As I mentioned before, my daughter is struggling this year.  All kinds of things are making it hard for her.  School starts at 8am, and she’s nocturnal, so she’s exhausted all the time.  The friends she’s had since daycare days are ignoring her.  She’s not terribly academically inclined, and in a school known for high achievement, she feels pretty bad about that.  She has autism and although you wouldn’t know it if you met her, it makes her different, and those differences are more pronounced now that she’s a teenager.  We are giving her all the help we can, and my heart is still breaking for her.

I was on the verge of having her switch schools.  There’s another local school nearby that has a 9:15 start time, and although she wouldn’t know anyone there, sometimes not having any friends is better than having former friends that are ignoring you every day.  But I decided to meet with her teachers first.  And changed my mind about switching schools because her teachers seem really great.  A good teacher can really make or break a year, and her teachers were so understanding, so empathetic, so willing to accommodate, that it seemed best to continue to see how the year unfolds.

Today’s writing prompt asks us to tell about the best or worst teacher we ever had.  You can read about my worst teacher here.  As for my best — I’ve had many very good teachers.  So many more good than bad.  One that continues to stand out for me is Mr. Monaghan, my grade 12 English teacher.  I think most kids hated him.  He had a tendency to be kind of an asshole.  But he was also funny and if you worked hard, you were rewarded.  He helped instill a love of literature in me.  I’d always loved to read, but he helped me explore books I wouldn’t have read otherwise.  When I went to university in Engineering, and then Computer Science, he couldn’t believe I didn’t plan to become an English teacher.  Kept telling me to switch.  Mr. Monaghan passed away a number of years ago.

And Mrs. Willis, my grade 7 teacher and my grade 8 gym teacher.  I credit her with my love of sports.  Without her encouragement, I would have continued to think of myself as uncoordinated and not very athletic.  Because she suggested I try out for the high school basketball team, I did.  And found something I was good at.

And Mr. McConnery, my grade 9 math teacher.  I was really good at academics.  I always got excellent marks.  Math was the one subject I struggled in.  Math was hard, where everything else was easy.  I dreaded high school math, thinking it would just get harder.  But there was something about the way Mr. McConnery taught that made math click for me.  It went from being a struggle to being easy.

A good teacher can make all the difference.  I hope they make a difference for my daughter this year.

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