Getting Poked with a Sharp Stick

“The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth.” ~Dan Rather~


It’s the end of the school year for most children and teenagers in the Northern Hemisphere, and the beginning of summer fun and dreams.

I hope everyone has been poked with a stick at some point in school…by a teacher who stuck out their hand and pulled you up to the next level; by a teacher who treated you with respect and had a belief in your dreams; by a teacher who influenced you positively for life; by a teacher who deserves your “thank you” a thousand times over for caring about you.

A teacher, for example, like Mark Thackeray in “To Sir with Love.”

For me, the teacher that I remember most fondly is an 8th grade history teacher who made class fun by telling the intermittent joke to lighten up what could have been a very boring class. I looked forward to his class every day of the school year. This teacher didn’t inspire me to be a teacher or a historian, but he showed me what it was to be involved and invested in his students. (He also appealed to that dry/crazy sense of humor being fueled by my father.)

Do you have fond memories of a special teacher in your life? It can be a teacher while you were going to school or one who made a mark on your children. Tell me about him or her and what this teacher meant to you.

If I don’t respond to your comment right away, don’t be alarmed. I’ll be away from technology today, at a work conference, where a few special people will be trying to teach an old dog new tricks. Feel free to talk among yourselves!


This post has been brought to you by teachers, a stick, Mr. Rather and a classic movie. It has also been brought to you by Linda G. Hill’s “One-Liner Wednesday.”Β All you need to play along every Wednesday is an awesome one-liner and follow a few rules. Birds on a wire are not required, but make sure you link back today’s post to HERE so the rest of us #1linerweds peeps can read it.

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30 responses to Getting Poked with a Sharp Stick

  1. Dan Antion says:

    This is a great observation, Mary. I have a few such teachers in my unremarkable educational experience. Fortunately, they made an impression that stuck with me, long after I forgot the subject matter they tried to get me to learn. Those men and women helped prepare me for life in the real world.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Right, Dan. I do have to say I don’t remember my Algebra teacher one iota, but I remember the woman who taught me to sew. The latter has served me well, although I do much less sewing these days. Were your memorable teachers in grade school? High school? College?

      • Dan Antion says:

        My 5th grade teacher, my 10/11/12th grade wood shop teacher and two English teachers in high school who thought I had an ability to write. One of them told me to find a way to make writing part of my life. There were other good ones, some memorable rotten ones and a ton that were forgettable.

      • bikerchick57 says:

        You DO have the ability to write, Dan, probably more than you give yourself credit for. And you write some damn fine limericks, I might add.

        It’s obvious that the wood shop teacher influenced you, but he would be glad to know that you passed the influence and abillities on to your daughter.

      • Dan Antion says:

        The limericks were fun. The shop teacher would be happy to see traditional craft work continuing. I think the English teachers would be happy, but not with everything. One was a stickler for not mixing humor into serious writing. The other saw humor as a useful technique.

  2. dweezer19 says:

    Mrs. Freiberg, Mr. Redmond, Mr. Davis., Mrs. Davis(no relation) 3 of these were English teachers. They saved my self esteem in school by forcing me to see my potential. We still need teachers like this. Thanks Mary.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Ah, those lovely English teachers! I’m certainly glad they worked on your potential, Cheryl, because it has turned into writing wonderful poetry and stories.

  3. Joanne Sisco says:

    Teachers are those unsong heroes. They all leave indelible marks, but the good ones are for all the right reasons.

    It would probably be easier for me to talk about the bad ones since they fortunately were few and far between. The worst by far was in university when I had a professor who apologized to the class for a question I had just asked because it was so *elementary*. I was mortified, but felt vindicated at the end of the class when so many others thanked me for asking the question they had all been wondering about. THAT is a bad teacher.

    … but this is about good teachers and I would give top marks to my English teacher / basketball coach in high school. His classes were funny and engaging and on the gym floor, he played to people’s strengths rather than highlighting their weaknesses. He seemed to bring out talents in people they didn’t even know they had.
    I wish that I had been less shy about seeking him out to thank him before he passed away several years ago. He taught me a lot about looking for good in people.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I thought about one or two bad teachers as well, but resisted the mention. Your professor was not one to lift his students up, was he?

      Having someone teach you that there is good in everyone is marvelous. I don’t remember English or gym class being that engaging, so you obviously struck it rich with this teacher.

  4. So many…. Maybe that’s why I was always destined to be a teacher… because I notice teachers who teach outside the box. But I will mention one in particular because it’s also my brush with fame. There’s a very successful young adult author in Australia called John Marsden (his series “Tomorrow When The War Began” has been made into both a movie and TV series) and he taught me English Literature in Year 9. I’d have remembered him anyway because he was ‘out of the box’. I remember – getting to know a potato well enough to find him/her again in a box, learning to fly by running along our desks lined up down the classroom and flapping our arms, learning about wealth distribution with tables and Mars Bars and reading the Little Prince.

    I could write a whole essay on the teachers that have impacted my life. I feel blessed.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Perhaps this is a future MOSY post? When she’s done running, running, running…?

      You were really blessed to have so many teachers that impacted your world, especially one who is now a successful author. His was a fun class for you, something that should be a part of learning for all children. When learning is made to be fun, everything sinks in a little deeper.

  5. joey says:

    I have had some magnificent teachers in my life. Tops would be my high school French teacher — a very classy lady who had such high expectations, my grades didn’t even reflect my aptitude, enigmatic English teacher whom The Mister also had — retired a few years too soon for our kids to have him, my third grade teacher, Mrs Main, who was so warm and cheerful, but also chemistry prof who blew something up every Friday πŸ™‚ I bet I had at least ten who influenced me in ways I can never fully express.
    Likely why I chose teaching ❀
    Disclaimer: None of them are responsible for my quitting! πŸ˜‰

    • bikerchick57 says:

      I would have loved the chemistry professor who blew things up. I remember high school smelling like rotten eggs on occasion (from chemistry class), but never any small explosive sounds. Meanwhile, I was in biology dissecting a frog…

      I’m glad you had so many great teachers, Joey, and that it served as your career for a while. I bet you were a fabulous teacher as well.

      • joey says:

        I dissected worms, crawfish, frogs, and fetal pigs. I actually loved it. lol
        That chemistry class was on Friday at 3, so it got cut a lot. So he’d teach a thing about blowing things up, blow the thing up, and then Monday, there’d be a pop quiz over the thing he blew up. Great prof πŸ™‚

        I was a good teacher, I was. But now they want you to do teaching plus a sport, plus a sponsorship, plus admin, and take tremendous amounts of professional development as well. Only the VERY BEST, most devoted teachers can stick to it after it’s changed so much.

      • bikerchick57 says:

        Teachers are expected to do so much these days, without compensation. A friend of mine, now retired, used to buy books and other supplies for her class out of her own pocket…which is something I hear a lot. Those are dedicated teachers!

      • joey says:

        Yes. The average American teacher spends $500 a year on classroom supplies.
        And the schedule has made it to where some no longer have summers off for education, sabbatical, or second jobs. They have my admiration.

  6. In high school my sophomore and junior English teacher lead me down the path to my love of classic literature. And at university, my evolutionary biology professor really opened my eyes to how humans work. Their guidance I believe is a goodly reason for who I am today.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Thanks for telling me about these two teachers. It seems like most everyone has encountered a stellar English teacher. Perhaps their love of words and language provide impetus to present that love to their students in a positive way.

  7. When I was in my college I used to skip my literature classes because I had to be at the restaurant to work. Tuesdays I had an off day and I decided to skip the lecture and be in the cafeteria with friends. Technically, I should have attended the class but I decided to skip. However, when the professor (she was also the Vice Principal of the college) asked one of my friends about me. He said he doesn’t attend because he goes to work this time but today he’s down in the cafeteria. Unaware of all this drama I was enjoying good time with my friends when my professor barged into the cafeteria. She told me that this time I better write well because she’s gonna spare no mistake. Next day onwards I attended her classes. It took me time to calm her down but I topped my class in literature and won her heart. I still believe she was more of a mother to me than a professor. My best teacher ever.

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Well, Sharukh, this teacher either had an inkling of your ability or she simply wasn’t going to let you slide by without attending her class. It was a win for you and obviously has made an impact on your life. Kudos to this teacher!

  8. Oh yes, I have my teacher. ❀ She probably doesn't know it and will never see this. Her name is Maja Turnher and she was my Spanish teacher for three years in high school in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She let me be the wild one in the class of overachievers. She showed me what a human being is. She inspired me to write, and taught me great literature (G. G. Marquez, Octavio Paz) and great songs (No nos moveran, Gracias a la vida). Without her I might have seriously deviated. This was a lovely memory and reminder. Thank you. I know, I'm in Italy now instead of Spain, but this things happen. πŸ˜€

    • bikerchick57 says:

      Maja was an amazing teacher for you and somewhat of a savior. I’m glad you were able to study under her and have this gift of a teacher.

  9. Claudia says:

    I loved your comment on Andrea Watkins blog…I loved your comment about being inspired by all kinds of people…and so I decided to let you inspire me, too!

  10. LindaGHill says:

    Mr. Tompkins, my science fiction teacher, made me write lines on the blackboard in grade 12.
    Life does not suck.
    Life does not suck.
    100 times.

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