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With Larry Ferlazzo

In this EdWeek blog, an experiment in knowledge-gathering, Ferlazzo will address readers’ questions on classroom management, ELL instruction, lesson planning, and other issues facing teachers. Send your questions to lferlazzo@epe.org. Read more from this blog.

Professional Development Opinion

‘He Was a Very Good Listener': Students Write About Their Most Memorable Teachers

By Larry Ferlazzo — April 01, 2020 5 min read
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Note: All of our minds are on the school closure crisis right now, and I recently completed an 11-part series on coping with its ramifications. Many more related posts are on their way.

In this time of crisis, reading and thinking about noncoronavirus topics can be a welcome diversion now and then. I put thinking about and reading about our favorite teachers into that “welcome diversion” category.

(This is the final post in a five-part series. You can see Part One here, Part Two here, Part Three here, and Part Four here.)

The new question-of-the-week is:

Who was your favorite teacher when you were attending school and why was she/he your favorite?

Part One shared responses from Elizabeth Villanueva, Jessica Levine, Betty Cárdenas, and Jenny Vo. You can listen to a 10-minute conversation I had with the four of them on my BAM! Radio Show. You can also find a list of, and links to, previous shows here.

In Part Two, Antoinette Perez, Cindy Garcia, Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski, Shaeley Santiago, Rita Platt, Jen Schwanke, and Barry Saide offered their memories.

In Part Three, Jeryl-Ann Asaro, Jenny Edwards, Adrienne Donovan, Dennis Griffin Jr., and Dr. John Almarode contributed thoughts on their favorites.

Students Share Their Best School Experiences & What We Can Learn From Them is the all-time most popular post from this column. Keeping that in mind, Part Three shared commentaries from some of my present-day students—Jenny Pérez, Lee Xiong, Ariane Jasmin, Michael Hernandez, and Briche’ Hardin—about their favorite teachers. I distributed this voluntary assignment to several of my classes at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento.

Today’s post also includes some of their commentaries.


Johusemily Torres is a junior at Luther Burbank High School:

One day during math class, Mr. Scott was telling the whole class how we shouldn’t give up on what we want to accomplish—we should try instead of giving up. At that moment, I thought about softball because I had wanted to stop playing because I thought it would drop my grades. Mr. Scott’s words were very inspiring, and I decided to challenge myself to play softball and have good grades.

Another time, Mr. Scott told the entire class that “we mattered.” He let us know that if we had any problems that we could go ahead and talk to him. That’s what made Mr. Scott memorable to me—he was willing to sacrifice some of his own time and make sure that we were OK. He was a very good listener.

“She would challenge me”

Jewels Vang is a junior at Luther Burbank High School:

One of my most memorable teachers was Ms. H. in 8th grade. She was my English teacher but also felt like my ideal mom. She taught me things that I was too afraid to talk about. She did much more than teach—she helped me improve mentally and emotionally. She would challenge me to speak up more and take notice of me when I did something well.

“He would say it with a smile”

Omar Moreno is a junior at Luther Burbank High School:

A teacher who I feel has made a positive impact on my life is Mr. Johnson. The reasons that I feel he had a positive impact were his relatability and his encouragement. Even if he was in a bad mood, he would still try his best to be patient with students and would still share some good jokes. Almost every time he told us to do something, he would say it with a smile.

When students found something to be difficult in P.E., he would go to the student and help him/her out. Although he seemed easygoing, he never let the classroom get out of control and showed that he should be respected. I think that the teachers who get along with students, talk to them, and give them advice in life are the most memorable ones.

“She kept it real”

Skyon Hudson is a junior at Luther Burbank High School:

Ms. Hoekstra had a positive impact on my life. She was willing to listen to students. I could talk to her about anything, and she would sit and talk with me. She kept it real and was honest. She knew, too, when it was time to joke around. She cared about her students’ grades and their knowledge. If you were stressing, she’d make sure you were OK by the end of the period.

“She would make sure we understood”

Viviana Avila-Armenta is a junior at Luther Burbank High School:

My 6th grade teacher has had a positive impact on my life. A memorable quality she had was that she was very helpful. When she would introduce us to a new topic, she would make sure we understood. She would ask around if anyone needed help. She also joked around with us so it would create a good bond between the students and teacher.

“She helped me become more responsible”

Michelle Xiong is a junior at Luther Burbank High School:

Ms. H. was a teacher I had in grade school. She was the only teacher who asked how I was doing. She encouraged me to join student government, which I did. She helped me overcome my fear of public speaking. She helped me become more responsible and become a leader.

Thanks to Johusemily, Jewels, Omar, Skyon, Viviana, and Michelle for their contributions!

Please feel free to leave a comment with your reactions to the topic or directly to anything that has been said in this post.

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at lferlazzo@epe.org. When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it’s selected or if you’d prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo.

Education Week has published a collection of posts from this blog, along with new material, in an e-book form. It’s titled Classroom Management Q&As: Expert Strategies for Teaching.

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