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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

Students Describe Their Favorite Teachers

By Larry Ferlazzo — March 30, 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 fourth post in a five-part series. You can see Part One here, Part Two here, and Part Three 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, today’s post shares commentaries from some of my present-day students about their favorite teachers. I distributed this voluntary assignment to several of my classes at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, and today’s post, as well as the next one in this series, includes some of their commentaries.

In reviewing what students’ wrote, almost all described their favorite teacher as one who provided them emotional support in a time of need, someone who made the classroom an enjoyable place, or inspired them to be their best.

Emotional support

Jenny Pérez is a senior at Luther Burbank High School:

The teacher that has stayed in my memories is Mrs. Simes, my 5th and 6th grade teacher. I had a close connection to her because of how she built a family-like atmosphere with us, including inside jokes, birthdays, and talking about life in general. Although we were just in elementary school, she cared a lot about our future and put in a life lesson here and there.

I remember two days before my 6th grade promotion, a close cousin of mine passed away. Comfort is one of the things you desire most when you come from a family that has gone through numerous problems. I remember holding the sad feeling in until I saw her and told her. She hugged me until I calmed down and said it will all be OK. That emotional support she gave me will always hold a spot in my heart.

“He brought me out of my shell”

Lee Xiong is a junior at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, California:

Mr. Ward greatly impacted my life. Through my elementary days, I was that shy kid who never said a word—even though I knew the answer to the question. I was scared. Mr. Ward helped me through that. I like to say he brought me out of my shell. He was not only a teacher to me, he was a friend.

She “cared for me outside of school”

Ariane Jasmin is a junior at Luther Burbank High School:

When I was in middle school, I was struggling with the pace of my school and personal life, and having my English teacher as a confidant made my life better. In 7th grade, I started reading books, and we would always “review” books together in conversation, and she would help me find books to read. It made me feel special and important. It was near Christmas when she came up and gave me a gift. She said she thought of me and I teared up. I later on shared my struggles with handling emotions, and she said I was brave. She also gave me a journal and daily prompts that were a catharsis for me.

Mrs. Ghalambor was the only teacher who cared for me outside of school. It’s rare for teachers to have that connection with their students.


Michael Hernandez is a senior at Luther Burbank High School:

My teacher in 7th grade had a positive impact on my life. All I remember was the interesting stories about his background, which made me always come to his class excited. He taught us that no matter where you came from you can make it in life.

“She helped me through some tough times”

Briche’ Hardin is a junior at Luther Burbank High School:

One teacher who made a positive impact on me was Mr. Williams from my 7th to 9th grade years. He helped me with many things. When my grandfather passed away, he was there to support me. And when I was having other drama problems, he was the one to talk me out of the situation.

Another teacher who made an impact on me was my P.E. teacher, Ms. Coronado. She helped me through some tough times, like when my brother had gone to jail and my friend had just died. She was the one who helped me get through it.

I will remember them both because even at my worst, they were there for me.

Thanks to Jenny, Lee, Ariane, Michael, and Briche’ 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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