The Prompt: Write about a teacher that has influenced you.
I was really bad at school.
I liked school, but I assumed early on that I wasn’t intelligent. Looking back it seems a little weird that I didn’t even question it… Anyway… We had a rule in my house that if you got less than a B you would be grounded until the next report card. I spent a lot of time grounded… I was told I was lazy and I assumed that to be true as well.
I would spend all my time and energy figuring out ways to cheat or get by, becoming a very successful D student…oop… Nobody seemed to believe in me, and I don’t think I understood why, I just knew it was my fault.
I always felt that I sucked at everything I did. I’m 30 and finally starting to understand a little bit what confidence feels like…anyway, I digress…
Fast forward to my junior year of college. I was on a solid track to fail out. I had faked it as long as I could and was beginning to figure out how to drop out without telling my parents. That semester we had a visiting professor, a young fresh PhD who I will call Dr. Canada.
Dr. Canada will never know it, but she is one of the most important people in my life story.
She was new, it was a 20 person class, and she was teaching many other classes that semester… she was busy.
A month and a half in we have our second test
I failed for the second time.
She wrote me a note on the test to sign up for a slot during her office hours. I made a time for the next day and spent the night preparing to awkwardly have to explain why I’m a dipshit…
I show up to her office a little early and she invites me in.
We proceed to talk for over an hour… She started out by asking a bit about me, my major, and all that jazz. We shared some jokes, then she asked me a question I didn’t know I needed my entire life:
“I don’t want you to feel bad about your score, I will help you with that! May I ask why you feel like you can’t do this?”
I had not prepared for that question… I hesitated, and said “I don’t know, I just can’t…”
Then out of nowhere, twenty-something years of “I don’t understand why I struggle to learn” poured out….I swear it felt like I lost 10 pounds…
She smiled, we chatted a bit more, then she had me make an appointment for the same time every week until the next test.
I went. every week, and here’s where (I think) It gets interesting. She didn’t really tutor me much on the material from class, rather she worked with me on several different study strategies until we found one that worked. I wasn’t putting in any more time studying than normal, in fact, I was studying several hours less. She helped me save so much god damn time and stress.
The best moment of my entire academic career, was her passing test number three back with a big old 97/100. She had this big proud smile on her face, and I finally felt like I could do it.
That makes me smile to this day. Because of her I went on to do masters and doctoral school.
Thanks Dr. Canada
Featured image by: MD Duran