A Teacher You’d Want Your Child to Have

The true measure of a good teacher is when people declare they’d want that instructor teaching their children. There’s a good chance that this woman fits this description, teaching social studies at Cadott High School in Wisconsin.

Since the beginning of the school year I’ve meant to feature her or any other teacher as a measure of good classroom learning. Here it is, the first of the new year, and I’m finally writing it.

From what she’s sent to me about her philosophy, first and foremost she feels that classroom management is essential, the teacher in charge asking for and deserving respect. The teacher, she writes, must be firm, fair, and fun. Treating each other with kindness and emphasizing that all in her classroom are good humans, that is the basis on which the classroom functions.

“When the classroom runs smoothly, learning will happen.” And in that setting, relationships are important, both among the students and with the teacher. Students need a constant in their lives, and ideally the school setting should provide that.

She tries to stay relevant, working current events into the lessons of the curriculum. “Intertwining” she describes it.

Just as important, she as the teacher needs to find new ways to learn and reach her students. I saw this last summer when she went on Facebook and wrote about a plan or strategy to reach all students.

Holding students accountable is important to her, as is helping students with organizational skills and time management.

All these goals can happen when students see that the teacher truly cares for them. She enjoys visiting with students who come back to talk about their time in class, and at times apologize for how they behaved.

When I heard about the program that chose a teacher of the year on the state or federal level, I wondered how that choice was made. In some cases grants and fellowships hinged teaching ability and enthusiasm but also on patience in filling out complicated, rigorous forms.

During my teaching years at the junior high level, I knew I was working with “teachers of the year” but they’d never put themselves out there or want that attention. Olson, Fieber, Grant, Bubolz, Engel, McCarthy, Redepenny, and Aiken would win.

Ali echoes the idea that she wants to be the type of teacher that she’d like her kids to learn from.

5 Replies to “A Teacher You’d Want Your Child to Have”

  1. Cari Lindsley says: Reply

    My father was a teacher who started out in a one room schoolhouse during the Second World War. People came to our farmhouse door. They said they had heard he had two years of college and if it was true they would like him to take over the schoolmarm’s job at Laney because the big, Polish farm boys were disrupting the class and tormenting her. She did not feel she could continue under the circumstances. My dad didn’t speak any Polish but he knew how to get their attention and enforce the rules. The teacher you featured is correct; teaching and learning starts and ends with mutual respect. Many years later he accepted the position of principal with the Nekoosa Public School but gave it up after a few years. He said he had to get back to the kids. He was a firm, compassionate teacher who thought up such impressive science experiments X-students still mention them when they find out I am Gordon Zahn’s daughter. God bless all of our teachers. May their passion never wain.

  2. Jan 20, 2018

    The compassionate, caring teacher Cari spoke of was a very good friend, neighbor, and co-worker of mine. Gordon Zahn was everything his daughter said he was. He was funny, firm, and full of great “down to earth” knowledge for his fellow teachers. I have many fond memories of Gordy Zahn. Thanks, Carol , for this wonderful tribute to your father. I remember you well from English class and class plays. How very nice to hear from you! Hugs, Joye Kuhlka, (English teacher , Nekoosa Public Schools)

    1. Thanks, Joye. Here’s hoping we remember the good ones more than the average or bad ones.

  3. Cari Lindsley says: Reply

    Joye Kuhlka, Even before I read your comment I recognized your name and immediately your face came to mind. What a fun connection after all these years. You too were one of the good ones. Hugs right back at ya.

    Thanks, Loren, for being the avenue where a former teacher and student chanced to intersect.

    1. You both are classy ladies, Joye and Cari. Glad to know you.

Leave a Reply