Good Teacher

Good teachers shape minds, which in turn shape lives, which in turn shape communities, which in turn shapes culture. So if you have a good teacher — I suggest you purposefully fail your class so you can continue to learn from that teacher next semester.

Today, I present to you two good teachers, Mr. Morgan and Mrs. Shirtliffe.

I found the funny King of Pop, Mr. Clay Morgan, at educlaytion.com , where he blogs about pop culture and is always funny and interesting and funny and relatable and funny and smart … and did I mention funny? You must follow him on twitter and friend him immediately, and you’ll discover what a great guy he is. Oh, and funny. He’s pretty funny, too.

Then I met the beautiful and classy (with a bit of silly on top) Mrs. Leanne Shirtliffe. She also responds to Mrs. Colin Firth and Shakespeare. Over at her blog, IronicMom.com , her motto is “if you can’t laugh at yourself, laugh at your kids.” This lady is awesome with words … specifically, words that make you laugh. She’s full of witty observances and hilarious stories and is also kind and encouraging. You won’t regret following her on twitter.

So, I asked them some questions this week about their life as enemies of the freedom of students …. uh, I mean, as teachers! ;)

1.) First of all, let’s clarify something. Are you in fact human beings, or are you robots from another world sent to influence the minds of our young?
Mr. Clay: I am programmed to answer that question by saying I am, in fact, a human.
Ms. Leanne: I am a human being on Thursdays and Fridays. On Mondays and Tuesdays, I’m a robot. Wednesdays are a toss up, but alien life form is a possibility.
2.) Do you actually like students?
Mr. Clay: Yes! I love all earth units, er, people.
Ms. Leanne: I do. And the longer I’ve been doing this teaching gig, the more I like them. Teens are way smarter than anyone ever gives them credit for. They have built in BS-detectors. And that’s a good thing.
3.) Do you spend all your time thinking of new assignments to bury your students in or do you do other things? Like write encyclopedias or something?
Mr. Clay: I prefer students to come up with assignments themselves, but they never believe I’m serious, so I have to do all the work on that end. If I bury students too much they won’t be able to go shopping and buy me gifts which is really all the homework I need to see *wink*
Ms. Leanne: When I’m not plotting how to make students get as little sleep as possible on a Sunday night, I tend to spend a lot of time grading. I’m also working on a A-Z book of how to annoy teens in the classroom. (A is for Accents. Speak in a bad British/Australian one all class and watch students squirm).
4.) What’s your definition of a good student?
Mr. Clay: A good student questions things first and foremost. In order to do that they have to be listening and thinking. Good students have plans even if those plans don’t always work out. They work towards goals even if the goal changes along the way.
Ms. Leanne: A good student is one who’s willing to ask the hard questions and is willing to listen to (but not always agree with) the answers. A good student knows when to trust you and when to challenge you.
5.) What’s your definition of a bad student?
Mr. Clay: A “bad” student just doesn’t care. They don’t try when they could do well. They complain about how hard things are yet never ask anyone for help. They float towards nothing and hit that goal. These students may do poorly, but I still love them all!
Ms. Leanne: I’d say there are no bad students, only students who make bad decisions. “Gifted underachievers” are some of the most challenging students I teach. They are phenomenally bright but are jaded by the education system and are just getting by.
6.) What’s your biggest challenge at school?
Mr. Clay: Hmm, I want to say something about administrators here, but they also sign my paychecks. I would say getting students to wake up and realize how much is out there for them if they just go for it is a challenge. Most students don’t realize what is possible until years later. The few that do are soaring.
Ms. Leanne: Grading and meetings. Schools are sterile places when there aren’t students in them.
7.) Have you ever snapped sleeping students with a rubber band or thrown a pencil at them? What would happen if you catch them texting another student a nasty note about your style choice for the day?
Mr. Clay: I’ve only thrown the following objects at students: Starburst, Skittles, chalk, erasers, Hershey Kisses, books, garbage, fire, other students, and knowledge.
Ms. Leanne: I’m amazed at how much students notice. “You got your hair highlighted, didn’t you?” or “Those are new shoes.” I’d laugh. In my second year of teaching, there was a Spirit Day where students could come as twins. Two students dressed like me: black boots, black pants, jacket.
8.) Why did you choose to be a teacher – instead of a spy or something? Or . . . are you a teacher/spy as I initially suspected? Come on, your secret’s safe with me!
Mr. Clay: Not sure I chose anything. A teacher is just who I am. I was made to be it. For now I do the work in a classroom, but I may teach in another setting someday. We’re all made for specific purposes. A great person once said “Know who you are. Accept who you are. Be who you are.”
Ms. Leanne: Teaching was actually my “fall back” career, and I’m glad I fell.
9.) What’s a funny test answer/essay mistake you’ve caught?
Mr. Clay:  Ha, I once asked what George Washington did to save the morale of his troops on Christmas Day 1776. The answer I wanted was that he crossed the Delaware River and won a military victory. An answer I got was that he gave them all a honey baked ham.
Ms. Leanne: Here’s a student mistake: My eighth graders had to memorize a Shakespearean insult and walk into class and insult me with gusto. One innocent, honor roll student walked in, swaggered up to me, and said, “Thou frothy, milk-livered SLUT.” He had meant to say “scut” but misspoke.
I’ve made many slip ups too. I usually write the agenda on the board each clas. I’ve written “ass” before (instead of assignment) and “anal” (instead of analysis). Oops. Much laughter ensued.
10.) How do you relax after spending all day with eager young minds that need molding?
Mr. Clay: I play with words and write a lot. It’s not even like work to me. All this writing is accompanied by a lot of music pumping into my brain via ear buds.
Ms. Leanne: I’m lucky in that I have 7-year-old twins at home, so I tend to play with them. Once they’re in bed, I write and read. Yup. I’m pretty much the stereotypical English teacher (without gray hair or a bun). I also have a mean jump shot, so I’m sometimes shooting hoops in the front yard.
11.) Why do you believe … ya know, learning is good for students?
Mr. Clay: Learning is good for everyone. I learn many things every day! The truth is that knowledge is power, and as a famous guy once said, “the truth will set you free.”
Ms. Leanne: Learning is good for everyone. It’s the only way we grow. And if we’re not growing (i.e. not learning), we are the walking dead.
It’s been an honor having these good teachers on my blog.
Do you have any questions for these good teachers?
Tell me about a good teacher you’ve had!
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30 Comments

  1. Lucky students that get those two.

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  July 15, 2011

      I know! Out future generations are in good hands with these two.

      Reply
  2. Clay and Leanne, two of my favorites. You are both bright and eternally witty, great interview. Thanks for having them on Ellie :)

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  July 15, 2011

      They are great people, and so easy to interview because anything they write is gold.

      Reply
  3. What a cheerful, postitive chat with two of my favourite bloggers! I hope that my sons meet teachers like Leanne and Clay – the future looks bright indeed, with these funny people molding young minds!

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  July 15, 2011

      Doesn’t Leanne’s class sound fun — getting to insult your teacher and not get in trouble! =)

      Reply
  4. Little do you all know that this is part of Clay’s and my plan to take over the world, one impressionable young mind at a time.

    Bwahaha

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  July 15, 2011

      Oh no! *grabs head* My impressionable young mind is being taken over! I knew you were spies from another world! I knew it!

      Reply
    • Well thank Goodness! It’s about time we had someone competent in charge.

      Reply
  5. Fun, fun, fun! I already follow both teachers and they have me in stitches all of the time. Great questions by the way!

    Reply
  6. Leanne: Good to know we wear the same uniform to the classroom everyday. Black pants, black boots, jacket. There is a reason for this you will learn when I kick off #TWITS (Teachers Whom I Think Sucked/ Teachers Whom I Thonk Scored) in August. I have 16 bloggers sharing their stories.

    Ellie, wanna join in? ;-) All you have to do is tell me a story about a teacher you loved or a teacher you thought was a major douche-bag.

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  July 15, 2011

      Black is such a hip color, you can’t really go wrong. You ARE both talking about your tight patent leather pants, your black thigh-high boots, and your studded jackets, right?
      Yes, I’d love to be a part of the group! Thank you. (email or call me!)

      Reply
  7. Great questions and answers. I love teachers like this: those who truly seem to enjoy what they do. And who write “ass” on the chalkboard. I wish someone would throw Hershey Kisses at me!

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  July 15, 2011

      You can’t fake a passion for teaching like these two have, they’re the real deal. And if I ever meet you, Amanda, I shall throw a Hershey Kiss at you. ;)

      Reply
  8. GREAT post and interview! I absolutely love a Good Teacher who loves their students and their jobs. Sadly, there aren’t many anymore. Teachers get sucked into the fear of actually doing their jobs, and instead just go through the motions afraid to ruffle any feathers. I would love for my children, if I had any, to learn from either Clay or Leanne.

    My favorite teacher? My senior English teacher – Harry Crow. He was not like most other teachers, and actually, most other teachers didn’t like him. But he challenged us, and I credit my love for literature and writing to him today.

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  July 15, 2011

      Great thoughts, Tiff! I think the best teachers don’t just teach you facts, they teach you to love to learn. Which is a characteristic of great human beings.

      Reply
  9. shawn

     /  July 15, 2011

    Love this! They both are so funny! And my wife talks about them all the time, so I know they are good.

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  July 15, 2011

      Agreed! I’m always laughing at Clay and Leanne. I mean … always laughing WITH them. yeah, laughing with them. =)

      Reply
  10. When you say Leanne is “a bit of silly on top” are you going for understatement of the year ;-) Thanks for pairing me up with the Awesome Albertan which is her new Olympic skier name in case she ever gives up the classroom for alpine pursuits.

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  July 15, 2011

      Actually yes, I’ve been trying to win the “understatement of the year award” for quite some time. =)

      Reply
  11. Yes. I’d like to know if either or both of you would be willing to move to Colorado and provide a challenge for these kids. Please?

    Reply
  12. Fantastic interview with two thoroughly awesome individuals! To me, the three of you in one spot at the same time is something akin to crossing the streams in Ghostbusters – so much power in one place; but that worked out well in the end too, as we all saw.

    Reply
    • EllieAnn

       /  July 17, 2011

      Thank you for referencing Ghostbusters on my blog!! I love it. =) this post is now complete!

      Reply
  13. You both made me miss the classroom. Desperately.

    I agree with Clay that teachers just “are” – I wanted to teach since I was a child.

    When I was ten, I wrote in my diary that I wanted to be a teacher and a writer. Like Judy Blume.

    So I worked on my first career goal for sixteen years and now I am committed to giving the next one a shot for another sixteen.

    And then?

    Maybe I’ll try being a rock star or a ballerina.
    It could happen.

    Reply
  14. I think I like Awesome Albertan, Clay. You rock. In another life, you’ll be my history teacher.

    And Ellie, I am bookmarking this post in my Pick-Me-Up folder, so I can reread these comments on those days when I’m banging my head against the whiteboard, wondering what I’m not doing right.

    Reply
  1. Ode To Bizarre Interviews | Leanne Shirtliffe ~ Ironic Mom
  2. Good Teacher Quotes « EduClaytion
  3. Is it a Calling or Career? « EduClaytion

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