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Teachers:: The Influence of Teachers:: Teachers who Change Lives

Updated on June 23, 2011

Good teacher, bad teacher

I am sure that each of us has a memorable teacher. Some we remember because they were the best, and others because they were the worst. I remember them myself. I can still feel the tears welling in my eyes when I think of the science teacher who, having read my attendance record, asked "So will you be attending classes this year, or just showing up twice a week whether you feel like it or not?" The whole class laughed as I took my seat. I left school that year. I quit because what had been a new start had come to an abrupt halt in her classroom.

I also remember my best teacher, the year before. I was in contact with her when I finished writing my first fictional story. I wanted her to read it, to edit me, to tell me if I was any good. We talked on the phone and she told me that I didn't need her to tell me I was good. She said "Do you remember the essay I asked if I could keep?" and I said "Yes" it had been my best work ever, I still don't own a copy. "I take it out every year and read it to my class. It always brings them to tears. I tell them that it is the best work ever produced in my classroom and that I won't accept anything less from any of my students than their best."

I remember her because she brought out the best in me. I am a writer because of her class. She taught us to write that year. It was an ongoing year long project. At the end of the year we had to produce a one side of one page essay about a single event that shaped our lives. At the time that event was the death of my father, but now, I think that it was her class. I had produced an essay that she shared with the faculty first. That essay was our final, and when that was done we had two weeks to just read or write, whatever we wanted. All that was required was to read it aloud in front of the class. I couldn't do it. I didn't go back to school for days, dreading getting up in front of the class. I'd gotten up at the beginning of the year and been ridiculed for what I read, which was my favorite poem. Her class was the only reason I went to school at all. I got kicked out of school for not going, being so afraid to read aloud that it made me physically ill.

Make a Difference

Now, I would love to be able to teach. I can speak in front of others now, as I worked in a Bingo Hall for twenty years. But there's this problem, this panic that fills me when I try to speak "unscripted" it's like stage fright. I begin to shake all over and I can feel my face turning red.

If I could teach, I would teach children to keep thinking for themselves and to always question everything!

This world is full of people who are being led around by the invisible ring in their noses! People who buy clothes based on the label, who go to college to become something they can't even pronounce, because that's the "next big thing".

For instance, I went to apply to a college, I want to be a massage therapist because I know I'm good at it. I just need the license. You have to go to school for the license... They tried to talk me into something "more" because of my score on their exam. I want to do something I'm good at, something I enjoy that can benefit others, not something that might pay more!

The world is a crazy place filled with potential. You can be anything! There are people who would make great teachers that are not going into the profession because the money isn't as good as something else that they qualify for.

Being a teacher, and living in this world is not about the money, it's about leaving the world better than when you came in, it's about making a difference.

Make a difference. Think of what an influence someone has had on you, a teacher, a mentor, a friend. Write about the person who had an impact on your life. If you had a truly great teacher, tell the story! Ask at your local school if the teachers need help, an assistant to grade papers or help out with the kids. Inspire your kids to become teachers. Try volunteering at the school, it is a rewarding experience you will never forget. This was at least one thing I was able to do, volunteering for field trips. The kids actually reported back to me, if you can believe that!

Without good teachers there is no future. Please don't put them down, raise them up. They have a job that many of us could never do on our best day, and they do it every day, whether they feel like it or not, even on their worst day. I guess that I understand what that "bad teacher" was trying to say. She had to show up every day, maybe she was just asking me to do the same.

I didn't know then that Woody Allen had said "90% of life is showing up." I find now that there is an actual column, about teaching, with that title, and I'll quote it here, as it is relevant to this hub.

90% of life is showing up (copied from


Nikka Landau teaches in Taiwan, where teacher absenteeism is not an issue. A teacher always shows up to work unless seriously ill. So do students.

Claire Landau teaches third grade in Philadelphia, where truancy is common for both teachers and students. She writes to her sister:

Your teachers and students go to school with a purpose. For a purpose. Here in Philly, school is a place you show up at (or don’t show up at) each day. This is true for students and it is clearly true for teachers as well.

Maybe I was born forty years too late, and should be growing up in Philly... 

But seriously, even now, in this current economy, with cut backs and pay cuts, teachers give so much more than we deserve. Give them respect, and if anyone says they want to be a teacher, encourage them rather than discourage them. We would be nowhere without our teachers. The future is, almost literally, in their hands.

Taylor Mali, inspiring 1000 new Teachers: check in at

Add yourself to the list:

Visit Taylor Mali and hear his mission statement: Click Here

Sign on as one of the 1000 people that Taylor Mali hopes to inspire to become new teachers: Click Here

To read about how I found Taylor Mali: Learning Something Every Day, It's What Kids Do.

To read about Taylor Mali, and his influence on me: Taylor Mali:: Inspiring Poet:: Inspiring 1000 New Teachers


Submit a Comment
  • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

    Faye Constantino 

    6 years ago from Florida

    Hi Happy Family, yes you are right, many memorable teachers never remember us, their students. I suppose that's as it should be, they have 25 or 100 times as many students as we have teachers. Still, if they educated you, then you have something great. Many teachers in the USA are trapped into teaching students to pass certain tests. If the school has a high number of students who score well, the school gets a higher rating and therefore more government funding. It's sad because the schools that get lower ratings probably need the funding more. I appreciate your comment. I was neither the worst nor the best student in any of my classes. The reason I remember many of my teachers so fondly is because of how they treated some really special students, or because they had a special method that was far above the other teachers.

  • Happy Family profile image

    Tuong Dao 

    6 years ago from Saigon, Vietnam

    I don’t have any memorable teachers. It’s because that I was just a normal student at school. There was nothing special about me. Therefore, none of my teachers remember me. I still remember all of my teachers. It’s just that none of them change my life as your teachers did to you. Of course I learned many valuable things from my teachers, but these things are solely about knowledge at school. I’m at university now and it’s even harder for me to have a memorable one. There are over 100 students in my class and we have different teachers for different subjects. My teachers always remember students that study very well and for these students, the teachers are the ones that change their lives. It’s kind of two ways communication: the teacher remembers his best or worst student and in return, that teacher is the most memorable one in that student’s life.

  • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

    Faye Constantino 

    6 years ago from Florida

    Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the value of good teachers! I think teachers need to know how appreciated they are and how much they inspire greatness. That's actually part of what President Barack Obama was talking about in his now infamous speech, we could never become anything in this nation or as a nation without a sound education system. Teachers deserve better pay and better benefits. Teachers are molding the future of America and if we don't start giving back to you guys then we're in danger of losing America's future. Thanks for being a teacher.

  • Deepika Arun profile image

    Deepika Arun 

    6 years ago from Chennai, India

    I loved your hub, being a teacher myself! Voted Up and interesting. It is so indeed true that the future generation is in the hands of teachers and an able teacher can make the future a better place to live in. Thanks for writing such an inspiring hub for me!

  • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

    Faye Constantino 

    6 years ago from Florida

    Yes, teaching has changed since I was in school. I had a lot of different experiences. My life has changed a lot too. Now that I'm older and I understand what some of my teachers were trying to do by being "The mean teacher" it's easier to swallow. At the time, however, I just needed someone to encourage me. My favorite memories are of those who did try to encourage rather than destroy me. Now I realize that they were trying to make me stronger, they couldn't have known the damage they were doing to my psyche. I have kind words for them because I am older and I realize they didn't know how fragile I was. Recently I had an opportunity to take a six week on line college course. I wrote an essay about teachers for one of my assignments. The response I got from the rest of the class was amazing. They too were surprised that I found good in the harshest of my mean teachers. The reality is that my life experience has taught me that you can learn from the worst just as easily as you can from the best, so long as you take the time to figure out just exactly what it was they were trying to teach. I'm sure that none of my teachers were trying to teach me to be afraid of teachers, authority figures, or the public in general. I know they were not trying to teach me to become an agoraphobic hermit. In the end, wheat I became was up to me. Luckily there were those who saw some value in me to offset the harsh opinions of others who deigned it beneath them to ask the question why. Our classrooms might be full to capacity if teachers would just ask the question why. "Why is absenteeism so high in this school?" "Why is that student doodling in his notebook instead of taking notes?" "Why does that student ace every test without cheating, yet never completes his homework?" You see those questions and many more are integral in being a good teacher. The student doodling doesn't take notes because you are not teaching him anything new! The student who aces the tests but doesn't complete assignments feels no challenge in your class. The students who are not showing up have issues outside of the classroom that aren't being addressed by the school. Do you know that the student has to walk a mile from the bus stop to his home in 90 degree weather, rain or shine, or that girl has to walk an hour, in the dark, down deserted streets to catch her bus? Why don't the parents bring them? Because they are working! The system is made or broken by the teachers, and all any of them has to do is ask the question WHY. I am able to forgive and even praise because I asked why. At the time I didn't have the strength, I was used to being ridiculed, put down and defeated. The answer to the question why back then? I just guessed I deserved it because I wasn't pretty enough for people to be nice to me.

  • teacher stories profile image

    teacher stories 

    6 years ago from San Diego

    Really enjoyed your article. It was a little similar to mine, Some Nice Things About Mean Teachers, but yours was more reflective and personal. I don't think teaching is the same as it was 20 years ago--or even 5 years ago. Every year seems to be harder. Thanks for you nice words and recognition of the goods ones.

  • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

    Faye Constantino 

    6 years ago from Florida

    Thank you Evylyn Rose. I love Taylor Mali, he is such an inspiration. I had never once considered being a teacher before seeing him perform. Remember there are many types of teachers, I never realized how much I was teaching others in my daily life! I figure if every teacher could make a difference in just one students life... Well you don't have to be a math teacher to figure out how much of a ripple effect that would cause; then try it with one student per teacher each year of his/her career and you would quite possibly change the world.

  • Evylyn Rose profile image

    Evylyn Rose 

    7 years ago from Virginia, USA

    Wonderful hub! Looking around on information on teacher influences, I noticed how caught up we are on statistical data and the findings of case study research. Sometimes it is the personal stories that help highlight the main the points. Thanks for sharing!

  • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

    Faye Constantino 

    8 years ago from Florida

    Hi LeanMan, I'm so glad that you had good teachers. It obviously makes us interact better with others, when we have good teachers, as opposed to "bad" teachers.

  • LeanMan profile image


    8 years ago from At the Gemba

    I am happy to say that the teachers that I remember are the good ones, the bad ones have faded from my memory long ago.

  • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

    Faye Constantino 

    8 years ago from Florida

    Thanks Lorlie! I'm actually going in today to be a teacher's assistant, since I'm not working anyway. That I can do...

  • lorlie6 profile image

    Laurel Rogers 

    8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

    My son would LOVE to talk electricity with you-he's a smog technician but loved the electric systems when in mechanic school.

    All the best in your pursuits!

  • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

    Faye Constantino 

    8 years ago from Florida

    That's great Lorlie! I think many of us who become writers are able to do so because we had at least one great teacher. I didn't get to go to college or grad school, but now I am in school to become an Electrician and I have had truly great teachers there.

  • lorlie6 profile image

    Laurel Rogers 

    8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

    I was also blessed in having a number of great teachers, Faye, ones I will never forget. Most of them I found in college, but one in particular was in grad school. I've kept in touch with him over the years and now he's a personal friend.

    Wonderful hub!

  • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

    Faye Constantino 

    8 years ago from Florida

    Hi Mioluna, that's exactly what I'm talking about! Everyone should have at least one "Great Teacher" story, and until the day when that is a reality, we need more teacher to be inspired to greatness, and more people to be inspired to become great teachers.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    Faybe Bay, you wrote an awesome hub! Sometimes teachers can change your personality and even your future life. I was a very shy girl and never could speak my opinion and I had a lot of doubts all of the time. My Great Teacher made me a confident person and took away my fear of speaking.

  • Faybe Bay profile imageAUTHOR

    Faye Constantino 

    8 years ago from Florida

    Thanks Ray, I know I may seem redundant with now four hubs about teaching, and learning, but where would we be? My grandfather was a teacher, with such an easy laugh, I wish he had taught my children as he taught me before I started to school. This legacy is passed to my children and grandchildren, as my kids teach theirs, just as I taught them, and he taught me. I was lucky. Parents do not realize what they are expecting of the teachers, that it's more than ever before!

    Not all of us have had at least one great teacher. I was among the lucky ones, I had more than one great teacher. This one, however, made the most profound difference, changing me for life.

  • Cagsil profile image


    8 years ago from USA or America

    Hey Faye, I would offer you something from my past, but the teachers I remember were not very good to begin with. It would be nice if more people understood the actual role of a teacher, but many parents nowadays seem to think that teachers are supposedly to do more than in the past. I think it was gotten why too political also. The entire educational system is fraught with political and social issues that the system is starting to break down. You did a great job on this hub. I voted it up and marked it as useful. It's always a pleasure to read your writing. Thank you for sharing a wonderful story about you and your relationship with that one teacher. It's a nice memory to hold on to. :)


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