December 17, 2017

What makes a great teacher?

TEACHBy Julie Samrick

Mrs. Oetting got the name “Miss Shakespeare” because that is what she embodied to a class of otherwise squirrelly 5th graders. She got us excited about learning, namely about Shakespeare.  We performed plays in her class and learned a ton while doing so. We had a hand in every part of our production of Julius Caesar, for instance. Whenever I see a sheet toga I think of Mrs. Oetting’s class.


As Calpurnia I may have been a head taller than my husband, Julius, but I was proud to be in my first and only (to this date) play. Shyer students who didn’t want to necessarily be under the lights earned respected positions like director, make-up artist, or video production (back in the days of VHS tapes and camcorders that weighed half as much as we did).


I didn’t end up going into acting, but Mrs. Oetting planted the seed for a lifetime love of language in me, especially why Shakespearean language is so beautiful and why Shakespeare was a genius. I ended up being an English major in large part because of Mrs. Oetting.

 When I think about great teachers, they all share their passion with students.  My daughter had a teacher who did this with animals.  Some teachers incorporate music or lots of physical activity into their curriculum.  Some great teachers may use a fabulous sense of humor.

In the end, I think great teachers use their unique gifts to spark something in their students- and the students come alive just a little bit more and are better for it.

There is a new documentary airing on TV that explores more of what great teaching looks like. TEACH is the name of Academy Award-winning director Davis Guggenheim’s latest documentary.  It follows four remarkable teachers in very different parts of America over a year. 

Watch the trailer here-

TEACH will air on CBS Friday, September 6th and on Pivot Saturday, September 14th.

The makers of the film asked me to help promote the film because in doing so the teaching profession will be promoted. They want to have a teaching promotional campaign to attract more great teachers because in the next 10 years 65% of current teachers will retire.

I love teachers, so it’s a no-brainer to take part in this campaign.

Who else do you know that might be inspired by TEACH

I’d love to hear what you think it takes to be a great teacher. Who was one of your own favorite teachers and why?

Thanks to Participant Media for sponsoring this post and for the opportunity to acknowledge the importance of teachers in our children’s lives.


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