Favorite Teacher

Learning Goal: I’m working on a writing report and need support to help me learn.

Purpose

It’s time to get your feet wet with a low-pressure topic that will be easy and fun to write about: A teacher who really made a difference in your life. In addition to practicing and honing your writing skills, you’ll also get to think about how you learn best.

Assignment Details

Think about your favorite course in high school or college. Try to get a firm image in your head of what the class was like. What made it so enjoyable? Informative? Useful?

In a 1,200-1,500 word paper, describe your ideal learning experience. When you have done so, discuss why these factors made such a difference. Be as specific, detailed, and concrete as possible. Feel free to use examples from your personal experience as a student. I suggest that you think of three main reasons why the course was exceptional and frame your paper around them.

You will basically be answering these two questions in your paper:

  1. What were the three best things about this class?
  2. Why did these things make it so great?

Note: Sometimes your best learning experience wasn’t in a traditional school classroom. You may have had a coach, trainer, drill sergeant, band director, pastor, community educator, or some other kind of teacher who taught some kind of class. However, don’t choose anything that you aren’t comfortable sharing with me and your classmates.

Here’s a suggested structure for your paper:

  1. Open with a description of the first day of the class. How were you feeling at the time? Were you scared, nervous, or excited? If so, why?
  2. In the next paragraph briefly mention the three best things about the class. Mention them in the order you will describe them in step 3.
  3. Take a paragraph each to describe each item mentioned in step 2. Also explain why these items made a difference to you. (Example: The field trip to Athens…inspired me to study archaeology). It’s not necessary that each paragraph be the same length, but they should be at least 3 sentences.
  4. In your conclusion, describe the last day of the class. How had your feelings changed from day 1? Wrap up with a summary line about the difference this class has made to your life. Don’t just say that it did. Mention at least one concrete way it has affected you (Example: what to major in, how you feel about a subject or group, etc.)

 

Audience

Imagine a semi-formal but educated audience for this piece (your instructor and classmates); the sort of people who are genuinely interested in learning more about you and your learning experiences.

These folks want to learn something about you when they read your paper, but they can also appreciate light humor and fascinating stories. They don’t, however, expect to see each claim backed up with peer-reviewed sources.

Grading

You will be graded on five criteria: Focus, Development, Organization, Style, and Conventions. See my lectures for explanations of these criteria.

Readings

Be sure to review the sample papers in the “examples” section of this D2L (Materials-Content-Examples-MA #1). Keep in mind that these students were writing for my earlier classes, and the assignments may have changed slightly. Still, these papers should give you some good ideas.

Tips and Suggestions

Avoid silly aspects like “I like an instructor who cancels classes a lot,” or “that teacher was so sexy!” Focus on what made the class effective as a learning experience.

Don’t write about school or learning in general. Focus on a single teacher, class, or project. This will allow you to provide enough specific details and evidence to liven up your writing.

The purpose of this paper is to write about a great learning experience, not a bad teacher or a class you hated. Keep in mind that at least one teacher (me!) will be reading your work, so avoid insulting teachers or going on about how you find school boring or pointless. Instead, focus on what works for you and the kind of teaching you value. Try to come across a good student who enjoys learning, not a slacker or party animal.

Also, while it’s always great to have fun in class, that’s not really the point. Can you imagine a medical school where all the professors wore clown costumes and gave away bonus points left and right? Would you want to have an operation performed on you by a graduate of this “school?” A teacher is not paid to be an entertainer, but rather to help you achieve your learning goals. Some of the best papers I’ve read have come from students who wrote about teachers who seemed scary or intimidating–at least at first. Later, they realized that these strict teachers had actually brought out the best in them.

Length: 1,200-1,500 words

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