Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

A New Breed of Teacher

By , Spokane, WA
The first day of middle school was huge for everyone fresh out of elementary school. We wanted 8th grader’s opinions on everything from the best and worst teachers to the best and worst machines in the fitness center. We wanted some kind of idea of what to expect from our teachers. I showed my schedule to multiple 8th graders and 7th graders who had older siblings. Every time someone reached the name “Zachary” they would say something like, “I feel so sorry for you,” or, “He’s evil.” I wondered what was so bad about him, why everyone seemed to flinched when they reached the name.

Mr. Zachary was my fourth and fifth period classes, language arts and social studies and when I walked into the class I wondered what I was in for. What I found was someone totally random and funny. Mr. Zachary had a sense of humor, twisted, yes, but he was amusing. He’d yell something for no apparent reason-just to see the looks on our faces, pretended to listen for a squeak on a cabinet door so he could slam it and make us scream, or emphasize a point by writing it on a window or door.

This crazy teacher would make us mad so we’d have a classroom argument. I mean yelling and insulting our teacher. His goal? To get us ready for persuasive writing. Mr. Z would go out of his way to get at a point across to us. For instance, to show us product placement, he’d drink Mountain Dew in front of us before giving a due date. He also gave us a pop quiz on elements we needed for our writing to show the importance of knowing those things by heart before we took a state assessment. He’d constantly say things like, “All in favor? All not in unfavor?” so we could learn to think critically.

Mr. Z is not your average teacher. We could ask questions and argue with his opinions and he’d just argue back. He could also be very serious when he wanted to be and keep us hooked on what he was trying to tell us. You could never fall asleep with someone like him as your teacher. Especially with the high risk he might slam the desk by your ear and make you wake up screaming bloody murder.

Some people may ask why anyone would want a teacher like him, and I would too if I didn’t know him. But just think for a moment, would you rather have a teacher who drones on and on and you have no idea what he is talking about, or a teacher who makes class interesting and gets you ready for things you’ll learn in the future without you even noticing?

In his class our opinions were heard. We were able to criticize our text books and it would start a class conversation questioning the bias of the book writers. We learned more from Mr. Zachary than we ever had from any text book. He made what we read in class seem real. Like when we were talking about Pearl Harbor and he told us of a man who had to guard the docks after the bombing. He explained how the man could hear the soldiers who were still alive underwater pounding “S.O.S.” on the walls and doors of their imprisonment. Then Mr. Z went on to explain that if our school was underwater that there would be an air pocket where we’d all be fighting for our lives to get oxygen. His lessons show, not tell. We could be involved in everything he showed us and we have the power to control what we learned.

Mr. Zachary let us make mistakes and learn from them. He let us learn about ourselves and what works best for us to understand what he was trying to teach us. His tactics may be strange and unexpected but we actually had fun learning in his class. When we were with him it was hardly enough to expect the unexpected because you can never be sure of what point he’s trying to get across. He’d tell us something but leave it up to us to interpret what he meant. Or make an analogy to confuse us or make us laugh (Opinions are like armpits, we all have them and they all stink).

I have never learned so much from any teacher because most of what I hear goes in one ear and out the other, but with Mr. Zachary, it was hard to go to sleep at night as I pondered something he told us in class. I know everyone said they hate Mr. Zachary, and I too have complained when he gets on my nerves, but deep inside we all loved our crazy block teacher more than we showed. Although he could act evil and over eccentric at times, inside he had a big heart and really cared about our future, even if he didn’t come out and just tell us.

I remember the first day of school when class was over, I went up to him and told him he was the best teacher I’d ever had and he replied that most kids said the opposite. I couldn’t understand why then, but now I can see. However, it was never really true for me. I just hope he someday sees how important he has been to all of our lives and how he has affected the way we see things as common as a TV show. Maybe he’ll understand how much we really appreciate him, although he’s so outlandishly clever that he probably already knows.



Join the Discussion

This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

Evaspie said...
Dec. 28, 2009 at 12:51 am
I think you are the first person that I have read anything about that I have even lived remotely close to. XD ID
 
Sheridan This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 3, 2010 at 9:10 pm
Yeah you would think there would be more people in the area but I've been looking at the magazine for people who live in Spokane or somewhere close to Spokane but there's never anyone who lives close :P its weird.
 
Evaspie replied...
Jan. 4, 2010 at 12:24 am
Yeah. It's all where is everybody at?
 
emilysbreakfast said...
Dec. 21, 2009 at 5:35 pm
I like how strongly you feel about this teacher. You should print off this piece and give it to him - i'm sure he would appreciate it.
 
toxic.monkey said...
Dec. 21, 2009 at 2:17 pm
this is an amazing piece of writing, dude! really, it gives a feel of mr. z and shows your opinion of him without saying it. i enjoyed reading it:D
 
Site Feedback