The most inspiring teacher

I remember this moment as if it happened yesterday; I was about to take the oral part of my university entrance exam.  It was a hot summer day and my exam was scheduled for late afternoon. 'Bad timing', I thought, 'the committee will be tired'. A group of five other students (my rivals and competitors) and I were waiting anxiously for the door to open and the committee to call us in. When the door finally opened for a short moment, I could see him - my most inspiring teacher. I could feel his charisma immediately, it was like a blast of energy, and this moment filled me with awe and admiration (yes, before I heard him utter a single word). But the door closed again and we had to wait a few more minutes for the interview. Meanwhile, some students, my future friends and kindred spirits, were discussing how difficult it was the previous year to pass the exam, which would have, under normal circumstances, scared the hell out of me because I desperately wanted the place. But for some reason, from then on, I wasn't afraid. Although I got the results of the exam almost four weeks later, I knew I had passed right after the interview, right on the spot. And I was enjoying this sense of anticipation and excitement. The interview was one of the most enjoyable and victorious moments in my professional life (another I remember was my final state exam). Anyway, as I said, the man in the room later became one of my most inspiring teachers, and he was also my helpful MA thesis supervisor. 

Without the slightest hesitation I can claim that he had me wrapped around his finger from the very beginning - I would have done anything to please him. So I worked really hard. When he once appreciated my work saying: ".... and you thoughtful work has not remained unnoticed", I felt on cloud nine and worked even harder. And my effort was fruitful. Today I should thank this man for all I know about applied linguistics and teaching. Not that he taught me everything I know now; there were other great teachers. What I’m most grateful for is the fact that he inspired me to keep looking and continue studying.  

I had always wondered why this particular teacher was so inspiring and charming. I clearly had a soft spot for this man. It even crossed my mind that we had met in our previous lives. I kept wondering until that Friday afternoon when I was taking my father home in my car and I caught a glimpse of his eyes in the rear-view mirror. It suddenly dawned on me that the teacher resembled my father! There was something about the way he walked, the way he looked at people, and his habit of sarcastically dismissing my (and other people's) answers (and thus actually challenging me), and most of all, his sometimes cynical sense of humour..... 

What's the point of this post then? A lot has been written about 'the' ideal teacher (a really great post here). But I believe that being a good teacher is not just about what one does in the classroom and what he or she is like. It's about each and every student's background and their deepest, subconscious emotions which they bring to the lessons. I personally know a teenage student who apparently hates all female teachers but has no problem with male teachers. This must have some deep psychological roots and unfortunately, we can't do much to change the situation. What I’m trying to say is that the teaching profession is more complex than just a set of classroom management and methodology rules; it's about who we are and where we've come from.