teacher's day picture

Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day, a time to honor and celebrate the hard work and dedication of teachers across the nation. Just last week I learned of the death of a favorite high school teacher, and as saddened as I was to read her obituary it also served as a reminder of what made her so special.

When I was a junior Mrs. Oppenhimer assigned a lengthy paper that counted heavily in our overall grade. We were to research and write about an 18th-century British author and, while she provided a list from which to choose, I simply could not summon any enthusiasm for the assignment. Today, as an instructional designer, I understand the reason writing about someone long gone didn’t resonate was because it missed the WIFM mark (What’s In it For Me?). It was 1978, however, at a school so grounded in traditions from years past that the ability to recite the first lines of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales had become an unspoken graduation requirement. We were disciplined students who accepted what was expected and never thought to question an assignment.

But I wanted to write about something of interest to me.
And I was a HUGE fan of the Beatles.

I cautiously approached Mrs. Oppenhimer with a request to write about a more contemporary group of English authors, rather than one from her list. She seemed receptive, so I took the leap and shared that The Beatles was the group I had in mind. They were song writers, after all. I awaited her answer, acutely aware that she might not appreciate my 16-year-old logic.

She said YES!

I don’t know if WIFM was an acronym in 1978, but Mrs. Oppenhimer clearly recognized two things when she honored my request:

  1. I would be far more invested writing about something that I found to be relevant and meaningful
  2. Allowing me to write about the Beatles would in no way compromise the original assignment objectives, and could result in an improved outcome for a reluctant student

How did I do?  To this day the paper remains one of the best I’ve ever written.

Thank you to Mrs. Oppenhimer and all teachers whose dedication makes a difference every day, and an extra special shout out to our SON Nurse Educators!

music notes

Categories Learner Engagement, Learning Objectives, Uncategorized

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