Whether you left school 5,10 or even 40 years ago (like me), how much difference can a GREAT teacher make? Do you remember particular teachers? Some for all the right reasons, some for the wrong reasons. I know I do!
On National Teachers Day 2021, I’ve been remembering one of my first teachers in infant school. Mr Moyle was an unusual teacher, he wasn’t particularly friendly, in fact he had a tendency to be quite strict and a bit scary. He wasn’t stylish or trendy either. He looked more like an undertaker than a teacher as he always wore black. He was unmarried and didn’t have children of his own. He wasn’t a big character, didn’t have a loud voice and he was so tall and gangly that he always looked odd in photographs when positioned behind a choir or band! I’m not exactly sure how old he was then. You don’t really think about that when you’re that young, do you? But, his legacy, which has stayed with me throughout my life, was his interest and skill in making music.
Like many, I started off on the recorder with all the obligatory, painful squeaks, and then went on to play a variety of other instruments, none of them particularly well, until I found the piano. I still have a piano in my house. Mr Moyle was the only reason I wanted to be in school at that time. He organised and ran a myriad of different instrumental and singing groups and I belonged to all of them! We did school concerts, music festivals and even stage musicals on a borrowed platform.
I was no child star, but I loved all that he offered and his enthusiasm and passion for his subject shone out of him across all that were involved. I have so many lasting memories of those first years, until I had to leave primary school and move on, but even then I carried my love of music into the next phase and beyond into adulthood. My favourite way to spend an evening is still a night out at some theatre musical or concert!
I’m sure Mr Moyle isn’t alive now, but I wonder if he realised the huge difference he made to my life and other children at that school. I blossomed in the magical, musical world of Mr Moyle. That teacher who seemed to play every musical instrument on earth. Those experiences not only taught me how to make music, but so much more. My self esteem and confidence grew, I made lifelong friends, I learnt how sharing a common interest brings joy and fulfillment and, importantly, I respected this rather strange, introverted music maestro. I wonder how many other schools would benefit from their own Mr Moyle? And I wonder what he would have to say now I earn my living as a tutor and teacher? Not in music maybe, but still aiming to inspire my students with a love of all things English!
How much difference can a GREAT teacher make? The world, probably.