Number Seventeen – Help Them Shine! – The 30 Goals Challenge

One of the books I remember reading for the course - Sociolinguistics: An Introduction to Language and Society by Peter Trudgill

As a student, either in Canada or in Greece later on, or in university after that, I have been lucky in the fact that I have had a lot of teachers and professors whom I remember very fondly. This happened for the reason that they were great people and educators, and that they encouraged students to build on their inclinations and even in subjects where they sometimes struggled, to try hard and believe in themselves.

I remember in university having a tough time with Sociolinguistics. I really loved listening to our lecturer, and participating in class discussions (sometimes, as I usually hesitated to contribute, as I thought I would say something silly) and reading the material, but I still felt I was barely keeping my head above water.

One day, our professor asked us a question and I thought whether I should raise my hand and answer. Better not, I thought. You will probably say something and embarrass yourself in front of so many people (it was always a full house with this woman – she was such a great educator in many respects!). So some students were waiting to answer with hands raised. Suddenly I saw her turn to me. “You!” she said loudly. “You over there.” I was petrified with fear, I am sure I turned red as well. “I want you to answer.” And she came right in front of me (I always sat in the front row). “Well?” she said. So I answered in a low voice and she said: “Right. Look what you have done. First you don’t want to answer at all. Then you whisper your answer, you have deprived the class of a great opinion! And everyone’s opinion counts in here!” she boomed. (Even when she was praising us, she did it in a very loud tone.) “I learn from you too, you know!” and she gave us all big smile. “If you hesitate to anwer me once more”, she told me (in her loud tone again), “I’ll come over there and stand in front of you until you let it out! Got it?” and then she winked at me.

I cannot tell you that from that day on that Sociolinguistics became one of my favourite courses. I just loved studying it and yes, taking part in class conversations. I just had not given myself the chance up to then to see what I could do. I thought that I could not understand the complex notions. So what if I gave the wrong answer? I would learn from someone else. Needless to say, that was another day when I decided that if I ever became a teacher, I would never give up on any student of mine. And to this day, I have not.


18 thoughts on “Number Seventeen – Help Them Shine! – The 30 Goals Challenge

    1. Kalimera Victoria!

      Wow, I am so excited here – yes, it is her I am talking about : ) When were you at Aristotle? I was there from 1997-2001! She was such a great professor, I loved her. Thank you so much for commenting Victoria, I can’t believe you know her too : )

      Kindest regards,

      1. I thought that you may be talking about her because she was one of the most inspiring educators I’ve met. She taught us (among others) that it’s not only what you teach but also how you teach. We were lucky to have met her! I was at Aristotle from 2000-2004.

        Have a great day,

      2. I am so glad, Victoria! She has touched so many people. So you were there when I was too, such a shame our paths never crossed! Perhaps when I come to Greece.

        Thank you so much for your comment!

      1. Will definitely do so and thank you very much for your wonderful words – you give me a lot of strength and motivation!

        Pollous heretismous,

  1. What an inspiring story!
    And it proves the domino effect (or whatever we should call it) once again – a teacher made a positive impact on you and it helped you make positive impact on others!
    Your students are lucky to have you!

    1. Hi Naomi!

      Thanks very much for your comment – I love the notion of the domino effect, well said! Thnk you so much for your kind words and support, I really appreciate it. Your students are very very fortunate as well!

      Have a great day,

  2. Sometimes I’m surprised about the stories that inspire others. The fact that she put the spotlight on you, a normally shy and evidently insecure student, and it made you talk is something I do all the time with students in my classes. I think it’s important to spread the mic around, so to speak, so that not only a handful of students dominate the interaction with me. However, if I’d been you, I’m sure I would have prayed that she’d just have left me alone to learn as I wished, silently. Maybe though, the motivation for wanting to be silent would be different if it had been me.

    Anyways, way she made it clear that she too was a learner and that everyone’s opinion was valid certainly is commendable. Apparently from Victoria’s comments, she was inspiring too.

    1. Quick, unrelated questions – do you have automatic tags on your posts or do you choose them? I’m wondering how half of the tags used on this post are relevant to it.

      1. Actually no, good thing you mentioned it because some tags are completely irrelevant – I think it happened because I was typing on my Coke-infested computer, which is on its last legs : )


    2. Hi Tyson!

      Thanks for reading and commenting. That is great, that you encourage all of your students to speak – when I was in university and now when I sometimes observe classes, not all teachers do this. They prefer to depend on the more talkative students in order for the “lesson to run more smoothly”, “I can’t be bothered to make so-and -so talk, s/he will never speak anyway” and so. I must say that this was a very important moment for me, as even since I was in school in Greece I had problems speaking up in class, because I was afraid of making mistakes or in the early days because of my broken Greek accent (which I was taunted about and completely hindered me from speaking). So the fact that you do it is excellent and the fact that you consider it to be something natural is also something to praise, as that means that you have incorporated it in your classes from the beginning.

      She was great and this post has brought back some great memories – I would love to track her down and see whether she is still teaching. Of course, the day that this incident happened, I almost died on the spot when she singled me out, but it had good results, I think!

      Thanks Tyson,

  3. Hi Vicky!

    I tried to put myself in your shoes and as a student I think I’d have reacted the same way as you and Tyson.

    As a teacher, I too, try to include everyone but I wouldn’t have gone for such a direct way.
    But the fact that she got the best out of you only shows that she knew something about you that you didn’t want to admit yourself? 😉 which is what makes her the great educator you said she was.

    Great story. Will follow the rest of the goals through your blog!



    1. Hi Dina!

      Thank you so much for reading and leaving such a nice comment – it is wonderful to hear that you include everyone (which was certain, considering the great educator you are!). I admit, I froze because I was singled out – I was that kind of personality, I needed that push to see what I could do : ) She was great and I hope she is still teaching so other people can have the chances I did and learn from her.

      I am very fortunate to know you Dina!

      Efcharisto toso poly,

  4. Great post, Vicky! It is easy to recognize onself in your story: I think that, at some point of our lives, we have all met teachers who have taught us valuable lessons, and the best of them alwaysseem to happen in a snap. All in all, it’s your conclusion what I like best: each and every teacher should be as determined as you are not to let anyone fall behind in class, which is often a hard task.

    1. Hi Paco!

      Thank you so much for reading and your lovely comment. I am happy you liked it!

      I am also happy you identify with the story: that means that you have great memories from great educators as well and you in turn, are also an awesome one! I have faith that there are a lot out there!

      Muchas gracias,

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