“Discuss a learning experience you had that was highly memorable, and how that affected your perception of teaching and learning. (Make sure to link it back to the readings discussing why it was memorable from our understanding of learning and memory)”
I wrote down the above just to get my thoughts going about what to write, but I am going to leave it in for the sheer joy that it brings me when I think of my time in class with my favourite teacher. This teacher helped me realize what kind of teacher I want to be: a caring person who is constantly challenging my students to be the best they can possibly be.
Muriel Morris, who still teaches at the same high school I went to, is a master teacher. She loves her students, or at least I know she loved me. Sure, she was tough on us, but I believe that she knew we had potential to be great, and she pushed us to demonstrate that we could meet her high expectations.
Ms. Morris is unique. She is passionate. She is highly esteemed. Her way of teaching shared her enthusiasm for great literature and imparted her knowledge of the subject in a distinct way. She is remarkable.
Last year when my son, Matthew, was in Grade 9, he brought home notes about Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and when he showed me his notes, I admit my heart did a little dance. You see, his notes had drawings of dachshunds all over them. Clearly these notes had been illustrated by my dear teacher, Ms. Morris!
To see that Ms. Morris had published her dachshund drawings in a book entitled Shakespeare Made Easy: An Illustrated Approach just made sense. Those sketches brought the writings of The Bard to life for me as a teenager, and they still stay with me today. They made sense of a form of literature that is difficult to understand. To see my teacher’s beloved dog cartoons acting out classic Shakespearian plays made class fun, enjoyable and legendary (in terms of education at Chilliwack Senior Secondary School). I know Ms. Morris’ teachings using these drawings impacted many, many students.
From Muriel Morris’ illustrated Shakespeare play: http://www.doxidelight.com/shakespeare/r3/richard.html
Learning all about Shakespeare’s works from Ms. Morris was all about episodic memory. The way in which she used storytelling made the plays come to life. “We have a framework for stories.” (Dirksen, 2012) is most significant in a Literature 12 course because literature is all about the story. When reading these classic works, I relate to the characters, the situations, the plots, the problems and the resolutions. I connect much more with a story than I do with a list of facts such as in using our semantic memory.
I also feel like Ms. Morris’ classes were also playing on my flashbulb memories. I recall snippets of time. I recall her voice. I recall her intonation when she would read passages of Shakespeare to our class. I recall her dressing up as the Grinch for Halloween, big heart and all. Her devilish laugh and her mischevious grin. These seemingly insignificant details in the scope of “education” created an environment in which I loved to learn. I appreciated every class with Ms. Morris and I am grateful that I was able to learn from her.
Elaboration, organization and visual imagery as defined and explained in Table 2.2 on page 31 of Jeanne Ellis Ormrod’s Essentials of Educational Psychology all describe what Ms. Morris did for her students. She helped us learn by:
“Adding additional ideas to new information based on what one already knows…Making connections among various pieces of new information…Forming a mental picture of something; either by actually seeing it or by envisioning how it might look”
I have taken many classes from many teachers, but no learning was as memorable as all that I learned from Ms. Morris. I am going to email her a link to this blog post. I hope she realizes how much I appreciate all that she taught me. Thank you, Ms. Morris!