What I Learned From My 10th Grade World History Teacher

We all have that one teacher; the one we actually learn something from. Growing up in the Christian school, it wasn’t until my 10th grade year when I saw the love for teaching in one of my teachers. For many of the teachers, I don’t know why they taught school. They seemed to dread standing in front of a classroom. Others were teaching for the discounted tuition for their children. I understand that; I was blessed to partake of the free tuition for my son when I taught school.

It took one eccentric teacher to show me how to love history and teaching. I even learned a few more things to boot.

What I Learned From My 10th Grade World History Teacher

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There was talk of a new teacher at the school. She would teach History, PE, and coach the girl’s teams. She was not the typical teacher found in the other classrooms; there was something different about her.

Right out of college. She had a flare no other teacher had. The young woman loved teaching. She marched to the beat of her own drum. She loved teaching. She talked in a manner that made me stop and listen. There was compassion in her teaching.

This teacher did not come across as a know it all. Nor did she wear a cloak of a dictatorship like some other younger teachers. She was a teacher who understood what it was like to struggle as a teenager. Her door was always opened no matter what.

When I walked into her classroom that first morning, I didn’t realize what was about to happen...

In my past learning experiences, every teacher opened the book, read the book, and closed the book. I hated history and anything related to it.

I received my World History book and a study guide; something no other teacher gave. As I listened to the expectations of this teacher, I knew I was in for a rude awakening. There was homework. But not just any homework. She expected us to answer the study guide, while highlighting in our books during class. What we did not finish became homework.

I was ready. I had my pen and highlighter along with notebook paper and my World History book. Instead of writing on the study guide, I numbered the notebook paper. This was something the teacher suggested, to make it easier for studying.

That morning, I listened to the foundations of studying history in chapter 1. I noticed something. The book was not being read. In fact, I found myself with only a few entries for the study guide completed. That night, I completed the related questions on the study guide.

The next morning, we covered the Sumerian civilization. When the bell rang, I realized my study guide had no answers; I highlighted nothing. Thankfully, I could get the highlighting from a friend that afternoon in Study Hall.

Every morning after that, I knew to focus on the highlighting because the study guide was the highlighted material. But it was hard. I couldn’t take my eyes off the teacher for even a split second. I was caught up in the world’s history.

Instead of reading the book line by line. This amazing teacher taught history as a story. In her “stories” she explained everything and answered questions that came up. She loved teaching!

What I Learned from my 10th Grade World History Teacher

That year, a door opened for me – the love of history.

What I Learned From My 10th Grade World History Teacher

During the second week of school, the office asked if I would consider being a teacher’s aide for PE. I thought, ugh! I finished my years of PE. Why would I want to go back there and lose out on a study hall?

I grew up with all those crazy boys. Most of them were in my class since second grade. The new girl, the only other girl in the class was an extrovert, I was an introvert. I needed to find an escape, even if it meant the dreaded PE class.

Being a teacher’s aide opened opportunities for me. I learned to jump rope. But not just plain old jumping rope because anyone can do that, right? I learned how to Double Dutch. To be young again!

I had my first try with Aerobics. Imagine... doing aerobics to a tape recorder with a chart hanging on the wall with all the steps. Not just any aerobics. It was classical music aerobics for the Christian woman. Let’s just say, those steps didn’t stay with the classical music.

Once I learned all the steps, I taught them to some friends after school, and we “exercised” to the likes of Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You  Go-Go", Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”, and REO Speedwagon’s Can’t Fight this Feeling”. None of us had any moves, so we exercised to our favorite songs.

I also learned how to teach the girls on the volleyball and basketball teams about the sports. That year, I had my first actual teaching experience. The teacher was out for a week; I was in charge of all the PE activities. There were lesson plans for me to follow, but I was the teacher.

I realized that year I wanted to be a teacher.

What I Learned From My 10th Grade World History Teacher

I was excited about playing sports with a new coach.

I didn’t play sports my ninth grade year because I knew what it was like to sit on the bench ALL. SEASON. LONG. It felt like a waste of money for my parents to pay those athletic fees and then not get to play.

But with a new coach my 10th grade year, I knew (at least I hoped) I would play.

As a coach, she understood what it meant to be on a team where only a select few athletes played the games. Because of this experience, her first year coaching volleyball and basketball was not a winning year. That meant for me, my last year of playing sports was a losing year. While I knew what it was like to sit, I also knew what it was like to win even if I didn’t play. Sitting hurts a lot more losing than it does winning.

Volleyball was my sport. I was told in the junior high PE classes, I should join the team. Funny, I was on the team.

But this one year, I knew I would play. I was a starter, and I helped the other girls if they missed a ball.

I’ll never forget the last two games of the season. We won those games only because the other schools were first-year volleyball teams.

Most of the girls that played volleyball in the past didn’t that year. Some waited for basketball. (We had a better team, we won several games, but everyone had to play.) While others waited for softball in the spring.

When spring came around for softball season, they expected me to play. “Someone else is coaching the softball team this yearIt is going to be a winning season,” I was told, “I didn’t have to worry about putting in all the extra work to pick up where a new player fell short”. “The more experienced girls will lead the team again”.

It hurt me. I was sad. It disappointed me. It was my last year attending the school.

I chose not to play softball that year, because it would be a season like all the others from my past. I was not a softball player. I wanted to be, but it just wasn’t my sport. Again, I would have been one of those sitting in the dugout. ALL. SEASON. LONG.

Of all the teachers I’ve had, there are only two I’ve kept in contact with over the years. Today, my World History teacher and coach is an Associate Professor and Theatre Director at a college. She has lived her life learning so she could continue to teach others.

I learned something from this woman and I hope I never forget it. I learned how to show kindness and compassion to others, even when it is not popular.

What I Learned From My 10th Grade World History Teacher


  1. Oh, Lori! I know exactly what it is like to sit all season long. You're right sittings doesn't hurt as bad when the team is winning. I hope you share this with your wonderful high school teacher. She deserves to read this.

    1. Thanks Denise. I do plan on passing this along to her.


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