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We Went to School Together: Introduction Part II
by Raymond G. Briscoe, Ph.D.
Aug 16, 2010 | 2129 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RAY BRISCOE’S new book tells of Bountiful High School’s early years.
RAY BRISCOE’S new book tells of Bountiful High School’s early years.
Through my university studies I was able to identify the characteristics of great teaching. There are four essentials to good teaching and a fifth characteristic which is very helpful , but not a requirement. First, you must know the subject and related interests of what you are teaching. I have heard teachers say that they could stay ahead of the students in any subject if they had a good text book. How wrong! It is possible to “BS” your way through any class, but great teaching requires a fundamental depth of understanding of the subject matter. I went to school every quarter for over ten years to grasp an understanding I did not have when I started teaching.

Second, a great teacher must have a lot of arrows in his or her quiver. What works with students one year may not work the next year. What went over well with the students in the fourth period may flop when offered to the sixth period. Great teachers can sense what is working and what is not working and fix it on the spot. A variety of teaching methodologies is a requirement to maintain the interest of the students.

The third ability is the willingness to hang with the student who needs the extra help. Learning is not always an easy turn in the road. Just look at your own life. How many of the important lessons you have learned in your own life have been difficult? Was not the learning curve painful? Good teachers will stay with the student and assure him or her, “You can get this, I know you can!”

Strong productive encouragement is an essential key for learners. The fourth characteristic comes from the heart. I heard a school counselor with a Ph.D. tell teachers in the faculty room that Hitler had good

ideas to help young people learn. I’ve also known teachers who hate their job and see their own time as a waste in the classroom. This is a most unfortunate tragedy. I think the word love is appropriate. Some prefer to use the word caring, or having the students’ interests at heart. I think students who are loved are the ones most likely to learn what any teacher wants to teach.

The fifth characteristic is not a requirement, but very useful. One of the very best teachers at Bountiful High had her humor buds shot off in some early war. Nevertheless, she taught the kids what she wanted them to learn, and it made a very positive difference in their lives. Humor takes the edge off some

difficulties, and in my judgment keeps the classroom alive and vibrant. When students are afraid they may miss something, they do pay attention. Trying to write the experiences that demonstrate what I have shared

above was difficult. I decided in the middle of the writing project to interview some students and see what they perceived about my teaching. It became another learning experience for me. I interviewed more than 100 of my former students.

I tried to get those who were troublesome and well as those who had succeeded beyond expectations. Only two students refused a requested interview. I interviewed several of them that I could still locate. Some included Orlin Ford, Kim Burningham, Dee Buringham, Margaret Jensen, Vivian Stapely, Max Hall,

Steve Cottrell, Dan Jones, and Don Perkins, who was also an effective administrator.

It is my opinion that Bountiful High School was a very special and excellent educational institution. That was true for a number of reasons. Mr. Robert Keddington was an exceptional principal. We had our differences, but he knew what he was doing and did it very well. The faculty was a very strong faculty.

Many went on to achieve honors in the collegiate world, the business world, and

in other pursuits, including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I believe Mr.

Keddington had a natural instinct in recognizing teaching potential in

individuals. Believe me, this is a rare gift.

The quality of the school also certainly reflects the parents of the community. Yes, they were a conservative lot. They also cared deeply about their children and generally set a positive example for their children. There were a few real losers, but the inept parents were a small percentage of the parent

population. The leadership from the students who attended Bountiful High is amazing. They have filled significant leadership positions in government, faith organizations, the news world, universities, the military, and elsewhere. They taught me. I taught them. It was a privilege.

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