Teachers can make a world of difference in our lives, in both good and bad ways. Some teachers are supportive and kind, challenging their students to truly do their best. Others end up squashing students’ potential, even if they don’t really intend to do it. Below are some of our favorite teachers in children’s and young adult books that help to support and foster positivity in their classrooms. They all might take different approaches or even teach magical subjects, but there is something to learn from every single one.
Mr. Ingman, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
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Above everything else, Mr. Ingman believes in his students. In a terrible car accident, Julia’s sister dies her senior year. Julia struggles with not only her sister’s death, but her identity as a daughter, writer, and individual. Mr. Ingman works to develop relationship with not only Julia, but each of his students. He is supportive of her as she handles her grief, even helping her find a therapist to discuss her issues with a professional, but he never stops challenging her in the classroom.
Mr. Ingman sees immense potential in Julia as a writer and doesn’t allow her to limit herself. He encourages her to apply to college writing programs that she sees as too lofty for a young Hispanic girl from Chicago. Mr. Ingman never allows barriers to affect Julia’s potential as both a student and a writer. His investment in his students personal and academic lives is an incredible example for all teachers.
Professor McGonagall, The Harry Potter Series
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Minerva McGonagall is a great balance between being a no-nonsense educator and a kindhearted teacher. Even though some of her students try to slip things by her, she is always at the top of her game. She may have high expectations and give lots of work, but she truly cares about her students. Whether she is buying Harry a broomstick so he can join the Quidditch team or giving Hermione a time turner to attend more classes, she is always working to provide opportunities for her students.
Professor McGonagall pushes her students and challenges them to be their best. Her students have immense respect for her, but they aren’t scared of her the same way they are of some other Hogwarts teachers (*cough cough* Professor Snape *cough cough*). At every turn, Professor McGonagall is supporting and challenging her students in unique ways.
Mr. Terupt, Because of Mr. Terupt
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Seven students at Snow Hill school discover the power of one teacher when they walk into Mr. Terupt’s classroom. Told from the perspective of seven of Mr. Terupt’s students, this heartwarming story reminds readers that a good teacher has an effect both inside and outside the classroom. Between his journaling activities and creative classroom projects, Mr. Terupt is an engaged and exciting teacher.
But most importantly, develops personal relationships with each of his students. Not only does he teach them reading and math skills, but he teaches them to boldly be themselves and overcome personal challenges. In Mr. Terupt’s classroom, students learn to accept others and express their ideas and feelings in productive ways. Mr. Terupt doesn’t focus on teaching content, but rather on teaching students, which makes him a strong and successful teacher.
Mr. Bruner/Chiron, The Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series
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Chiron, the Greek trainer of heroes, helps Percy throughout this series to become a better fighter and a better man. Although he initially lies to Percy about his identity, his lies are only to support Percy’s safety. Chiron knows that Percy is capable, smart, and brave, even when his student might not know it himself. Whether Chiron is teaching at Yancy Academy or in the sanctuary of Camp Half-Blood he is helping his students become independent.
Never losing the opportunity to teach a moral lesson, Chiron helps all the heroes at Camp Half-Blood become their strongest selves. Throughout the series, Chiron provides guidance and helps his heroes on their own personal journeys. Although Percy and his friends may bend the rules sometimes, Chiron always does what is best for them.
Ms. Frizzle, The Magic School Bus Series
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Throughout the Magic School Bus series, Ms. Frizzle finds new ways to engage her students in the content she is teaching. Ms. Frizzle takes her students on an adventure in the classroom, both literally and figuratively. Whether she is taking her students to the bottom of the ocean or back to the age of dinosaurs, Ms. Frizzle’s classroom is always somewhere fun and exciting to be. From her wardrobe to her enthusiastic teaching style, Ms. Frizzle is engaging and challenging her students at every turn.
Ms. Frizzle does an excellent job making a teaching moment memorable. Even though most classroom teachers don’t have the magic that Ms. Frizzle does, they can learn from her immersive teaching strategies and positive attitude in the classroom. Ms. Frizzle makes her students care about what she teaches in her classroom and connects her curriculum to her students’ lives in powerful ways. Ms. Frizzle is a great example of a teacher who loves teaches that wants to make her students love learning.