(Mr. Jones & I at my IB Banquet)
The greatest teacher I have ever had wasn’t the teacher I had for the easiest class or for the class I got the highest grade in, but the teacher that made me truly think. Mr. Jones (shout-out) is the best teacher I have had in all of my schooling thus far. He was my International Baccalaureate Senior Year History teacher. Previous to meeting Mr. Jones, I had been told horror stories about how he was the hardest teacher at my school. I was actually scared to do the IB program because I knew it meant that I was going to have Mr. Jones. I had heard stories of him making huge football players cry and how gave everyone terrible grades. However, I amped myself up enough to enroll in IB and the thought of having Mr. Jones fell to the back of my mind until the first day of senior year. Before having him as a teacher, I had interacted with Mr. Jones because he was an advisor for a club I was president of; however, I knew having him as a teacher was a completely different experience than just discussing what our next club meeting should focus on.
After having Mr. Jones I can honestly say that I have never had a better teacher in my entire life. He pushed my class to do things that were outside of our comfort zone and were out of the ordinary. For instance, instead of taking notes that we essentially would copy straight down from the board, Mr. Jones barely wrote anything on the board but rather lectured and it was up to us to determine what was important for us to know. I think that this is one thing that definitely prepared me for college, because lets face it, professors don’t tell you everything you need to know about a certain topic.
Mr. Jones always had us do activities that were out of the ordinary and I think that these activities really helped everyone in my class to truly know the information we were learning. Some of these things included, writing policy briefs on some of the smaller civil wars in the late 20th century, collaborating with other students to prepare presentations on the treaties made in the interwar period, creating art pieces that captured the solidarity movements that essentially ended the Cold War, and so many more assignments like these. Mr. Jones also had our class read 2 fantastic books and write book reviews on them. The two books were Peacemakers: The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War by Margaret MacMillan and The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis. People in my classes and classes before mine despised these books and the book reviews because these books were extremely long. However, Mr. Jones provided a guide of what days we should read which pages and this made it much easier to follow along, if you actually followed it. I think that one of the main reasons Mr. Jones had us do this type of assignment was because this is the type of work you are required to do at the higher education level. In college, often times professors have required readings, but would have no idea if you read them except for on the tests, where you would most likely fail miserably. I feel that Mr. Jones’ book review assignments allowed me to see the importance and how interesting historical texts can be if you actually read them. This gave me the discipline to know that you HAVE to read in college or you will be lost.
In the end, I think that I ended up with a low A in Mr. Jones’ class but that wasn’t why I think he is the best teacher I ever had. He taught me what it meant to actually think and question history and how there are gaps within our record of it. He taught me what it meant to actually work my butt off in a class, making the grade I got in there so much more worth it than the classes were I was basically handed an A. He taught me the importance of knowing my rights as a citizen (he carries a pocket constitution with him at all times.) He taught me and so many others the importance of having integrity in our academic work, and he taught me that learning could actually be fun once again! I can only hope that one day I can be even half as good of a teacher as Mr. Jones was for me.