My blog exploded this weekend.
Well, a little. I didn’t receive more followers or more likes, but I did get hits. So many hits. Sometimes I link my blog post to Facebook, but not all the time, and I decided not to publicize my last post right away. It felt too personal to advertise, so I simply wrote it and hit publish. Despite that, within 24 hours links to my post were popping up all over Facebook and Twitter from former classmates and the school’s alumni page. Mr. Lund himself shared a link, saying he was in a state of “shock” over my article. Before, I averaged about 10-20 views a day, maybe more on days I published a post. When the post about Mr. Lund went up, I received 130-180 hits a day. Within 48 hours “The English Teacher Who Danced to Mozart” beat out “6 Reasons Teen Blogs are Awesome” as my most visited post of all time.
I know why. All this increase in traffic says nothing about me as a blogger, but it speaks volumes about Mr. Lund as a teacher. Almost all the links went up on alumni pages and classmates’ profiles. As the body of Mr. Lund’s former students, we collectively joined together to celebrate this man who influenced so many of us. A few of my friends who never knew Mr. Lund also shared my post, with comments like “I wish I’d had this teacher!” I do, too. I wish everyone could experience a teacher like him.
I’ve had many good teachers throughout my life. The math teacher that successfully guided me through AP Calculus, even though – ehem – I don’t like math. The drama coach that opened up the world of responsibility and professionalism in addition to talent. The history teacher that took me under her wing and mentored me as an individual beginning to take on the world. The strict but hilarious English professor, complete with deep voice and elbow patches on his tweed coat, that taught my favorite college lit classes. These teachers taught me well, mentored me, and helped me to grow. I dream to be like them. I have confidence in my teaching ability and know that I do my job well. I’ve received confirmation from students and administration alike that I am a good at what I do. I am a good teacher. But a great one?
Mr. Lund was – is – a great teacher, and it seems egotistical to think I could ever be close to being like him (in my own way, of course. I’ve already forgotten Mozart’s birthday). He made teenage kids fall in love with opera and Shakespeare and poetry and classical music. He inspired me, a self-proclaimed English nerd, but he also inspired everyone else, too. His influence is widespread and across the board, simply by being the man that he is. I just have to look at my stats page as proof.
What is it that separates the good from the great? Why are some teachers remembered fondly with a warm smile, while others inspire books and movies to be made about them? Because while I loved my other teachers, in my mind Mr. Lund lives among the ranks of Mr. Keating from Dead Poets Society, Ms. Gruwell from Freedom Writers, and Mr. Tolson from The Great Debaters.
I want to know more. Tell me about your great teachers. Tell me about the one teacher who could be made into a movie, whom if you wrote a blog post about that person, your classmates would celebrate with you and explode your stats page. Tell me what made them great, what separated them from the rest.
I’ll admit, though, that part of me is scared to ask. I’m afraid of the comparison. Because I know I’m a good teacher… but could I ever be like them?