And the Golden Apple Award Goes To…

Maureen Schick, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Each year, the Golden Apple Awards program improves community awareness of the quality of education in Green Bay by recognizing high standards of professionalism, leadership and innovation in teaching through the Golden Apple Award.

But what makes a teacher worthy of the Golden Apple Award? Could it be the sarcastic humor of Mr. Guyette? The dynamic and spirited teachings of Mrs. Brown? Or the straightforward and to-the-point lessons from Mrs. Hearden?

In my opinion, a Golden Apple Award-Winning teacher has several integral qualities:

  1. An engaging personality and teaching style

Sitting through 45 minutes of any subject multiplied by the eight hours in a school day can become boring for any student. A great teacher is very engaging and holds the attention of students throughout the class and in discussions. This helps us get involved in the discussions and learning process–and keeps things interesting.

  1. Clear objectives for the lessons that day

Since we have to be there, we don’t just want to sit around looking at the clock. If we are given tasks to complete or are working towards something, that makes the time go by that much faster, while also letting us feel as though we are making progress in that subject.

  1. High expectations of their students

In my experience, some of the best classes I have been in are the classes where my teachers have held my classmates and me to a higher standard than most would. When teachers hold us to high expectations, it challenges us to rise to the occasion, meet and even exceed those expectations laid before us. I’ve realized that the most demanding teachers I’ve had are the ones who have taught me the most, not only in the subject matter but also in helping me develop other skills such as creativity, curiosity, and resilience. Demanding teachers never let us settle for anything less than our best. In addition, Golden Apple Award-winning teachers don’t ever give up on those that don’t meet their high expectations. They do everything in their power to help their students succeed, and when we don’t, they help us learn from our failures.  

  1. Encouragement of the learning process while discouraging a focus solely on grades

I’ve noticed this year that many teachers have been highlighting the process of learning by not penalizing us for one bad grade. Instead, they calculate a grade by looking at the continuous performance of the student and overall trend of student performance. This does not at all mean that grades do not matter, every student knows they do, but it allows us to focus more on the learning process rather than just one grade. It also lets us learn the material long-term if we are actually interested in the learning process, rather than just cramming and reproducing the material for the sole purpose of achieving a “good grade.”

  1. A passion for what they are teaching

Have you ever noticed how much more you learn from passionate people? The teachers in the past that have inspired me the most are the ones that are passionate about what they are doing. I cannot emphasize this enough: their love for learning is infectious. When we see a teacher who is excited about the lesson for the day or just passionate about the subject, it makes us a thousand times more excited for it too. When we see teachers fiercely devoted to their  work and inspiring the many students they teach, we tend to listen better, buy in to what they are saying, and remember it later.