Everyone has their favorite teachers. Listening to their classes makes you enjoy courses instead of bearing their “didactic lectures.” Here at Beijing No.4 High School International Campus, my favorite teacher is Lori Runkle, our AP English Language and Composition teacher.
Ms. Runkle enjoys getting to know more about students individually, so I have many opportunities to talk with her after class. I have always wished to become a journalist and since Ms. Runkle used to be a journalist back in the States, she has introduced many helpful journalistic writing skills to me. We also share our opinions over various kinds of issues on Facebook.
Besides being my teacher, Ms. Runkle and I are more like friends. She often invites my classmates and me to take part in different activities outside of school. For instance, I went to listen to an Economist’s journalist’s lecture and the journalist gave me insight on many current events.
Not only does Ms. Runkle chat with me outside of school, she is also a great teacher in the classroom. AP English is a really challenging subject for a second language learner. I felt overwhelmed at the beginning of the course, but Ms. Runkle genuinely makes an effort to help us out. She patiently illustrates what we need to do to master the skills required for the AP test. She posts homework practices with detailed explanations so it is crystal clear for the students. I had many problems with my analysis essay, so Ms. Runkle spent the self-study period helping me to polish my essay. I was able to enhance my writing skills and further understand rhetorical writing strategies.
In class, Ms. Runkle always leads students to question everything to keep us active. One part of class I love the most is when groups of students are assigned to present current events that are happening worldwide. It is essential for us, who are generally unmindful of these “irrelevant issues,” to practice our critical thinking and learn how to be responsible in our global community.
From my perspective, the definition of my “favorite teacher” is quite clear; they are those not only recognized as teachers who can help you to get a satisfactory score, but also as friends who know you well and are able to give you advice in life.
Tell me about yourself.
My name is Lori Runkle. I’m an AP English Language and Composition teacher.
Do you have family in Beijing and if not, do you miss them?
I couldn’t sleep last night, so I called my mom at 1am and told her I ordered flowers for her birthday. Silly as it sounds, I miss my cat, Seymour. Skype makes it easier to feel less home sick.
How long have you lived in Beijing?
A year and three months. I heard that Beijing No.4 High School was a great place to work, and I have friends at the main campus. (Beijing No.4 High School International Campus affiliated with Beijing No.4 High School)
Do you like Beijing?
I love the hutongs because you see grandfathers and grandmothers and their grandchildren. The way they are built fosters the community and it reminds me of my hometown in Iowa.
Why did you become a teacher?
Intelligence and critical thinking are so important for a well-functioning society. So when I am teaching, I am also learning and I never want to stop learning. I also want my students to change our global community for the better. I have faith that they will do great things. I was a journalist for the public relations department in a university, and that enhances my experience as a teacher.
Who was your favorite teacher? Why?
I had a French teacher in college; he was young, fashionable, and funny, but most of all, he inspired me to visit Paris and see France. He made the language come alive and made it important to my life. A great teacher brings the subject to life for students.
What is your teaching philosophy?
To understand each student individually, target and eliminate weaknesses and improve his or her strengths.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I love my students: they are funny; they are creative; they make me laugh.
What has been your greatest success as a teacher?
Two of the students I taught when I was in Turkey are my Facebook friends. One of them is a medical doctor and cancer researcher in the Netherlands. The second one is a professor of International Relations in Italy. When my students feel successful, I feel successful.
What is the most challenging aspect of teaching?
Wondering and questioning if we are ready for the upcoming AP exam in next May.
What are your plans for the future?
If I had a crystal ball, I would know the answer.
Give us a broad generalization of what makes Chinese students in your eyes different from American students?
I think Chinese students believe more in hard work, on the other hand, American students believe you are born smart. American students also have a lot more free time than Chinese students do. Ask one of my students what they plan to do on the weekend, and they usually say “Study!” American students often say “Party!”
Harry Liu, (Liu Yinhao), is a junior at the international campus affiliated with Beijing No.4 High School, a public high school in Beijing. He is the community outreach officer for the student’s council, the president of the photography club, the deputy president of the science and philosophy club, and the editor and photographer for his school newspaper. This summer he interned at Citibank, and he is their high school correspondent. Through his blog posts, he hopes to share unique and exciting experiences at Beijing No.4 High School International Campus.
The beijingkids student correspondent program gives high school students with an interest in writing and journalism a resource for guidance, feedback, and real-life training. If you are a student interested in becoming a beijingkids student correspondent, or you know a student who is, please contact School Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos courtesy of Harry Liu