Mr. Forssman meets the gold standard of teaching

A room with walls covered in paper may not seem very exciting to many people, but to John Forssman and his students they are a thing of beauty. These pieces of paper are not just blank sheets, they have quotes written by Ames High students. For 38 years, Forssman has brought the quotes to life while teaching English at Ames High School and he is deeply loved by many. If you ask any student that has had him as a teacher, they will tell you he is one of the more exciting teachers they have ever had. Forssman teaches American Literature, English 10 Family and English 10 Teen, and he is exceptional in each class. “The best part of teaching is learning how to teach from students,” Forssman said. For those of you who don’t know, Forssman is retiring at the end of the semester after 43 years of teaching. He spent his first five years at East Waterloo and has been at Ames High ever since. “One of the things I love most about Ames High is being able to be a student again,” Forssman said. Golden Ideas are what Forssman likes to call the quotes and he has different levels for the quality of each quote. The first level of a golden idea is a gold highlighted sentence. The second level is a highlight and a single star next to the quote. A double star and a highlight is the third level. This is the level where the quote was an above average statement. And the final level is the rare triple star. A triple star is for an exceptional quote that is one of a kind. Forssman has only given a few of these throughout the years, less then 10 to be exact, that is how great the quote has to be. “Any good idea is on its way to a triple star,” he said. If you are wondering why Forssman is obsessed with putting quotes on the wall, you must understand, these are not ordinary quotes. They are reflections on poems, novels and other things done in the English classes. It takes a lot of concentration to get more than just a highlight. You have to dig deep within yourself to come up with something special. “Once an idea is born it continues to grow through expression.” For many of you right now, you may be thinking, “Why should we care about these quotes?” You should care because the quotes help the student appreciate literature more and force the student to actually read the material they are assigned. Forssman also has some other ideas that help the student become one with the literature. One of his main topics is clues. Clues help you understand what has happened and what will happen in the story. And if you ask Forssman what the master clue of a story is, he will tell you it is the title. One of the most exciting parts of Forssman’s classes is the King Arthur Roundtable discussions. The King Arthur Roundtable is where deep clue conversations are held when a book is finished. A clue conversation is a discussion of four to five people sitting around a table talking about a certain topic from a book. Many of the double stars on the wall have been created at the King Arthur Roundtable. If you’re lucky enough to currently be in one of Mr. Forssman’s classes, make it your goal to get on the wall of quotes and let yourself shine at the King Arthur Roundtable. It’s your last chance.