How we cite our quotes:
"Anything you think is important enough to write down. And it isn't a reference theme; I want your own ideas and your own experiences." (12.10)
Ponyboy's teacher does what the best teachers do – he takes Pony's position into account, and personalizes the assignment and instructions with Pony's maximum benefit in mind.
So I started writing names across the paper. Darrel Shaynne Curtis, Jr. Soda Patrick Curtis. Ponyboy Michael Curtis. Then I drew horses all over it. That was going to get a good grade like all git-out. (12.25)
Pony doesn't know it yet, but he's pre-writing – warming up for the serious business. Drawing horses and writing names might seem like a waste of time, but that's probably helping Pony collect his organize his thoughts, and find out where to start.
And I decided I could tell people, beginning with my English teacher. (12.71)
By the end of the novel, Pony realizes the he can be an educator too. He can take the things he's learned and share them with others, in the hopes of making the world a better place.