It is not an exaggeration to say that a great teacher can change a student’s life. There are an endless amount of stories that attest to the benefits of a strong relationship between an educator and pupil.
As some of the most influential role models for developing students, teachers are responsible for more than just academic enrichment. If you want to be a great educator, you must connect with your pupils and reach them on multiple levels, because the best teachers are committed to their students’ well-being both inside and outside the classroom. By forging strong relationships, educators are able to affect virtually every aspect of their students’ lives, teaching them the important life lessons that will help them succeed beyond term papers and standardized tests.
It is not always easy to change a student’s life, which is why it takes a great teacher to do so. Some just need an extra push like the student whose math grade is just a few points shy from the A that will give them a 4.0 GPA; others may be going through something troubling in their personal lives and need someone to talk to. Whatever the student needs to help them excel, a life-changing teacher will be there for them.
While you will spend your entire career learning the different ways you can change your students’ lives, here are three aspects that are directly affected by great teachers:
A great teacher makes learning fun, as stimulating, engaging lessons are pivotal to a student’s academic success. Some students who are more prone to misbehavior, truancy or disengagement are more dependent on an engaging teacher. Making your classroom an exciting environment for learning will hold the students’ fascination, and students learn best when they are both challenged and interested. It’s part of motivating students, which may not be easy, but which will benefit students immeasurably in the long run.
Have you ever had a teacher who inspired you to work harder or pursue a particular goal? Were you inspired to become an educator by one of your own great teachers?
Inspiring students is integral to ensuring their success and encouraging them to fulfil their potential. Students who are inspired by their teachers can accomplish amazing things, and that motivation almost always stays with them. Inspiration can also take many forms, from helping a pupil through the academic year and their short-term goals, to guiding them towards their future career. Years after graduation, many working professionals will still cite a particular teacher as the one who fostered their love of what they currently do and attribute their accomplishments to that educator.
Teachers can also be a trusted source of advice for students weighing important life decisions. Educators can help their pupils pursue higher education, explore career opportunities and compete in events they might otherwise have not thought themselves able to. Students often look to their teachers as mentors with experience and knowledge, and, as an educator, you will almost definitely be asked for advice at some point during your career.
Did you know that one in four students drops out of school or that every nine seconds, another student drops out? Dropping out is a decision that students won’t likely come to you about, but an adept teacher can notice the indications that a student is struggling and intervene before it’s too late. Aside from educating them on the hard facts about dropping out, teachers can also help assess the problem and figure out an alternative. In such situations, teachers undoubtedly have the ability to change the lives of students.
Teachers as Role Models
A role model is a person who inspires and encourages us to strive for greatness, live to our fullest potential and see the best in ourselves. A role model is someone we admire and someone we aspire to be like. We learn through them, through their commitment to excellence and through their ability to make us realize our own personal growth. We look to them for advice and guidance.
A role model can be anybody: a parent, a sibling, a friend but some of our most influential and life-changing role models are teachers.
My Teacher, My Hero
When you think of the type of teacher you'd like to be, who comes to mind? The math teacher that helped you conquer fractions? The English teacher who wrote great comments on your stories? The teacher that helped you discover a new sport, hobby, talent--or maybe even nudged you down your current career path?
Those are the teachers we're celebrating through our YouTube channel, My Teacher, My Hero. Together, we're paying homage to the teachers that have played such an integral part in shaping our lives, and to their importance in shaping the next generation of educators.
“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” — Marlene Canter, My Teacher My Hero
Teachers follow students through each pivotal stage of development. At six to eight hours a day, five days a week, you as a teacher are poised to become one of the most influential people in your students’ life. After their parents, children will first learn from you, their elementary school teacher. Then, as a middle school teacher, you will guide students through yet another important transition: adolescence. As children become young adults, learning throughout middle school and into high school, you will answer their questions, listen to their problems and teach them about this new phase of their lives. You not only watch your students grow you help them grow.
“We think of teacher-heroes that taught us the academics but we don’t often think of those teachers that taught us life’s lessons.” — Maria Wale, My Teacher My Hero
Much of what students learn from their greatest teachers is not detailed on a syllabus. Teachers who help us grow as people are responsible for imparting some of life’s most important lessons. During their initial school years, students encounter, perhaps for the first time, other children of the same age and begin to form some of their first friendships. As a teacher, you will show your students how to become independent and form their own relationships, you will carefully guide them and intervene when necessary. School is as much a place of social learning as academic learning, and this is true, not only in our early years of education, but all the way through college. Though a teacher’s influence on the social sphere of school lessens as students mature, those early lessons still have an effect on how they will interact with others in the future.
Teachers are founts of experience. They have already been where their students are going, undergone what they will go through and are in a position to pass along lessons, not only regarding subject matter, but lessons on life.
Meet Great Teachers
Teach.com has been speaking with award-winning teachers from across the country to hear their stories and, hopefully, find out a bit about what it is exactly that makes them great. If you are currently a teacher or thinking about becoming a teacher, take a look at some of the Teacher Profiles below to learn a bit more about what can make a teacher great.
Here's how: Take a video of yourself discussing your favorite teacher. You can use the below prompts to get your wheels turning.
1. Choose an example of how your teacher changed your way of thinking or acting.
Did your teacher encourage you to take risks? To overcome self-defeating thoughts or behavior? Did he or she help you speak up more in class, or have more patience with solving problems?
2. Tell us how these changes have influenced your life's direction.
Did they help you uncover a unique talent, or steer you away from a dangerous life path? How did this change your eventual direction in life?
3. Share an interesting story.
Sometimes actions speak louder than words. And your story doesn't have to be serious! A teacher's impact often shines through the most.
And of course, remember to say thank you! Click to watch the rest of the My Teacher, My Hero series on YouTube