In the world of education, teachers are not just professionals within their fields. Instead, they are mentors, leaders, and parents for our future leaders of tomorrow. For many of us, our fondest memories of our primary schoolteachers have been those specific individuals who have given us the confidence to believe in ourselves. During those moments, we experience a sense of excitement. Not just for the idea of discovering your interest, but also for the confidence in venturing outside of our own personal comfort zone. It is those teachers that have led us every step of the way and it will be those teachers who will continue to fight the good fight in creating the future doctors, lawyers, and business leaders each and every day.
With graduation coming up, I thought it would be nice to highlight the characteristics of a truly impactful teacher. As much as I can discuss the importance of their wisdom and knowledge in the various fields of English, writing, mathematics, history, and science, I think the best characteristic is their ability to care.
To start, great teachers know their students. They know their goals, ambitions, fears, problems, and interest. All in all, they know their lives. For many students, the general population comes from all different works of life. Whether it is from a different culture or a different socio-economic background, each of these external factors shape who they are as a people and how they will act as students within the classroom. For some teachers, they tend to overlook these outside influences. But in order to truly show the care and investment within your students, you have to know their lives. Knowing where they come from and who they are will allow you to grow that much needed teacher-student relationship to take you to the next level. This in turn will allow you to handle specific situations in the best possible way if they were to arise in your classroom.
In addition to knowing the students, great and successful teachers have the ability to actively listen to their students. Teachers who actively listen to their students listen not just to what they are saying, but also to what they are thinking. Listening to your student’s conversations will give you a plethora of information. Besides the minuscule information like their favorite music or favorite food, you can inherently understand the goals and aspirations of your students. From there, the spark for success is just waiting. All you have to do is be patient before you ignite that flame.
Now, for any conversation, everyone knows it is not just a one-way street. For teachers to be great educators, they also need to share their own personal selves. Allowing your students to understand your true authentic self will establish that much needed trust within the classroom. Now I am not saying you have to share all of your secrets. Instead, open your world to your students. Share your favorite sports teams and your favorite music. This can possibly help elevate uninterested students in working in your class.
While there are other areas that you can focus on professionally, I would highly advise any educator to self-reflect on their own experiences with their students and the overall education sector as a whole. For many great teachers, self-reflection plays a large role to their success. They evaluate their own personal and professional strengths and weaknesses and identify points in which they can be better. That type of judgment is necessary in bettering and perfecting the trade year after year. In doing so, you are not just showing your attentiveness for the field, but also your care for your students’ growth.