Teaching should be driven by a passion to provide help for students no matter what that calls for. Teachers have a natural impact on a young person’s life. It is our duty to make the most of our time with each student allowing us to maximize the impact we have on their life. Helping students is what teaching is all about. When a person decides they want to become a teacher, this should be the number one reason.
Every student comes with their own unique circumstances and experiences. Each grade level is different. Each school is different. A student in first grade will not have the same needs as a student in ninth grade, but two students in ninth grade won’t likely have the same exact needs either. A major part of a teacher’s job is to recognize individual student needs and to cater to those needs when appropriate.
There will be students that require a lot more attention than others for various reasons. These are the students that we can often have the most impact on, because we have invested so much into them. However, it is important that we have some sort of positive impact on every student in our classes. There are several different ways to impact a student and what helps one may not necessarily help another.
Provide Students with a Solid Education
The backbone of education is to teach our students the fundamental academic skills necessary to succeed in life. This often begins in Prekindergarten and each teacher along the way provides students with knowledge and concepts intended to build upon and extend previously learned concepts. This sounds simple, but teaching is not an exact science. Every student and every class is different.
Effective teachers must continuously adapt to the strengths of each student and class while continuously looking for ways to improve how they teach their curriculum. Every minute a teacher has with a student must count as their overall time they have with any one student is relatively short when you compare it to that child’s entire educational path. The best teachers have a focused plan for preparing their students, adapt when necessary, and take advantage of opportunities to extend learning.
Push Students to Be Successful
Every teacher should have high expectations for their students. The really great teachers are able to effectively shift the burden of those expectations to the students themselves. There are many students who lack the drive and/or the confidence necessary to be successful. Teachers must be innovative motivators capable of getting even the most reluctant learners to be successful. Teachers should always make goal setting a component of their instruction. Encourage ambitious students to set higher goals and encourage students that lack confidence to set smaller obtainable goals that will build a foundation for success.
Provide Students with Character Education
The principles attached to character training used to be taught exclusively at home, but over recent years we have seen a moral decline in the home leading to increased violence and an overall lack of respect at school. This shift has led many schools and teachers to include character education within their curriculum. This education is vitally important to the development of our young people. Too often it is the only training they will receive in this area. Character does matter and the lack of having character has a negative effect on a student’s education. Teachers should lead this cause by example adhering to the same character principles that they work to instill in their students.
Provide Students with Structure
Most young people will respond positively to structure. There are exceptions, but most kids want their teachers to be structured with a given set of rules and expectations. Being structured means that the teacher is organized, seldom gives down time, and generally expects every student to adhere to a given set of expectations. Many young people today have very little structure at home. They are allowed to do what they want when they want. An unstructured classroom is a chaotic classroom and learning is minimal. Providing students with structure is essential to maximize learning, makes them feel safe, and generally makes a teacher’s job easier.
Hold Students Accountable
Students aren’t perfect. They are going to make mistakes. Every student must be held accountable for their actions when they do make mistake. Failing to discipline a student who has made a mistake will not teach them anything and the chances of the student making the same choice again will increase. There are a plethora of actions that warrant a classroom discipline decision. Holding students accountable isn’t always easy. However, it is important to realize that if you don’t hold them accountable you are doing the student themselves, the other students in the class, and yourself a major disservice.
Be There in Times of Crisis
Unfortunately life isn’t always kind. If you teach for any length of time at all you will have students going through personal adversity. As a teacher, the best thing that you can do is to let them know that you are there for them and their family. It is equally important to be sensitive to the situation by providing flexibility with their work, offering to set up counseling services, or generally talking to your students about the situation so that they can be sympathetic when the student returns. If the student is gone for an extended period of time, take the time to check on them either by phone or by visiting them directly.
Go Above and Beyond
A teacher’s job does not end when school is dismissed. There are a lot of things that teachers can do to benefit their students that doesn’t necessarily fall under the scope of their classroom duties. Many teachers stay after school on their own time offering struggling students some extra tutoring. Teachers also know which students families struggle financially and often find ways to provide them with food and clothes. Many teachers show up to support their student’s athletic events even if they are not directly tied to the school. Each of these things are simple, but they are meaningful to the students and their families.