Caring relationships are vital to student success.
Teachers who create safe and secure environments give students the freedom to take risks and make mistakes. Effective educators discover and build on their students' strengths while giving them tools to grow. When teachers have empathy and compassion, they can listen closely to their students' stories and understand their struggles. Building positive relationships while instilling the value of education within the heart and mind of each student is critical to success - not only in school, but in life as well.
The teacher is the critical factor in the classroom.
The stage for student success is set through a teacher's high expectations, enthusiasm, and positive attitude. Children excel when they are challenged to move outside their comfort zones, to tackle projects first deemed too daunting, and to finally master a difficult concept. There is a quote from Dr. Sylvia Rimm in her book, Why Bright Kids Get Poor Grades, that I think about when I teach: "The surest path to high self-esteem is to be successful at something one perceived would be difficult. Each time we steal a student's struggle, we steal the opportunity for them to build self-confidence. They must do the hard things to feel good about themselves." Educators should impart to students the joy of working hard and share with them the intrinsic feeling of accomplishment that is experienced when a job is completed successfully.
The school climate should be one of kindness and compassion.
Our future will be in excellent hands when students learn to respect and value one another. Students and teachers should work together to seek ways to improve life in their schools, communities, and the world. They can help others with projects, visit nursing homes, send letters to soldiers, put together gift bags for local hospitals, and participate in food or supply drives. Let the students brainstorm philanthropic projects and give them the responsibility to plan and accomplish them. Some of the greatest projects will come directly from our students' ideas.
Passion and commitment are required to be a successful educator.
Teachers should be life-long learners demonstrating to students the value of continuing their education. They must be determined to make an on-going effort to welcome, learn, and implement new ideas. A favorite quote from John Gardner states, "All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants." Passionate teachers make the difference in students' lives by inspiring them to develop an excitement for learning. These educators teach students how to become critical, independent thinkers, and their students often explore ideas long after the lesson is over. Teachers should enjoy the journey and share that joy with their students.
Collaboration ensures that our children will be well prepared to become tomorrow's leaders.
A teacher does not teach in isolation. It takes a group of dedicated people working together to help students achieve their dreams. Teachers, counselors, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, coaches, and others who care about the child can make the difference in a student's life. When students know that others care, they begin to care about others. Students need to have a positive vision for their future and that vision often comes from those who directly influence their lives. One person can make a difference but, when one person teams up with a community, the impact can be so much more effective. Educators are pieces of a puzzle connecting to make a difference - one child at a time.
The views expressed on this site are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Pearson Foundation.
Karen Morman is currently a Literacy Specialist at J.W. Webb Elementary School in McKinney, Texas. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Education and a Master's Degree in School Counseling. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Reading and Literacy Leadership. Karen was selected as the Teacher of the Year for her school, district, region, and state. In 2012 she was also honored as the Texas State Teacher of the Year in a ceremony at the White House.