Why Great Teachers Are Adored By Their Students

It is no coincidence that some teachers are adored by their students and some teachers are not. And while teachers that are adored by their students are not always great, all great teachers are always adored by their students. During my 17 years as a classroom teacher, instructional coach and vice principal I have noticed that are certain things that great teachers do,that whether they realize or not, make them great.

Great Teachers Treat Students Equitably Not Equally

All students are not the same. Great teachers realize this and they make it a point to give each one of their students exactly what they need, when they need it. They create a classroom culture such that each child realizes this and they are okay with it because they know that when the time comes, their needs will be met.

equity

Great Teachers Give Students a Fresh Start Every Single Day

Everybody makes mistakes. Especially children. Great teachers realize this and they allow their students to start over each day. They don’t hold grudges and they don’t treat children based on something they did the day before. The German writer Goethe believed that “the way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.”

forgiveness

Great Teachers Realize It’s About the Person, Not the Product

It is easy to get so caught up in instruction that teachers sometimes fail to notice destruction. Self destruction that is. A great teacher does not place completion of an assignment above the well-being of a student. Their student comes in hungry on test day. They give the test later and feed the child now. A child comes in and is noticeably upset about something unrelated to school. They stop what they were going to teach them and start to help them put their pieces back together. People first, products second.

important things

Great Teachers Make an Effort To Connect With Their Students

Great teachers make the effort to learn about their students and what interests them. They attend their games, recitals, concerts, etc. Because if is matters to their student then it matters to them. It doesn’t matter if they like rap music, understand baseball or enjoy dance. Great teachers pretend that they do and this means the world to their students.

seekfirst

Great Teachers Celebrate Strengths and Help With Weaknesses

Students already know their weaknesses. It is not important to constantly point them out. The great teacher will gently help them with their weaknesses without making them feel less than whole. More importantly, the great teacher will point out students’ strengths in order to build them up. A great teacher will help their students create a highlight reel, not a bloopers page.

jackson browne

Great Teachers Apologize When They’re Wrong

Teaching can be very difficult and very stressful. There will be days when teachers make mistakes. They are human. Just like their students. Great teachers realize this and freely admit when they make mistakes. And they apologize. In front of the class. And they mean it. Their students appreciate this and in turn learn to do the same.

example

Great Teachers Don’t Bring Baggage Into the Classroom, But Instead Help Students Carry Their’s

Many teachers these days are juggling multiple responsibilities. Raising families, taking classes, working a second job, etc. It is very easy for teachers to let stressors outside of school affect their behavior and attitude at school. Great teachers don’t do this. Period! On the other hand, they realize that their students bring much baggage to school that is oftentimes way to heavy for them. So they help them carry theirs’, instead of unloading their own.

 

baggage

* In rereading my post I have realized that a couple of my reasons are simply regurgitations of Todd Whitaker’s thoughts and ideas. This was not deliberate, I think I simply have internalized so much of his thinking that it has become a part of my own. His writing, thinking and speaking have had such a profound impact on me that I simply wanted to give credit where it was due. Thank you Todd!

 

8 thoughts on “Why Great Teachers Are Adored By Their Students

  1. Sometimes, I think that bringing my “baggage” into the classroom can be a helpful thing. 10 years ago, when my dad died at the end of the 2nd week of September, and I was at a new school, I let the kids know why I was leaving for a week. It made a difference, as we built our classroom community. As a young mom, I would let my students know that my patience might be a tiny bit thin on a day after a particularly sleepless night. Sharing those things helped let the kids know that they could share theirs if they needed to. And if I’m having a rough day, and my students can tell, sometimes knowing why is a helpful thing.

    • I agree. I think as long as “the baggage” is not used as an excuse for a terrible attitude or behavior, then sharing what is going on in the teacher’s life can teach the students that even on a bad day you can still go to work or school and get in a good day’s work.

  2. Thank you, Lisa- I was just feeling guilty about the times I apologized for my general out-of-it-ness after sleepless nights with my toddler or having to leave to pick up my sick child- I always tried to reassure myself that these things showed the students that I also had responsibilities as a parent, and I am glad to know that I’m not alone in thinking that it’s okay for them to see that we are human in this aspect as well!

  3. You’ve just nailed it so powerfully. I will be sharing this around widely. I am passionate about every single item you have shared here, and know full well that while I embrace every point, I must keep practicing them. This kind of teacher makes a lasting difference. Thank you.

  4. That’s part of how we connect with students, I think, Lisa – trusting them enough to share our own humanity. We try not to let things in our personal lives spill over, of course, but sometimes they will, and acknowledging that lets kids see that it’s okay, just as acknowledging our other errors frees them from fear of their own and lets us move on as a learning community.

    • This is so true, Barbara. I think sometimes a more important lesson for students to learn is that their teachers, parents or those in authority can make mistakes, and being able to acknowledge that, apologize with grace and ask for forgiveness is much more important than trying to appear “right”.

  5. Reblogged this on The PiEd "PYP"er and commented:
    Just today I was having a conversation with a colleague about the importance of relationships with students. Then I came across this post via twitter. It’s like Jon was a part of our conversation. Since I couldn’t say it better myself, I share his post and whole-heartedly say, “here, here!” Thank you to my colleague Carol for the very reflective conversation, and to Jon for unknowingly being the fly on the wall.

  6. Well said !! Beautifully written. It’s very important for teachers to realize and understand that each child under our care is different and unique. We need to treat them right and give them an experience of a lifetime. Teach them to love life n face it with all it’s ups and downs. Make them strong individuals and good people.

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