A good teacher changes lives. So does a bad one.
What teachers do you remember most and what was it that had such an impact on you? Ask anyone this question, and you will get an earful. The best teachers are remembered for being challenging, engaging and supportive. For encouraging a kid to think, explore and take a different perspective. The bad ones range from being just dull and disengaged to flat-out mean. They condescend, belittle or ignore. They have lost (if they ever had) any passion.
My 16 year-old son remembers vividly the elementary teacher who made him feel small, who didn’t know what to do with a super active boy, so he was always in trouble. He didn’t learn much that year except how to sit in the hall feeling alone and “bad.” Another one, upon receipt of a project that had taken so much time and effort, could only remark on his use of tape, which was not allowed. “Why can’t you ever follow directions”?
Those good teachers, though. They take those super active kids and have them run around for a few minutes, so that they can leave the fidgets outside. They catch a kid when he does it right. They understand everyone is different, learns uniquely, matures on his own timeline and just might have stuff going on at home that is big and scary. They do their best to make their class a place to explore, where learning is a lifestyle.
The actions of a teacher stay with a person for a lifetime, making teachers among the most influential elements of our society. How is it that their jobs aren’t as revered as those of Fortune 500 CEO’s? Why aren’t we seeking to attract and retain the very best to shape our next generations? How do we let the bad ones get tenure?
Even if you don’t have kids in school, teachers affect your world. Keep an eye on the school board and understand their budgetary needs and guiding principles. If your kid is in school, engage the principal and teachers. Make sure they have the resources they need. Recognize the good, question the bad. Thank them for shepherding your child through this time. And then, encourage them to be mindful of their power.
“With great power comes great responsibility.” — Voltaire.