“When I was in second grade I had a kidney disease, and she came to my home every day and home schooled me.” -- Eleanor Powers
You may decide to become a teacher because you care about education and the students you’ll be working with. You know the lasting impact a great teacher can have on a student --- perhaps having even experienced it yourself --- and you want to make a positive impact on someone else. You want to be a role model. To commit yourself to teaching means you care about education, but once you actually become a teacher, that vague concept becomes more defined: It becomes real, specific and tangible. Once you become a teacher, you care, not just about education, but about your students’ education.
Great teachers care about their students. They want them to succeed and are committed to helping them achieve their goals. Moreover, teachers care about their students’ happiness, well-being and life beyond the classroom.
“She was clearly interested in every child. She visited our homes, met our parents, and assisted us in our homework and studies.”- Daniel K Inouye
Investing yourself in your students creates a positive atmosphere in the classroom that enhances your relationship with students and makes them feel important. A student is far more responsive to a teacher who cares, and is therefore more likely to learn and engage. Connecting with your students establishes trust, which is important to the students’ learning because it makes them comfortable enough to participate, ask for help when needed, and pay closer attention to advice and encouragement. Also, students feel better about themselves if they feel that a teacher has taken a genuine interest in them; they are motivated, and stronger self-assurance can make it easier for the student to challenge themselves academically. Especially with younger students, away from their parents and overwhelmed by the commotion of the classroom, a caring teacher is comforting and helps make the transition easier.
“Every student would get a birthday card for their birthday...that small gesture meant so much to us.” -- Valerie Penales
A great teacher does not make it a secret that they care. Go the extra mile. Motivating students by encouraging them, rewarding them and getting them involved shows your students that their teacher is vested in their education. Do the best job you can to teach your students and they will notice. Meet with parents during conferences and school functions. Send notes home about student performance. Ask about how things are outside the classroom. Commemorate their birthdays in a small, special way. Make a student feel as if their life --- and not just their homework, grades and attendance --- is of interest to you.
“They [teachers] make you feel that you were so important in their lives --- it makes everything worthwhile.” -- Mr. Jacobowitz
In the New York Times article, “On Facebook, Telling Teachers How Much They Mean,” Jaqueline Ancess, a researcher at Columbia University’s Teachers College, says “the most powerful factor in transforming students is a relationship with a caring teacher who a kid feels particularly connected to.” It is the teachers who make such an impact that students seek out many years later, and reconnecting with your students can be a highly rewarding experience. Not only does it give you the chance to see where your students ended up, it also gives you the chance to hear their gratitude and to truly know the kind of impact you had on them.
Whether it’s via Facebook, emails or phone calls, students are looking to reconnect with the teachers who show that they care, because it’s these teachers who are likely to make the longest lasting impression and have the most positive impact on their students.