Why are teachers so important to us?
A great article on the website “teach.com” describes a teacher as follows: “Teachers do it all…they extend far beyond the classroom…into the lives of their students, their students’ families and their community.”
It is amazing how teaching has changed drastically over the years. Originally students sat in rows silently listening to the wisdom and information the teacher was presenting. We have gradually progressed from very directed instruction to individualized instruction, guidance and learning. Teachers now help students take charge of their own learning, by integrating strategies and methods that promote individuality, creativity and responsiveness. We are no longer the knowledge givers but have become the facilitators that help learners find their way.
I think the statement from this website is an excellent portrayal of what a great teacher is. It certainly takes a very special individual who is willing to give, every day, to assure that the learners they instruct, and assist, can achieve their full potential. It is far from easy, because every student has their own personality, learning abilities and needs. When dealing with a classroom full of students, a teacher has to be able to respond to each learner, in many different situations, with different needs, at the flip of a coin. Great teachers seem to do this with such ease.
As an administrator I have had the opportunity to work with some exceptional and extraordinary educators. I remember one particular instance when I stood outside a teacher’s room listening and watching, as she taught a Geography lesson to 34 grade 8 students, who of course were full of energy, during the last class of the day, on a Friday. They of course did not know I was there observing. This teacher walked through the rows discussing the topic with the students, guiding them to following and interact to her questions and instruction. She gently touched a few on their shoulders, who were having a hard time concentrating, and encouraged those who were having difficulty grasping the content. It was like watching a fine tuned orchestra playing a beautiful melody. At the end of the class, the students left bidding their teacher goodbye, perhaps a little exhausted because they worked hard during the class, but happy. This teacher was able to engage these students during what I am sure was a difficult time of day, with ease. I remember entering her classroom afterwards and she had a smile on her face. When I asked about her class, she said it was a pleasure working with the students. If I remember correctly, this was a group with a number of students with learning and behavioral problems, but watching her, you would never have known. These students certainly sensed that their teacher truly cared about their learning and their needs. She made the experience engaging and enjoyable for them.
It is so important to acknowledge what educators provide for our children. They are their mentors, their confidents, their heroes, their idols, their “go to” person when things are not right. Plus, they teach Math, English, French, Science and more. Students spend more time in school interacting with teachers than in their own homes with their families. Educators affect in one way or another, each child they meet and work with. They prepare them for what they will experience and encounter in the future, with a loving and caring attitude. What a powerful and significant role to play.
This week is teacher appreciation week. It is a time to acknowledge all the wonderful things our teachers do. I know that it is not always easy but when speaking to our teachers at LEARN, all I hear are positive remarks about their students. and the courses and classes they teach. I see in them what I saw in that classroom teacher so many years ago – a passion and love, for teaching and the students they interact with. On behalf of LEARN I would like to thank our teachers, and all teachers, and congratulate them for their continual hard work and perseverance. You make such a difference.