Think of your favorite teacher, counselor, or advisor.
What did she/he do to make a difference?
This blog post will be a repeat message for some who follow me on Facebook. It warrants repetition. So thanks for the indulgence
I just finished my 32nd year of classroom teaching. As I travel working with teachers around the nation, more and more I am asked to speak/facilitate about the non-cognitive/non-academic factors for student success. Academics is obviously important, but so much more goes into “building” and nurturing the total student. And when these factors receive attention, they make a difference in the lives of the people in our classrooms.
Quick shout out and suggestion: Check out Today I Made a Difference: A Collection of Inspirational Stories from America’s Top Educators (Joseph W. Underwood, editor. Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2009). Uplifting stories of what the good ones do day after day.
Last week I posted a simple question on my Facebook page:
“Think of your favorite teacher, counselor, or advisor. What did she/he do to make a difference?”
People responded with vivid memories of a teacher or two in their respective lives who made a difference to them. Their explanations of what a teacher did to make a difference went directly to the heart of effective teaching (IMHO)…and here (in a nutshell) is what they remember the “good ones/effective ones/difference-making ones” doing:
- set high expectations
- had confidence in them
- respected them and their space
- were interesting
- valued, listened to and respected then
- built a relationship with them
- had passion
- gave you a “gift” (like in the gift of love of music)
- engaged and interacted with them
- had a sense of humor
- were real people
- were involved in their school community and
- made them think.
And more memories were shared.
So much is written (and ranted) about assessment (as in state-wide standardized tests)…and so many times in our media we find our teachers (in particular K-12) beaten up over test scores. If the so-called establishment leaders would help to assess teachers on the skills and relationships listed above maybe there would be a better gauge for what our teachers really do.
Video recommendation of the week:
Enjoy a song from my first CD. Turn up your speakers and sing along!
Yeah, I know these are so-called “soft skills.” But, you know, the more I read about successful businesses and leaders, the more I hear about the value of these soft skills. Obviously, we better know how to read, write, add/subtract and the like.
But I can tell you, the teachers I remember kicked me in the butt–and hugged me at once. I can’t say I remember many of the “facts” they taught me–but I do remember the building blocks of life they helped to put in place. They helped build and buttress my core value structure.
If only we could “measure” caring, charisma, passion, encouragement, and respect—and more “soft-skills.”
So, your homework for today comes in two parts:
- Think of the teacher that made a difference in your life. What did he or she do? My guess it went beyond preparing you for a test of facts that you soon forgot.
- If you have not done so recently, reach out to those teachers who made a difference (whether it was last year or decades ago) and thank them. They would love it.
Go forth and advocate for the teachers of your community. And give thanks for those who made a difference for you.
Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.
Information on my newest book, Choices for College Success (3rd ed.), can be found at Pearson Education.
(c) 2014. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.