In honor of next Tuesday (May 2, 2017) being National Teachers Day, here is an open letter to teachers.
You are so important, much more important than you or anyone else gives you credit for. You put in so much work in and out of the classroom. You are the ones who mold the minds of upcoming generations.
We’ve all had teachers we hated, maybe because we didn’t like the subject they taught or because the class itself was boring. On the other hand, (I hope) we’ve all had those teachers that we absolutely loved. As someone who loves learning, I had more of the latter.
Now that I’ve been out of school for a few years, I’ve realized the impact that so many of my teachers had on my life, good, bad, and everything else in between. I’ve learned some of my most valuable life lessons and work habits from them.
Over the years, I’ve picked up on a few things that makes someone a great teacher.
If you aren’t excited about what you’re teaching, your students won’t be excited, either. Your students’ mood will mirror yours.
If you’re wrong, admit you’re wrong.
You have authority over your students, but remember that no one is perfect. You, just as everyone else, will make mistakes. When you do, don’t be afraid to acknowledge them. Teach your students the value of humility.
Make yourself available.
There are many students, like myself, who are afraid to ask questions in front of the class because of what others might think. Let your students know that they can always ask questions, even if it means going to you on their own time.
Stop overworking yourself and your students.
If you’re busy grading assignments, they’re busy doing those assignments. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to give them work, but you can cut them some slack, especially when you know they have a lot going on in other classes.
Listen, then speak.
One of the worst things I had a teacher do was cut me off each time I tried to talk to them, even when all I wanted was to was to ask a question. Listen to what your students are saying, especially when they’re asking questions or seeking help, and give them the best advice you can. You may not think it’s much, but it could mean the world to your students.
Give your students grace.
Some things will click instantly while others may take a few tries for them to understand. I know that you have to keep up with your lesson plans, but try your best not to rush your students when they’re learning something new.
Don’t forget to learn, too!
While your students are learning, take the chance and learn, too. You’d be surprised at what you can learn from them. Whether it’s about the way you teach, the way they learn, or even if it’s testing your patience, they can teach you, too.
To all the teachers out there, you are amazing. You may not hear it enough, but I, along with so many other people are so grateful for all that you do.
Happy National Teachers Day!