Lets start by saying that if you are reading this, you should thank a teacher! Without them, you would not have the ability to even know what this topic is all about. They told you, role modeled, explained, answered questions, and did it all over again until you were able to put together your abc’s into usable forms which created the communication you are now partaking in with such fluency. May 7 through May 11 marks Teacher Appreciation Week so I thought it would be good to take the time write about what we should appreciate about teachers.
One of the best parts of working for The Mandt System is the countless number of professional educators we get to meet. They remind me of the wonderful people who have shaped and molded me along this path of life long learning. They possess characteristics that I have attempted to emulate and pass on to others. The key to understanding what makes a teacher great is the relationship characteristics. All of our most memorable and treasured teachers built a trusting, respectful, and safe relationship with us. They seen us as individuals and pulled those parts out of us that we didn’t even see in ourselves.
Did the teachers who helped us the most really know their subjects? I assume they did but most often that is not what we most remember. What we remember is the way they made us feel. I have asked classrooms full of teachers themselves, “What do you remember most about your all time favorite teachers?” No one ever responded back with “They sure knew Math!” or “They knew science like nobody else!” Without fail, the number one response has been some characteristic that was relationship in nature. Here are some of the items I appreciated most about my Mt. Rushmore of favorite teachers:
Without fail my all time favorite teachers made time for me. I appreciated the fact that they never made me feel like I was using up too much of their time. Even in cases when they could not currently give me the time needed to answer a question or discuss a topic, they would schedule a future time to make sure questions were answered and topics fully understood. Time is a commodity that teachers fully utilizes and freely give.
I appreciate that my most influential teachers were also those who were not the easiest. They did not except first drafts as finals and they would not let me skate by on natural talent. The teachers I appreciate the most today were the ones who set a high bar and did not let me make excuses to get it lowered. They gave help, time, energy, and never stopped encouraging me, but they never lowered the expectations.
Effective Classroom Management
One of the things I truly appreciate about my best teachers was their ability to manage a classroom full of people and make it look effortless. Today, I use those lessons I learned maybe more than any others. As a professional instructor myself, I truly appreciated my teachers abilities to have multiple things going on in a room at once and never loose sight of each person as an individual. The late education guru Madeline Hunter compared teaching to surgery, “where you think fast on your feet and do the best you can with the information you have. You must be very skilled, very knowledgeable, and exquisitely well trained, because neither the teacher nor the surgeon can say, ‘Everybody sit still until I figure out what in the heck we’re gonna do next’” (Goldberg, 1990, p. 43).
Positive Peer Relationships
Not only did most of the teachers I have build healthy relationships with me but they also role-modeled healthy relationships with their peers. I have no recollection at any point of any teachers I ever had saying anything bad about another one of their peers. Teachers were my strongest role models from a very early age of the Golden Rule of doing unto others, as you would have them do unto you. I needed these role models as at times my parents, because of substance abuse issues at the time, lacked providing them for me.
I fondly look back and appreciate the vast majority of teaches I have had in my life. Today, as a father I appreciate the teachers my children have had and continue to have in their lives. Whether it has been the teachers in my oldest son’s advanced math and science classes or my second son’s early special education teachers, they have been amazing. They have high expectations, give freely of their time, effectively manage classrooms, and provide a strong role model of healthy relationships. Ultimately, I appreciate the fact that I feel safe leaving my children in their most capable hands. So, THANK YOU to all the teachers out their making children and parents feel safe!!!
Director of Operational Sustainability