The other day, I was talking with some friends about our favorite teachers of all time. Some had their favorite teachers in elementary school, others in high school. However, one thing seemed to be similar in every case: these teachers that ended up being the “favorites” were passionate and genuinely had an impact on us not only as students but individuals. They helped shape us into the people we are today and taught us some valuable skills not only academically but for life as well.
And then there are really bad teachers. I remember clearly a teacher I had in elementary school. She just didn’t get me nor made an effort to. She wasn’t necessarily a bad teacher, we just didn’t click. She actually had my parents take me to a psychologist, who, upon meeting me, informed my parents that there was nothing wrong with their daughter, I was just more mature than most kids my age. (Shocker, right?) Anyways, that year was miserable. I felt like there was something wrong with me. Someone I had to see and obey almost every day didn’t believe in me, and that takes more of a toll on a kid than you would think.
As I continue onto higher education, I am beginning to realize more and more the impact teachers have on their students. The best teachers believe in their students and encourage them to reach their potential, even if that potential is outside the curriculum. They are passionate about their job and will do anything to help students. They help us become individuals instead of just one of the pack. They make us feel important. It doesn’t matter what age the students are. You can be in Pre-K or a senior in high school, but if your teacher doesn’t believe in you, what’s the point in trying? Teachers are supposed to be the ones encouraging you, not tearing you down. Now, I don’t necessarily think bad grades tear us down. I think that failing is essential to learning. Great teachers will fail you because they know you can do better. And they want you to do better. They want you to keep going instead of simply meeting the requirement. They don’t want you to stop at the finish line, they want you to run until your legs give out, because then you know you have reached your absolute potential.
I really don’t think people understand the effect that teachers have on their students. I guess I’ve never been a teacher, but I don’t really think even those incredible, best-of-all-time teachers understand. Not only is it an incredibly selfless occupation, but they touch so many lives whether they intend to or not. One teacher can make a huge impact on a student, positive or negative. When you have just one teacher that believes in you, you can change the world.
Anyone with the right credentials can become a teacher, but not just anyone can become an incredible one. They must embody these characteristics. They must truly have a passion for children and a desire to see them succeed. I want to thank all of the amazing teachers that have encouraged me to reach my potential and take risks over the last 12 years. Thank you for encouraging me and believing in me. I promise you that if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today.