Teacher Student Connections

Taylor Mali, a well-known slam poet and teacher, does a monologue that discusses, "What Teachers Make."  In it, he shares a story of how someone asked him, rather condescendingly, what he makes as a teacher.  The video is a must see for anyone who has been a teacher, is a teacher or is thinking about becoming a teacher.

Making a difference takes work, something teachers do not get credit for doing, because most people unacquainted with education think anyone can stand up before a group of people and teach.  Truth is, teachers work well-over the time they are paid for teaching.  Teachers research, they prepare lesson plans, we correct papers, they attend seminars, conferences, workshops and other gatherings of our peers to learn, inspire and share.  

Realistically, not all teachers are perfect, but neither are all doctors, lawyers, mechanics, engineers, clerks, and so forth.  However, most teachers give their students 99.9% of themselves or more.  What does this mean?  It means that when a student doesn't understand how to do something, the teacher explains it over and over again until they do understand.  It means that rather than listen to what others say about their students, they enter a new year of school expecting the very best from everyone.  Yes, teachers often are disappointed, but there in lies the gist of this blog post.

As a teacher, I also strive to give all my students my very best.  I worry about the person who just doesn't get it.  Why?  Because I was that student many years ago, and but for the teachers who saw my potential, I could have been statistically one of those of kids that don't make it.  Therefore, I am driven to give back what I received.  This is my way of honoring my teachers, those who blessed my life by holding high the Light of Education so that I could see the path ahead, learning to believe in myself and my abilities.

You see, I took responsibility for my learning.  This is the other half of the teacher/student equation.  

Students must take responsibility for their learning.  They must respect themselves and others.  They must tolerate the imperfections of themselves and others. They must empathize, have compassion for themselves and others.  Without these things, learning doesn't take place.  

Copping an attitude, blaming parents, blaming teachers, zoning out are all signs of irresponsibility on the part of the student.  Yes, teachers fail to teach, but students also fail to learn.  It is a two-way street.  

Teachers cannot teach when a mind is shut down.  Teachers cannot teach when a person has given up on themselves and those around them.

Teachers make a difference in the lives of their students, just as students make a difference in the lives of their teachers.

What kind of difference do you make?


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Karyn Climans said…
Teachers can be one of the most influential people in a young person's life. They work incredibly hard yet often do not get the credit they deserve.
One of the things I've observed is that you can't teach someone how to teach. They either have the innate ability or they don't. Teaching is a rare gift that should be given more recognition in our society.
Thanks for your kind words, Karyn. Teaching is gift, both for the student and the teacher. Perhaps the day will arrive when all society realizes the value of teachers.

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