The Impact of a Teacher
Friday Focus! September 10 “Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice
us, hovering, averting their eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but
what we do for them is never wasted.” Garrison Keillor After teaching first grade for four years, I decided to accept a position teaching eighth grade language arts. At first, I mistakenly thought that my eighth grade students did not want to please me as much as my first graders did. I was appalled by their apparent insouciance in terms of my regard for them. Certainly, I surmised, my first graders needed me much more than these young adolescents. Folks, as you already know, nothing could have been further from the truth. The more time I spent with my middle grade students, the more obvious it became that these young adults craved my attention, my guidance, and my approval perhaps even more than my first graders. Our students at OMS feel the same about you. They need you. They rely on you for instruction, compassion, and consistency. Although it may not always be readily apparent, your students like it when you take control. Your students know that good teachers control their classrooms, and they understand and appreciate the boundaries you set. Middle school students thrive in an atmosphere where the teacher stresses self-discipline and communicates with parents regarding progress in this critical area. They respect teachers who discipline students in a firm yet respectful manner that does not sacrifice a student’s dignity. Effective teachers establish a set of clear, though limited, expectations with consequences that are consistently and fairly meted out. Teachers who are well organized tend to have the most disciplined classes. The structure of the classroom prevents a lot of off-task behavior, and students know what to expect from day to day. Being fair and consistent requires courage on the part of teachers, but students will admire those teachers who stand up for what is right and speak out when they observe unfairness. The curriculum you must cover in your various subject areas is vast and even daunting. However, the values you teach your students may be even more important. Students expect you to have beliefs and opinions not only about your subject matter but also about what is right and what is
however, will last a lifetime! Thanks for expertly imparting unto our students what I consider to be an exceptional and comprehensive curriculum. Thank you also for teaching them relevant lessons about life. You are their role model; you may doubt this at times, but even during these moments of doubt, remember this truth. Our kids are watching us and learning from us within the walls of our classrooms and beyond. Therefore, be firm, be fair, be consistent, and use good judgment. Teach your students what you know, but also who you are. Everywhere I go, I find myself extolling the many virtues of the Otwell Middle School teaching force; thank you all for making this such an easy and sincere act in which to engage!