It Takes a Teacher:
The Impact and Inspiration of Being an Educator

See also: Teaching Skills

What’s the value of an effective teacher?

For those who have been lucky enough to have an incredible pedagogue, the answer is “priceless”. 

Speak to a number of teachers, and they will admit that it’s not the minimal pay, the late-night grading, or the necessary in-service classes that made them want to teach. It’s the students and the connections made.

Being an educator offers intrinsic rewards a teacher can immediately enjoy and provides them with memories to last a lifetime.

What are some of the things that separate an average from an exceptional teacher, and what effect does the latter have on their students?

Preparation and Organization

A great teacher will tell students what is to be expected, what will separate a good from great student, and how to get an associated grade. 

Such awareness takes a good deal of preparation and organization on the teacher’s part.  It takes planning not only lessons, but entire learning units and understanding how to organize, evaluate, and modify these for different learning abilities and subject matter.

As always, a great teacher knows they are a role model for their students.  So, exhibiting great preparation inspires students to do the same in and out of the classroom.  Being prepared for a test and then getting a good grade not only immediately benefits a student but inspires them to do the same when it comes to athletics, relationships, and beyond.

Interaction with Peers and Students

A good teacher is sympathetic toward peers and students, yet a better teacher is empathetic and truly able to place themselves in another’s situation, whether that means identifying students who are having issues at home or a peer who can use advice in addressing unruly students. 

It’s not what a teacher says that sets them apart, but their ability to do good things with the limited time given among students and peers.

In expressing mutual respect and treating all students equally, a great teacher shows students fairness and makes them understand what it means to be a professional.  Of course, teachers host feelings of frustration, anger, and emotional fatigue like all people, but a great teacher’s ability to remain stable and disciplined has an impact on impressionable students.

Extracurricular Duties

Students understand that teachers are compensated for their roles as educators.  However, a teacher who expresses interest in students outside of the classroom is deemed exemplary. 

For example, asking questions about a student’s participation in theatre, a sporting event, or how they spent their weekend helps develop a good rapport.

Students may have a teacher who is excellent in knowing how to teach a subject, but a student will want to learn from an educator who sees them as a person and who cares about their interests in and outside the immediate classroom.

Such a dynamic forms bonds and breaks the adult-student barrier, which could otherwise impede learning.  If a student thinks a teacher is there for a paycheck alone, they may learn, but if they understand that a teacher chose education because they enjoy helping people, the student will want to learn.

Variation of Lessons and Leveraged Media

Educators identify different types of learners.  Some students will learn better from a video while others from a lecture, and others will need to engage in an activity in order for the lesson to stay with them. 

A great teacher varies their lessons as well as the media used to encourage learning.  A great teacher considers the material, the students, and whether it’s most appropriate to use a book, lecture, film, activity, or a combination of sentiments to meet their objective.

A great teacher understands their journey as a learner is never over.

Continued Education

A great teacher remains a student.

Continuing education ensures their methods are up-to-date and that they learn from the best in the field.  Regardless of teaching elementary, middle, or high school-aged children, great teachers advance knowledge throughout the years.  Such respect for their own knowledge and redefining self-discipline inspires students to value learning and teaches them to place an immeasurable value on their own educational trajectory.

A good teacher acquires proper certification and attends mandatory enrichment classes, but an exceptional teacher wants to further their education, getting a Master’s degree, added certifications, and consistently seeks ways to evolve as a pedagogue.

Think of teachers that you had who were truly exceptional.

What attributes did they exhibit that set them apart and make you remember them?

If you’re thinking of becoming a teacher, wouldn’t you want future students to label you as “great”? 

If so, be mindful of what it takes to be more than just a good teacher.

Why You Want to Teach

Having evaluated all of the aspects of the job and what is expected of you as an educator, the fundamental question you need to be able to answer in an interview for a teaching position is “Why do you want to teach?

Many teachers understandably state that they got into the profession primarily because they wanted to be able to make a positive difference and influence the future of our next generation.

Some teachers even consider that they have a strong sense of duty and gratitude towards the educational system for giving them the skills and qualifications they needed to succeed.

Teaching is a profession which is vitally important to our society and, despite the great demands it places on individual teachers at certain times, it is a rewarding job that provides you with the opportunity to really make a difference.

A Final Thought to Consider

Working with students every day will help a teacher of any age to feel connected and being surrounded by such creativity and energy on a daily basis will definitely provide a feeling that every day is different.

You will often find humor too at times, which enhances your enjoyment of what is a great but demanding profession in which to work.

About the Author

Joseph C'deBaca MAEd. is a 20 year classroom educator veteran, and founder of Teacher's Learning Center (TLC). Joseph enjoys sharing his insights online.