Being a public school teacher is certainly one of the most challenging careers, but it is absolutely the most important profession there is. After all, without teachers, there wouldn’t be any other professions! As a teacher, you create the foundation for your students upon which they will build the rest of their lives. You are not only influencing the future of your own students, but you are affecting the collective future of all of humanity for generations to come.
You may not be able to see the long-term affect that you have on your students, but you are writing on the pages of who they believe they are, what they believe they are capable of, and who they will choose to be and become. This will determine what they choose to contribute to the world, which will have an impact on shaping the world of tomorrow for all of us. We each touch and affect countless others throughout the course of a lifetime. Everything we say, feel and do has a ripple effect that influences the present and the future of the collective consciousness on Earth.
As a teacher, you have the ability to have a profound impact on your students’ lives in the present and far into the future. Think back on the teachers you had in your youth, and think of the ones that had the greatest impact on your life, both positively and negatively. How did they help shape your ideas about yourself and about the world? Did they contribute to your self-esteem, or to your self-doubts? Being a teacher takes great patience, strength, courage, stamina, compassion, intelligence, humor, kindness, caring, heart, generosity, etc.
It often involves a great deal of self-sacrifice as well, because unfortunately, our present society greatly undervalues this most noble of professions. Those who choose a career of being a teacher do so knowing that they will face great challenges with little financial reward. You must therefore find the rewards of this career in other ways, by knowing that you are giving your students the tools with which they can succeed at life. Our present educational system in North America, and in other parts of the world, is antiquated and stale, leaving most students and teachers feeling uninspired.
Memorizing facts for tests is not learning. Knowledge is a living, growing thing, and in order to truly learn, the mind must be engaged with passion and interest. The ideal teaching environment is one in which the students are able to think, ask questions, and explore the relevance that the information has in real life, and the impact it may have on their own lives. Young people must know why it is important for them to know what is being taught to them, otherwise it will simply feel like a waste of time, and they will be bored and disinterested.
In North America, we have developed a terrible apathy toward education, and many students feel that school is not “cool”. In Africa, children are begging to have an opportunity to go to school, because they know that education is the key to the future. Oprah Winfrey recognizes how important education is: she honors teachers everywhere as unsung heroes, and has been funding the building of schools in Africa because she believes that education and knowledge empower people to create a more successful life.
In our present North American school system, being in a classroom can be very tiring and draining for both the teachers and the students. As a teacher, you keep giving energy continually to your students, but if nothing is coming back to you, it can feel demoralizing and even depressing, which can lead to burnout. It is important for you as a teacher to find ways to keep you and your students motivated and inspired. Most people do not realize the full impact that teachers have on students. Teachers have the ability to support a person’s self-esteem, or to destroy it.
Many young people may be experiencing devastating pain at home, either physically, emotionally, mentally or even spiritually, so school may be the only place where they can receive support and encouragement. This is particularly true of “bad” kids, who are often suffering greatly at home, and as a result, they begin to live down to other people’s expectations of them. If they are labeled as “bad”, then they will feel “bad” and will do “bad” things because that is who they have come to believe they are.
As a teacher, you can foster and encourage your students (and yourself) to have a strong desire to succeed in school, and in life. The ideal classroom environment is one that inspires co-operation, rather than competition. In life, as each one wins, we all win, because the joy of one raises the vibration of the collective consciousness for us all. We have a situation in schools today, particularly in public schools, where everyone wants to be the same, and no one wants to stand out. Therefore, we must try to encourage them all to be outstanding! One of the ways you can do this is to encourage your students to be stars.
This can be challenging with older students because they will act like everything is stupid and they don’t care, but they really do care. You can create a board with the name of everyone in your class, including yours, and have gold stars that you can stick on the board next to each person’s name as they accomplish any positive achievement, including teamwork and positive effort. Although you may have to pay for this out of your own pocket, it is very inexpensive and will repay great rewards for all concerned.
Perhaps the students can even give stars to each other, to you, and to themselves for any positive accomplishment. You can give stars out for grades, but also for class participation, for effort, for improvement, for attitude, for citizenship, for extra credit, etc. You could even further motivate the students by having a “play day” or “pizza day” when the class collectively gets a certain number of stars. You don’t have to pay for this yourself, you can have a collection jar where the students can contribute their own money to such a reward celebration.
Ideally, you want to make teaching fun and rewarding for you, and have learning be fun and rewarding for your students, so be as creative as possible. Rewards don’t have to require money, but feeling like a star can create infinite rewards for life. You can encourage your students to make a star chart for themselves at home, or better yet (with their parents’ permission), to put gold stars on their mirror whenever they have a sense of accomplishment or overcoming challenges – that way they can start to see themselves as a star on a daily basis.
I would recommend this for you as well, and for everyone. A positive, inspiring and encouraging environment has infinite positive ripple effects. You can make your classroom into an oasis where I and my students can all feel good about yourselves. This will create positive energy that keeps growing, which will energize you instead of draining you. If you inspire your students, you will feel inspired, and vice versa. Likewise, if you motivate them, you will feel motivated, and vice versa. Encourage your students to work together and to be self-motivated, so that all the energy is not just coming from you.
Foster group work and group discussion, where each person has a sense of making an important contribution to the whole. The more fun and interesting you can make it for you and your students, the more you will all put into it, so you will all get more out of it and want to be there. As a teacher, you are the cornerstone of our society, and you make the greatest contribution there is to changing and affecting our world. I applaud you, and everyone in your profession. May you be inspired to inspire, motivated to motivate, and encouraged to encourage.