As if passing on knowledge and sharing wisdom was innate, I was born with the educator gene. I come from a long line of teachers. My grandpa coached at the college level and my grandma taught high school English. My mom helped children get off to a good start as a kindergarten teacher and my dad guided them through the perils of adolescence in secondary school. My sisters taught in the Midwest, my sisters-in-law teach in France, and I am proud to say that my son enters the ranks in the Minnesota school system.
As teachers navigate the electronic age, we must adapt new tricks to capture students’ interest and hold their short attention spans. We rewrite curriculum, update files, correlate data, document schemes, track outcomes, learn how to differentiate and better motivate, following the latest educational theories, yet the essence of teaching never changes. If the teacher can’t connect, kids tune out.
The impact of good teaching is life long. Everyone remembers that favorite teacher. My mom recently received 80th birthday cards from former kinder and my dad still hears from old athletes that he coached. After leading the special education department at Yorkville High School my sister, Sue, retired last June.
“Over the years, people have asked me what advice I would share with teachers entering the profession,” Sue said. “When I reflect back on my 35 years in education, these are the “lessons” that have served me best.”
We’re all in this together– No matter what job you do at your school, your contributions are important. It takes all of us working together, supporting one another, to help our students have the best possible educational experience and reach their full potential.
Pay it forward– Every single day we can touch a life and make a difference. And most of the time, we don’t even know when we do it. But that individual we influence will go on and maybe even years down the road pay it forward. That is the beauty of it!
It’s all about the relationships– Yeah, the subjects are important and the learning is essential, but when it comes down to it, I have found that the key to being a successful teacher is really all about the relationships that are nurtured.
Kindness matters– I have never regretted treating someone with kindness. Like the lyrics to the song Nothing More by “The Alternate Routes “says “It is how we treat each other when the day is done. We are how we treat each other and nothing more.”
So as we say every September in my neck of the woods (France and the French speaking part of Switzerland.)
Teachers remember this crucial caveat.
Connection is the key to unlock minds; kindness is the ticket to open hearts.