One of the best things about being an educator is making a difference in my students’ lives. Every educator goes into the field for some reason, but most of us just want to make a difference. Whether you’re a preschool teacher or a college professor, these are a few ways teachers can make a difference in their students’ education and lives.
Telling students to see a tutor is not successful in many cases. Their parents may not be able to afford a private tutor, and free tutoring services are not available everywhere. Rather than relying on someone else to tutor your students, offer to tutor the students who really need it. You can speak with the principal and see if there can be an after-school tutoring session where kids who need a little extra help can get it. You may also want to enlist your peers to help, especially if you are teaching the same subjects. Small group sessions can allow for more one-on-one time, as well as a more inclusive environment, helping students feel comfortable and open to learning.
Particularly for teens and young adults, having authority figures who understand their emotions is crucial for success in school. If you notice a student is struggling when they normally excel, or if you witness troubling behavior, reach out to the student and see if there is anything you can do. Make sure to report any interaction to your supervisor, as a situation may escalate beyond your control, and having a record will help moving forward. If you think the student will not open up to you, refer them to a counselor and, if possible, offer to introduce them. Students will not be able to learn unless they feel safe and secure, and that includes emotionally.
It’s an unfortunately part of the job, but many teachers all over the country come in contact with signs of abuse at some point. While physical signs are often easy to detect, keep an eye out for unusual behavior from your students. For elementary and middle school teachers, watch for detached children. Likewise, overly-attached children should be watched carefully. Teens in high school may be abused at home or in a relationship, and college-aged students are more likely to be involved in domestic abuse as well. If you notice something, you must say something (it’s the law), but make sure to stay alert to behavior that could tip you off to abuse. Helping someone get out of an abusive situation is one of the best things you can do for them.
Being a teacher is more than spouting off facts to a class. Being a teacher means looking out for the best interests of your students, and that often means going above and beyond your daily duties. Rather than being a teacher who only teacher, be a teacher who makes a difference in your students’ lives.