Being a teacher is a powerful force, it can shake the surface of a young soul like an earthquake, and cause a ripple effect that can last a lifetime. It is the”why” for many of us who enter the profession and the essence of being a teacher. We want to make a difference and have an impact on another person’s life. What we say and what we do, not only impacts the lives of students in our class, but also the lives of the people whom our students come into contact. We are the ripple effect.
So where is the disconnect?
Why in the year 2016 have we come so far from peace, prosperity, hope, and change. What have we forgotten in the classroom to foster these things. A country divided, and filled with violence, from school shootings to suicide bombers that have become the norm. A drug epidemic that causes more deaths, than guns and car accidents. and obesity rates that continue to rise. Where have we gone wrong? What have we forgotten. Why have we become so numb and disconnected from ourselves and each other.
Growing up I was always connected to the saying “the eyes are the windows of the soul” the idea that we are all connected and this connection is evident when we look into another person’s eyes.
As a teacher, we call “withitness” the ability to be aware of what is going on in the classroom. But I argue that withitness lacks the human awareness and connection we all need in our lives, the window to the soul doesn’t lie with the teacher who has eyes in the back of their head, but one who makes time for every student. A teacher can have “withitness” and have a well run classroom where students work independently without any disruptions, but withitness won’t tell the teacher if a student is suicidal, abusing drugs or engaged is reckless behavior.
We are the ripple effect. We can make a difference. A personal motto can help you in your profession, define who you are and what you stand for as a teacher. For me as a teacher, I was always connected to the saying “give students the most precious gift your time”. Time tells your students that you care. It can be the change agent that saves a child’s life and makes a ripple effect that last a lifetime.
As a teacher educator, I want to be the ripple effect that impacts future teachers who enter the profession, with hope, empathy, and passion for what they do. I also want them to know that students will know that you care for them when you take the time to listen to them. Here are a few ways you can make time to show you care:
- Use journals to foster creativity and create a dialogue between you and your students,
- Arrive early to class and always great them at the door
- Hold weekly teacher-student conferences
- Invite groups of students to your class during recess or break for snacks
- Stay after class to make yourself available
- Create a suggestion box and survey students on their attitudes and beliefs about your class
- Personalize content as much as possible with stories, examples and scenarios
- Answer students questions completely and always ask if they have some.
- Give students feedback that is personalized and specific
- Ask students for their input, experience and beliefs
How will you make a ripple effect in your teaching practice?
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