Not long ago I was with a colleague and reflected on why I became an educator. Like so many people, my response began with, “When I was in school, there was a teacher . . . “ In my case, it was at least four teachers (a band director, two English teachers, and a Theater teacher) who positively influenced me with their attentiveness to my skills, abilities, learning needs, and encouraged me to share myself with others.
You may have similar stories. Authors Doug Fisher and Nancy Frey allude to similar stories in their article There Was This Teacher . . . In the article, Fisher and Frey share the characteristics of caring that are found in many positive teacher-student relationships (Fisher, D. & Frey, N. (2019) There Was This Teacher. Educational Leadership, 76(8), 82-83.):
- Relatedness – Teachers who take an interest in students as people who have unique interests and abilities are perceived as caring.
- Structure – Teachers who establish high expectations for achievement and behavior that are applied evenly over the student population are perceived as caring.
- Autonomy – Teachers who create opportunities for student voice and choice are perceived as caring.
- Optimism – Teachers who are positive and express positive belief in their students are perceived as caring.
- Emotional support – Teachers who acknowledge student feelings and help students navigate their varied emotional states are perceived as caring.
Over the course of my adult life, I’ve taken several opportunities to reach out to those teachers who made such a positive impact on me. Think about your own situation and think about those who encouraged and cared for you. If you are able, take time to reach out and share how much people meant to you. You and they will be glad you did!