What Makes a Teacher Great?
It will come as no great surprise to my blog followers that I happen to be a huge supporter of teachers. I have written a number of articles which explain how and why I feel this way. The aforementioned articles outline the multitude of tasks that teachers do every single day and how well they accomplish them in what are often very trying conditions. As a principal I see my teachers perform their duties each day to the absolute best of their ability. Without a doubt, I admire and support teachers. However, if you dig a little deeper into my previous articles you will see a theme which has developed. In truth, I believe it is the many acts that teachers perform which “fly under the radar” which truly reveal their character. It is the various things which happen behind the scenes which very few people actually know about which I respect most of all. To illustrate how strongly I feel about this point I will go back 35 years in time and give a brief account of a teacher who essentially changed my life.
When I was growing up I was an extremely anxious child. Every single day that I had to go to school I would break out into a cold sweat and become physically ill. This began as early as kindergarten and was still happening by the time I reached grade 8. I also had a fair number of personal and family issues occurring such as divorce and poverty which greatly excacerbated the situation. Add the fact that I was an anxious, disheveled and sick child, who was frequently in the same clothes day after day, and I soon became the target of merciless bullying. Never being able to afford to live in one place too long we moved from school to school making the ability to form any type of connections with individuals beyond difficult. Essentially that was the scene 35 years ago when I was in grade 8. I was a child at risk whose only real goal was to get out of school and get far away from it all.
Many teachers have this uncanny ability to recognize strength and potential in their students. Not only do they recognize it, but they do their utmost to encourage and nurture it. This is exactly what Mr. Moffat did for me. As my marks were quite low, he spent countless hours at lunch and on his breaks working with me and helping in my various subjects. He encouraged me to join clubs and teams at school and helped to actually facilitate the process. He connected with my Mother and outside support agencies to ensure I received what I needed. He helped me to develop my self-esteem and a self-worth I did not even know existed. My marks began to steadily improve and my newfound faith and confidence in myself no longer made me an attractive target for bullying.
Fast forward now 35 years in time and that sick, anxious child is now the principal of his own school with a unique ability and mission to help children in similar life circumstances. You see… Mr. Moffat did not only help me…he has touched every child I interact with and assist every single day. His reach is vast and ongoing. Don’t ever underestimate the power of a teacher, and always remember that many of the greatest things they do will so often go unnoticed by many.
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