After twelve years of teaching, I have learned a great deal. I am in the process of generating a top-10 list of the most important lessons that I have learned, though it seems to be expanding into a book. But here is one of those universal truths that I have recently become fixated upon that I thought I should share:
So much of what a teacher should be doing, and yet is so often underscored and forgotten completely, is motivating students to succeed.
All else should be secondary.
If a teacher does not connect to his students, establish meaningful relationships with families and find a way to excite that student to learn and achieve, all is lost.
Teachers who have difficulty motivating students are afraid to be honest with students and their parents, ignore the important role that fun and play should have in learning and erect unnecessarily professional barriers between themselves and their students and families.
All of the success that I have experienced in my twelve years of teaching, all of those stories of remarkable student turnarounds and enormous academic gains, have had nothing to do with my skill or expertise as an educator. It had nothing to do with books or technology or differentiated instruction.
It has all come down to motivating my students by any and all means possible. By clawing and scraping and cheering and badgering and pushing and pulling until a student has found the desire to succeed.
When a child wants to learn, the battle has been won.