The Smoke Signal

Teachers Change Lives

Deven Stokes, Editor, Journalist

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From the past to the present, learning has never changed. Education has been the center of our lives since the day we were born. At times it seems that the whole purpose of our lives is to go to school everyday and to get a steady job until the day we retire.

It is given that in life the process of learning never stops. Education is fundamental for our growth to become the best that we possibly can be. Even Albert Einstein said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

As a high school student, I have found that I actually enjoy learning. I love the feeling of experiencing new things in my classes and knowing things I didn’t know before. But I found myself loving some classes more than others. I decided to to dig down deeper into what makes me want to learn in a class and what classes inspired me to greatness, compared to others that I was was less encouraged in.

For the past few weeks, I have done an evaluation in each of my classes to determine what inspired me to learn, pay attention, and enjoy what I was being taught. I started to write down what classes I paid the most attention in, what classes I dozed off in, as well as how well I think I learned the subject in the class.

There were many factors that contributed to me wanting to work hard in the class. Some included a good environment, friendly peers, or even a hands-on activity that kept me interested.

When I compared all of my classes together, I determined that there was one factor that contributed to me wanting to be successful: the teacher. In the classes where I had a friendly relationship with the instructor, I found myself enjoying the class as well as wanting to learn more about the subject.

In the world today, the importance and value of human connection is lost in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives. As a student, I have personally experienced the importance of the teacher-student friendship. I found that when I felt the teacher actually cared about me and my learning, I was more willing to listen.

Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, gave a TED talk titled, “Every Kid Needs a Champion” that explained the significant impact that a relationship can have on the learning process of children.

Perhaps the most simple, yet incredibly truthful part of her talk was when she said, “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

I want teachers who constantly inspire me to be a better person everyday. Who talk to their students, understand their students, and strive to not only be the educator, but to be a friend. One of the most important aspects of the classroom is the respect that is held between the teacher and the student.

Throughout my data, I analyzed a specific class that I understood well, had a high grade in, and enjoyed. I found that the students in the class showed respect for the teacher, as the teacher showed respect for the students. Not only is it the teacher’s role to show respect to their class, it is also the student’s job to show respect to the instructor.

The connection between the teacher and the student is what challenges the student to go beyond. Without this connection, learning isn’t able to completely take place.

Every student is going to have that teacher that lectures with notes the whole class period or that teacher that can’t even remember the student’s names. It’s in these classes that the students fail to engage, learn, or participate.

As a student, I sometimes feel that teachers can’t even begin to realize the power that they have over my education. Throughout my research of my classes, I found that the main determining factor between success and failure was a good, supportive instructor.

Teaching and learning should bring joy. ”

— Rita Pierson

In the end of her TED talk, Rita Pierson said, “How powerful would our world be if we had kids who were not afraid to take risks, who were not afraid to think, and who had a champion. Every child deserves a champion. An adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”

 

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