by Jeff Odell
In education, there’s no silver bullet…except maybe great teachers.
Everyone can think of a teacher who had a special impact on them—who inspired them, helped them overcome a challenge, even changed the course of their life.
For me, it was Ms. Langoise in first grade and Ms. Lyons, Señor Knauerhaze, and Dr. Sheets in high school.
Like many ANetters, I’m a former teacher (12 years, mostly kindergarten and first grade). On back-to-school nights, I used to tell parents and guardians that I aspired to be one of those special teachers to as many of their kids as I could. Recently, I ran into a former student, now a young adult, at an event, and she and her mom both burst into tears before hugging me. I think I can count her as one success.
But what makes teachers successful—whether as one of those special ones or “simply” supporting students to meet grade-level standards?
Certainly they must know their content and relevant standards. They need to be able to teach, assess understanding, and reteach to bring all their students along. Classroom management, high expectations, fostering a productive learning environment, empathy, and emotional intelligence are all important. There’s also continuous professional learning, collaboration with peers, and planning, planning, planning. Teachers manage budgets, evaluate curricula, order materials and supplies, learn and use new technologies, plan special events, communicate with families, assess, prepare reports, write recommendations… The list is endless.
ANet provides critical tools teachers use to meet their students’ learning needs. And our coaches build school leaders’ ability to support their teachers. I’m proud to work at an organization that’s all about empowering teachers.
But we know great teaching is more than a checklist, more even than a science or craft or art. Great teaching is magic. I remember how Ms. Langoise made me feel that I belonged, Ms. Lyons nurtured quality and creativity, Sr. K. made me laugh while learning, and Dr. Sheets fostered exciting debates.
In education, we often say, there’s no silver bullet…except maybe great teachers. On this World Teachers’ Day, take a moment to remember the special teachers in your life. I bet they’d appreciate a note.
Jeff is our managing director of marketing and communications.