What makes a good teacher? Understanding a teacher’s long-term impact

March 10, 2022 | Kristen Cole

We all remember the one or two teachers who made the largest impact on our education. 

These are the teachers who made us feel valued and added a dash of spice to the classroom with their energy. 

The reality is, students spend 7-8 hours each day at school. 

In younger grades, this time is spent with one teacher, while upper grades have multiple teachers.   

To break it down further, there are 7 hours of school in a day and 180 school days, amounting to 1,260 hours each year. That’s a significant amount of time to spend with peers and teachers! 

Don’t let the amount of time you spend with students be intimidating. Many teachers will enter the profession as a result of the profound impact that can be made on the lives of their students. 

But what makes a good teacher?

And how can teachers help students be successful?

This article will break it all down for you.

The Teacher Effect

While state governments and schools are obsessed with test scores, research is starting to reflect the fact that a teacher’s largest impact cannot be measured with a test.

study of over 570,000 students in North Carolina, showed that teachers who developed students’ noncognitive skills are the ones that impacted their students’ future success the most.

Noncognitive skills are harder to test on a piece of paper because they include skills like relating to others, self-discipline, and self-motivation, among many others. 

This is also where social-emotional learning becomes integral in the classroom. It involves teaching students how to interact with one another and how to be aware of their own emotions.

What Makes a Good Teacher?

The same skills that make a good teacher, like compassion, empathy, communication, and adaptability, are the same skills that you need to teach to your students. 

It all comes down to how you encourage your students to develop these skills!

1. Good Teachers Encourage a Growth Mindset

When students face challenges, it is daunting for them. These challenges include not only learning new information but also making friends, handling conflict, and dealing with disappointment.

Understanding that growth comes through various challenges in life is part of what a growth mindset is all about.

You can help students view these situations as an opportunity to grow and learn more about themselves.

What speech do you give to your freshman classes? 

One such encouraging talk could be, “You will get to do things in the class that you’ve probably never done before. We will have fun projects on the horizon because learning should be fun, but challenging work is also integral to learning.”

Encourage your students to ask questions in the pursuit of widening their perspective and existing knowledge. They will not only learn about the curriculum but about themselves in the process. 

As a teacher, it’s important to be wary of how your students best learn information, how they best study and how to handle conflicts with classmates. 

Set the right expectations for your class and create an environment built on trust. 

2. Be Authentic

Students can spot phony behavior from a mile away. They know when you aren’t being honest with them. 

Even if they may not always like the truth, they will be grateful for it in the long run.

While teaching in the classroom, share with your students information that will help them better understand the lesson. Prepare them and help them along the way with tips and tricks for remembering information. 

Being authentic with your students builds trust. This, in turn, helps students show up as their authentic selves with you.

If they feel safe with you, they are more likely to ask for help when they need it and even reach out with any other concerns they might have.

How Can Teachers Help Students Be Successful? 

Reports have shown that parents, teachers, and students want you to teach on multilayered levels, including academic, social, and emotional knowledge. 

This can appear like a daunting task in itself, so where do you begin?

3. Broaden Your Definition of Student Success

You know that students are more than the grade in their grade book. Expanding how you define success is imperative to student success.

Do you have a student who asks a million questions? Did they finally get a better grade because of those questions? Then this is an opportunity to celebrate them!

Did you notice a student helping a classmate? Celebrate them.

Did you catch someone including a student who is normally left out? Celebrate them.

These are the types of noncognitive skills that you need to be looking for. Celebrate those things that show humans being kind to other humans. 

It’s important to celebrate persistence.

And even better, tell their parents. Parents want to know that their children will grow up to be good people, not just academically smart.

Celebrate student successes of all kinds, and you will find that they will celebrate you.

4. Be Intentional

There are countless situations that arise in the classroom where students can learn those noncognitive skills, but you will have to be intentional.

Do you have a group project coming up? Use it as an opportunity to show students how to interact with others, including those who don’t want to do the work.

Do you see someone getting frustrated with a math problem? Teach them how to persevere.

Does someone look sad or upset? Check in on them, or have another student check in on them to build compassion and empathy.

While pushing academic material, pause and take the time to help your students build those noncognitive skills.

These are the skills that will take them far beyond just academics, in the world outside of the classroom.

Building a relationship with students 

All of these ideas boil down to the relationships you build with your students in the classroom. 

The gigantic task of helping students learn about life may appear overwhelming, but it is so worth it when you see them grow in their relationships with others or when they trust you enough to ask you for advice about their College plans.

So, do you feel inspired to make a positive impact on future generations? Are you being called to the life of a teacher? 

Klassroom offers an in-depth teacher certification program that will get you certified and started on this journey. 

We would love to chat with you about a future in education!

Are you thinking about becoming a teacher or making a career change?

Start your teaching career and find teaching jobs with Klassroom. Learn more about our online teacher certification program and become a teacher today!

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