Student gives her thoughts about what makes a great teacher
Editor’s note: As staff at Clarion-Goldfield-Dows prepared to come back to school, Superintendent Joseph Nelson asked a student, Paige German, to give her thoughts to the faculty about what makes a good teacher. As her former fifth grade teacher Tanja Jensen said, “She blew us away!” We concur. Here is Paige’s speech:
Hello everyone! I am Paige German, student council president, and this will be my 14th year at Clarion-Goldfield-Dows. I was addressed by Superintendent Nelson to prepare a speech for you all over what I find importance in and value at school, along with what I as a student want teachers to know to better our educational environment.
After seeking feedback from my peers, and looking into some of my own research, I’ve come to three basic points:
- Respect is Reciprocal (Relationships)
- Strive for Creativity (Explore Learning)
- Compassion in Education (Goals)
First off, “Respect is Reciprocal.” Too often students are looked down on as juvenile adolescents. Students are seen for where they are now, not where they could be. Students wish to receive the same human respect that they give towards their educators. This was the number one response I got from students when asking “How do you wish to be treated by your teachers?”. Students don’t want to be alienated, we want to be heard. To be understood. To have an opinion. To feel as if we are equals. From a very young age we were taught the Golden Rule, “Treat others the way you wish to be treated.” We’re not asking to be your best friends, but we are asking that you treat us with the same respect that you expect us to give. This point varies along the lines between Elementary to High School, but the older we get the more we need to be given this freedom. Whether you’re a teacher who just graduated college, or one who has been here for 30 years, these generational boundaries shouldn’t be a factor in how a person is treated.
With the respect, comes a relationship. A bond between educators and their students. Students want a teacher who cares. A teacher who pushes to have personal connections. I immensely value conversations that aren’t always about school. I enjoy asking Mrs. Walker how her cats are doing or how life on the farm is going for Mrs. Charlson. Learning how to have dialogue between students and educators and building a relationship with one another teaches us far more than a textbook ever could. When we construct these relationships we give students a greater reason to put effort into their class work. They want to impress you because they will know you. And they’ll try harder if they enjoy their environment.
We value communication, and we want relationships.
Second point, “Strive for Creativity.” No matter who you ask, the assignments and projects that students remember are the ones when we are given the chance to tap into our own personal creativity. As stated by Susie Lui, of Arlington, Virginia, “When a homework assignment involves art, it’s open-ended, and depends more on my creativity than on what I learn in class, it's easy for me to get lost in it... When I have to write a poem or draw a picture, there are fewer rules and more room for creativity, and I feel a great sense of satisfaction when I'm done.” Visual representation will stick to our brains easier than reading pages out of a book. I remember for vocabulary words in my 7th grade year, for Mr. Vorrie’s Civics class, he wouldn’t just have us write down the definition and move on. He would have us draw a picture that reminded us of the word. Our brains are able to associate visual and hands on learning to our education much better than simple words ever could.
We value creativity, and we want visual educational expansion.
And lastly, “Compassion in Education.” Students want a teacher who they know cares for them. As I know you all do, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. But we want to feel as if teachers aren’t here only for a paycheck, but to help us grow for our futures. We value teachers who are truly passionate about their careers, and can show commendable affection to their students for their efforts. Showing that you’re proud of us, makes us want to do more. We all enjoy the validation we receive after a job of hard work. Taking the step to show your appreciation goes a long way.
In addition, students need educators that will help point them towards their goals. Andrea Heyden, of Oakville, Ontario wrote, “Every student is always in charge of his or her learning. How hard we work in school, how much we take charge of our learning experience, depends on our goals in life. Those students who want to be doctors and lawyers have to work very hard; those who have no dreams tend to slack off. We never learn in school purely for the enjoyment of learning but for the promise of enjoyment that will come later when we attend a university and enter a fulfilling occupation. We inspire ourselves, and we make our learning experience into whatever it is, be it positive or negative.” Many students don’t have a clue what options await them in the future. They need teachers who will educate them on how to set goals and achieve them.
We value passion, and we want dreams discovered.
To finish, I want to remind you all of why you’re here. You all chose this path. You chose to teach the youth of America. Students come and students go, but you’re still right here ready to push them to be the best they can be. From what I hear, teachers don’t get paid the best, so I’ll take the educated guess that you didn’t join this field for the money. You did it because you care, and you want to see us students succeed. We want that compassion brought to life throughout the school system. We want students to feel loved and find the joy of learning. I personally believe in CGD, and I know you all do, too.