Can you think of a teacher who had a positive impact on your life? Have you ever thought what your ideal teacher would be like?
I have been thinking about this topic in recent days while writing a new book: The Barnabas Prayer – Becoming an encourager in your community. I wrote the first draft of this book during our COVID-19 lockdown, sent it to my publisher and, a couple of weeks later, was surprised to receive the offer of a publishing contract. Surprised? Well, who would have thought I would be offered three publishing contracts within twelve months? I am embraced in this big bubble called ‘humility’.
What, you might justifiably ask, has this to do with my ideal teacher?
Well, it has made me appreciate even more that most adults are parents, or teachers, or coaches, or mentors – in reality, a combination of these. In other words, whether we like it or not, we will either positively or negatively impact the young people with whom we interact.
Eight positive signs of my ideal teacher
- They affirm life and further its potential, and always share messages of hope.
- They enter into real discussions with their students because, at heart, they are genuine and emotionally available.
- They set clear boundaries – negotiated with older students – for themselves and others.
- They embody values and virtues that others merely admire. They walk the talk.
- They always make sure their students feel safe and secure in their company.
- They look to identify their students’ strengths, name them and encourage these young people to use these strengths in positive ways to develop resiliency.
- They possess a great sense of humor, are able to laugh at themselves, and create a fun learning environment.
- They create a nurturing and trusting environment. They demonstrate trust in the students who they influence, by being:
- authentic, rather than putting on an act or being phony – their goals are aligned with their values and feelings;
- compassionate and caring;
- a positive, non-judgmental cheerleader;
- a good listener;
- humble, empathetic and promoting understanding with everyone with whom they interact.
Of course, much more can be written about an ideal teacher. Your story will be different from mine. Your needs as a student might also have been different from mine, although as teenagers we all wanted to be loved and cared for, feel valued, and know that our lives had meaning and purpose.
I celebrate the many teachers who put up with my mischievous nonsense, cheek, laughed lots, guided me through challenging times, spoke to the potential I often could not see, and embraced most of the ideals shared above. I share the impact of many of these amazing people in my new book coming out in a few months.
I wonder what your ideal teacher would be like? Remember to look in the mirror from time to time, smile and remind yourself to be the teacher you would like to have had in your interactions with youth.
About the author: Robin Cox has been a School Principal, sports coach to National Under 19 Level, Youth Symposium Organizer, developer of Youth Mentoring Programs in New Zealand and Australia, Churchill Fellow and author of books linked to youth mentoring, Peer Mentoring and the development of adolescents to become the best they can be using their God-given talents. He has trained over 1,000 volunteer adult mentors, run workshops for teachers promoting the Spirit of Mentoring and personally mentored over 1,000 adolescents. Still an idealist, a cancer survivor of 50+ years, married with two adult children, Robin lives in New Zealand and shares a passion with anyone wanting to make a positive difference in the global community. You can see his short daily mentoring tips on Facebook or contact him through his Mentoring Matters website Robin’s free Mentoring Minutes daily podcasts (each podcast between 2 and 4 minutes), containing hundreds of tips for anyone working with young people, are available here. About 45 blogs have been converted to short video clips, all of which are linked to encouraging youth to reach their potential. These are available on YouTube https://www.youtube.