10 Ways Teachers Make a Difference

Nov 03, 2010

Education is one of the building blocks of society. Educated individuals tend to be happier and healthier, and study after study has found that an educated populace leads to a stronger economy. So what's behind all these educational benefits? Teachers. To show our appreciation, we here at would like to take a moment to reflect on some of the ways in which teachers make a difference in our world.

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Elementary Teachers

1. Inspiring

Maybe your love of poetry was inspired by your first grade teacher reading Shel Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends. Or perhaps you became an engineer because of that cool experiment in your fifth-grade science class. So often it is teachers who provide that initial inspiration that becomes a lifelong passion.

2. Encouraging

As a kid, this blogger never had any trouble with reading but was terrified by math. But with the patient encouragement of my teachers, I learned to like - and excel at - math all the way through calculus. When students say 'I can't,' teachers are always there to say 'yes you can.'

3. Motivating

Even for the best of students, there's always a teacher there to remind us to try harder. Putting 110% into everything you do can help you succeed in all aspects of your life - and, of course, a teacher taught me that.

4. Realizing Student Potential

For some kids, school work just seems to come easily. And while there's undeniably a genetic component to succeeding in school, a study published recently in Science reminds us that it takes a teacher to help us realize that potential. Researchers studying twins found that genetics do account for as much as 82% of variability in children's reading skills. But children who received more effective instruction (from a teacher, of course) were much more likely to develop at their 'optimal trajectory.' The lesson here? Nature needs a little help from nurture, and teachers are there to fill that role.

5. Role Modeling

When you ask kids who their role models are, they're likely to name movie stars or famous athletes. But it's really the teachers they see every day who influence the adults they will become by modeling positive behavior, good choices and a caring approach to life.

High School Teacher

6. Developing Community

A good school often forms the center of a community, where students and their families come together to learn, share resources and invest in their children. Teachers are the backbone of this community, creating the classroom and extracurricular experiences around which everything revolves.

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7. Leading

As student advocates, teachers play a crucial leadership role both in their schools and in the greater community. Nobody knows the needs of students better than their teachers, and these professionals lead the way in creating effective learning environments from the local to the national level.

8. Providing a Safe Haven

We all wish that the world were safer for our kids. But the sad truth is that domestic violence, bullying, peer pressure, sexual harassment and discrimination are all things that schoolchildren can face everyday. A good teacher can be a hero for these children. He or she may notice something's wrong, provide a sympathetic ear and help children find safe and supportive ways to solve their problems.

9. Rebuilding

This year, World Teachers' Day honored the crucial role that teachers play in rebuilding a community after a natural disaster or economic crisis. UNESCO reminds us that, 'Without teachers input to shape education reforms, recovery processes are not likely to achieve all their goals.' Whether it's teachers in Haiti working tirelessly in shacks after the earthquake, or teachers here in the U.S. providing a safety net for families who lost their income in the economic crisis, teachers around the world are 'recovery's front line.'

10. Fighting Poverty

Education is the most important tool for fighting poverty. Without literacy skills and a basic education, families cannot overcome social and economic barriers. Every day teachers in impoverished communities fight poverty by giving poor children access to the education they need - and deserve - to make a better life for themselves.

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