What influence does an individual teacher have, apart from what the school does?
Each school has its own set of governing rules and educational philosophy that to some extent dictate what happens in your classroom. Some districts even provide curriculum programs to be followed. Yet as an educator, you have a great deal of individual influence in your own classroom, as long as you tap into the right resources. Even the little things you do can make a big difference, such as creating a physical atmosphere in your room that welcomes students and stimulates their minds and imaginations.
The rules you set for academic and behavioral management give your students a safe, structured routine, allowing them to learn more comfortably. An important tool to developing a positive influence is the formulation of your own teaching philosophy, which will evolve with your years of experience and your continuing education. Apply your philosophy statement as a litmus test to all you do, in order to create the best experience for your students. This can include creative touches to lessons in order to differentiate for individual students, or even whole groups of kids from one year to another, according to their needs.
Along this same line, the social and academic feedback you give your students comes from you alone, and is one of the most important influences you have on your students, especially when it is coupled with positive relationships. Kids will strive for knowledge and success when they are encouraged by someone who clearly cares about them. Make it happen.
Even outside of our classrooms, teachers have a good deal of influence on our school and community. One small but critical step is communicating openly and often with parents, and not just for the “trouble” students. Take time to call or sent positive messages to parents, and you’ll be creating positive vibes about your class and your school. Every school and district has committees designed to make the system better, from academics to behavior management to community relations. Join one. Let your positive voice and creative ideas be heard. Or sign up to interact with kids after school through an extracurricular activity, which will, by its very nature, promote positive community interaction for you and your school.
Finally (and one of the healthiest influences on yourself, as well), form friendly, effective relationships with your fellow teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals, office staff, and maintenance. Your positive attitude makes a difference in your school every day, sometimes in ways you’ll never know directly but that you’ll feel in the atmosphere of your school.