Throughout my career. I’ve been really fortunate to be able to watch a lot of great teachers and it always makes me wonder what is it that they do that makes them so different from everybody else. Why did they Excel as teachers and truly impact their students?
Let me elaborate on a couple of things I’ve seen in great teachers and what they do. Number one, they really avoid cynicism. They think sometimes that kids and parents only care about themselves and don’t care about others, and I think that fosters long-term pessimism and the belief that there’s a little point in trying to help students, but all of us in education must believe we can help people. We have to believe we can create change through education and improved society and there will always be people who make a great difference to others and one person for example I admire is the late Helen Keller who lost her sight in hearing at the age of two, but here’s a quote she left us, “I’m only one, but still I am one. I can not do everything but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”
Look in the mirror once in awhile and ask what you are doing to make a difference in the lives of others. All those young faces you have in front of you. If appropriate, quietly give yourself credit and remind yourself that you make a difference in the lives of your students. Another thing I see in great teachers is that they encourage and nudge. They don’t push their students. Most if not all of you have found the benefits and joy of managing your health and being active. Unfortunately, many of your students do not have the same zeal for their health. A level headed approach to selling a healthy lifestyle is to be positive and supportive. Trying to scare students into exercise never worked. Using groups/social pressure to push students to conform to the group usually backfires. When students are extrinsically motivated to change, that behavior quickly diminishes. When the extrinsic motivation is removed. Extrinsic motivation seldom results in longterm behavioral changes, and worse yet, intrinsic motivation is reduced to a level lower than when the student first came to PE classes. The ultimate goal of teachers is to work themselves out of a job by creating intrinsically motivated and independent students. So take a clue or two from great teachers. Be positive. Don’t be cynical and encourage and nudge them to higher performance levels.