Education is viewed by many as the most important way to improve a country and its economy. Skilled teachers are essential to an effective and prosperous education system.
Teachers are arguably some of the most influential people that you’ll encounter during your childhood, other than your parents. You spend hours every week in their company, learning not only academically, but learning from their behavior and the way in which they respond to the world. This emphasises how important it is to have well-educated, skilled and thoughtful teachers in the education system into perspective.
Research using student’s scores on standardised tests has shown that the quality and effectiveness of a teacher has a significant impact on a student’s performance. However, this research has also shown that this impact is greater than just on the student’s academic performance. We know that the family you come from has a huge impact on your academic success — students with more supportive parents and fewer worries will, statistically, do better than students who are concerned about helping their families have food on the table at the end of every day. However, effective teaching is something that we can use to level the playing field. Good teachers have been shown to improve a child’s chances to pursue tertiary education, earn a higher income, avoid dangerous recreational activities, live in better areas and save more for retirement. This means that the effect of a good teacher on a child’s life can be monumental and not only during their years of education, but well into the future too.
Teachers are the Unsung Heroes
Teachers help their students in countless ways, in both curricular and extracurricular ways. Great teachers are able to identify what a student needs and find a way to provide it for the student. Be it extra lessons, somewhere to be after school or a supportive adult figure in their lives.
A survey, completed by Passing the Baton, found that there were five main ways in which teachers made a positive difference to a child’s life:
Teachers spend their days with their students and inevitably get to know them, their aspirations, their hopes, and their flaws. Encouragement is not only relevant in every-day academic struggles (although this is extremely important), but a great teacher will encourage a student to do what they need to pursue their dreams. They encourage students to step out of their comfort zones and go after new things, helping students achieve things they never thought possible.
Further than encouraging a student to pursue their dreams, great teachers make sure that their students know that they, as a teacher, believe they can succeed. Good teachers will also, within their power, give the student what they believe they need in order to succeed. If the teacher is unable to provide the student with what they need, they will try and help them find it, or put them in contact with someone who is able to give it to them.
Good teachers care, sincerely and openly. A mark of a good teacher is that their students know that they are cared for and there is some adult figure who has their best interests at heart. These teachers show their students that they like them, respect them, and want for them to do well. This gives the students something positive to turn to when they are struggling with self-doubt.
Great teachers will always go the extra mile with their students, be it in offering academic support, giving them extra material, noticing that a student needs help in some other facet of their life and trying to find a way to give it to them. A good teacher is always actively invested in their students’ lives — within boundaries. They sincerely celebrate the students’ victories with them as well as mourn their losses.
Students need to be pushed further than they think is possible in order to excel. Great teachers will hold high, but not unachievable, expectations for their students. They will push their students to achieve these high standards and give them the help they need in order to achieve them. This shows students that they are capable of more than they expected, and teaches them to deal with failure when they do not succeed.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10 000 ways that won’t work.”
– Thomas A. Edison
These five ways in which a great teacher influences a student gives the student the confidence they need to achieve their goals and helps them to understand what they are capable of. This understanding is something that will help the student throughout their lives.
Because of the huge impact teachers have on the lives of their students, it is important for them to become well qualified and skilled. The Open Learning Group (OLG) is an institution that is committed to producing well-rounded, skilled teachers. OLG markets distance learning teaching qualifications.
OLG offers the following teaching qualifications:
Teachers are such an important part of a student’s life and good teachers are the most effective way for a country to level the differences caused by socioeconomic inequality, which are hugely prominent in South Africa. Skilled teachers are an extremely powerful tool because they have a direct influence on the next generation. While parents are the most important influences in their child’s life, the influence that education has on generations is unparalleled. Because of this, it is extremely important for South Africa to produce skilled and thoughtful teachers that will have a positive impact on their students’ lives.
If you are keen to make a difference in the world and feel that teaching is the way you want to do it, have a look at this article on what a qualification in education looks like.