1. Your students are asking questions, not just giving answers.
We all love it when we ask a question and get the correct answer. It makes us feel like we are being listened to. However, if your students are asking questions, then we are definitely making a difference. A student having the confidence to speak up shows that they are comfortable in their environment and it’s probable that their confidence will continue outside of the classroom too.
2. You have used your authoritative role for inspiration, not intimidation.
Inspiration is one of the most important parts of being a teacher. Students like to be inspired to do good things, not be dictated too on how things should be done. Always show that you are open to ideas and watch your students grow in confidence and ability.
3. Your shy students start participating more often without being prompted.
Randomly calling upon particular students to answer questions etc. may keep them on their toes, but it never creates an atmosphere of collaboration and respect. When the quiet ones feel comfortable enough to participate on their own, you know you’ve made an impact.
4. A student you’ve encouraged creates something new with her talents.
The simple act of creating is so personal, memorable, and gratifying that you can rest assured your student will want to make it a habit.
5. You’ve been told by a student that, because of something you showed them, they enjoy learning outside of class.
Even if it becomes a short-lived interest, your student will realise that learning outside of class doesn’t have to mean doing homework. I always ask my children what they have done at school; the normal response is “lessons,” “Maths” or on occasion “I can’t remember, I’ve done loads of stuff.” As a parent, I feel completely out of the loop when they say this, but when they volunteer information without the barrage of questions or when they want to show me how to do something that they have learned, I know their teachers are doing something that is making a difference to them.
6. You’ve made your students laugh.
People like, and therefore listen to, other people who make them laugh. Showing you have a sense of humour about a topic will lubricate the learning path for your students.
7. You’ve tried new things.
Students, especially if they are older, can be critical of change. A new grading system or an unexpected group discussion session can easily lead to resentment instead of renewed interest. But your students will remember it. Whether the change succeeds or not, they will remember it years down the road when all their other classes, so similar to one another, blur together.
8. You’ve improvised.
Respect and inspiration result from going out on a limb, whether the limb breaks or not. We all have times when the best of plans don’t work out. Show your students that this doesn’t have to spell disaster. Show them that this is a chance to adapt to change rather than fear it.
9. You have taken a personal interest in your students.
Your students may or may not achieve what is currently expected of them. This can be very disappointing for both student and teacher. However, showing that you have an interest in what they have achieved and how to progress from that point makes them feel inspired to stretch themselves. Looking at their options on a personal level makes them feel like an individual and not a name on a spreadsheet.
10. You’ve let your passions show through in your lessons.
It’s hard to stay animated when you’ve been teaching the same material for twenty-five years, but it’s also hard for your students to stay animated when they don’t know why your subject should excite them. Even if they never become excited by your subject, they have learned that different people have different interests and that it’s okay to share your passion regardless of what other people think.
11. You’ve made students understand the personal relevance of what they’re learning.
Psychologists have proven time and time again that people remember things much better if they are personally relevant. Easier said than done I hear you say and yes for the most part it is. However, if it’s possible then use it to your advantage, it will definitely make a potentially boring lesson more interesting for your students.
12. You have cared–and shown that you cared.
Researchers at the University of Leicester have proven that students assign the most authority to teachers who care about them. If this is true, then you are demonstrating a wonderful principle: that respect comes from kind behaviour.
13. A parent approaches you with kind words.
Certainly too seldom the case, but reassuring when it happens. Sometimes you have no idea your student listened to a word you said until a relative comes forward to thank you. Happy Parents =Happy Students = Happy Teacher = Happy Principal = Happy School.
14. Your students visit you when they don’t have to.
This is not a popularity contest. This is an accessibility contest. If your students feel comfortable approaching you outside of class, whether, for help on an assignment or advice on a career, you’ve made a difference already.
15. You can be a mentor when you need to be.
Many students suffer from major obstacles to learning in the form of inner conflict or turmoil at home. While school counsellors exist for a reason, you can’t afford to be completely closed off to personal issues. Learning is not independent from feeling, and this is something you can demonstrate to your students.
16. You practice strength and patience.
We’ve all reacted to current situations with emotions left over from the past, whether it’s trouble at home or personal strife. The ultimate lesson, at the end of a rough day, is not blaming anyone but yourself for your reactions. Students are always watching; someday someone will be watching them too.
Despite what administrators might drill into our skulls, educators exist to produce good people, not good test results. The true measure of our success is hard to record on paper but easy to recognize in a student’s behaviour. Look for the signs and be open to improvement.