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January 18, 2010


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Yes, I fully hold that a teacher can damage in a week never mind the better part of a year. Further, I believe that teaching contracts should be for no more than five years, then at least it can be seen if there is any promise.

It's amazing the impact (positive or negative) that one teacher can have on a students entire life. Teaching is an awesoem responsibility. God bless those who really take it to heart rather than just see it as a job. I had my share of crummy, but I've also had a couple of very special ones. I am still in contact with my fourth grade teacher and with my favorite high school English teacher.

Coming from a family of teachers and knowing as much as I do, I firmly believe that a teacher can make or break a classroom. So far, we've been incredibly lucky with our girls' teachers.

I see this ALL THE TIME! In my school, there are teachers who NEVER send kids to the office. And then there are teachers who send kids to the office for every slight infraction. There are some teachers who have a *bad* class EVERY YEAR. What are the odds?

The teacher DOES make a huge difference.

Oh, most definitely - the teacher makes ALL the difference. Oldest Son was one of those kids tormented in school - he was painfully shy and introverted as a child (something he still struggles with, to be honest) and, for many reasons, did not fit in with the kids he went to school with at all. The only grade he really enjoyed was third grade, and it was entirely due to his teacher. She was marvelous.

Sprite is only in pre-school right now, but I have several friends who are teachers in all areas of schooling, from kindergarten up to senior year. I notice that the ones who actually like what they're doing and tell me the funny stories of their kids are the ones who end up being popular and wanted as a teacher. The ones who complain about their kids and working are the ones with the problem classes. I've actually told a few of the complainers that they may need to look for another life's passion because I would not be fighting to put Sprite in their class.
Great post!

Teachers and coaches can make all the difference! I don't propose that there is a magical "this is the way to be a good teacher". I've had a lot of different teachers be "good" for different reasons. I think the main thing is that to them, it's more than a job.

It's all about loving what you're doing. When I coached rowing, I wanted my kids to do well. Not just win, I wanted them to be good sports, good teammates and learn to love it the way I did.

There's no question but that teachers make a difference. I couldn't say for sure that any one grammar school teacher had a lifelong impact, but then, I can't say for sure that any one thing I did with my kids had a lifelong impact:).

This was a great post and it's a topic I love to discuss. My boys are only in kinder & 2nd, but the oldest one had a really awful kinder teacher who basically took away his enthusiasm for school in a matter on months. Luckily, the next year his first grade teacher was able to get it back again.

Absolutely! As a teacher, I believe that how I carry myself and how I treat each student can have a tremendous impact on how the kids see themselves and treat each other. As LPC noted, as students, we might not feel explicitly the things a teacher does to shift and shape a classroom atmosphere, but a general environment of happiness or negativity might be easier to discern, even for a young child.

I could write a post about this. As you know, my class gets the worst behaviors in our district by definition, and the key to loving my job is loving those kids, and building on their strengths. Then when we transition them back, we often have to coach the teachers in how to work with the kids. It is sad.
I have seen so many teachers who are unhappy and don't like kids. It kills me. My son has had a devastating year or two due to teacher attitudes. He now has an amazing group of teachers for the first time in years. They LOVE him. They are baffled by the reports that come from his former teachers...
Very interesting topic, Maureen. Thanks for taking it on.

I still send Christmas cards to one of the English teachers I had my senior year of high school. I made a point of visiting my biology teacher in Panama when I was coming back to the US from Chile. I loved Mrs Baca and her class.

I saw my senior year grammar teacher, who was a big obnoxious pain in the neck, years later in the grocery store. I stopped him and told him that because of him, I had not lost a single point due to a grammar error on a paper in college. (I was an English major and this was before personal computers and spellcheck.) I thought he was going to cry.

I still remember Mrs McGuire, my third grade teacher, who told me that she expected to see one of my books on her shelf someday. I need to get on that.

I also remember my reading teacher who let us read the story "Gold digger the Fat Cow." As I was a chubby little girl who was called "fatso," I did not appreciate it.

Just like the principal sets the tone for the whole school, the teacher sets the tone in the classroom. I can't believe Noah will be at "the big school" in the fall, starting first grade... I hope he'll have a great teacher and a wonderful year...


You alwasy new which teachers were weak. And we definetly used that to our advantage. Good teachers are but a dime a dozen. But those good ones are often great and make up for the others.

My children are lucky enough to have teachers that have had positive influences on their academic careers and self esteem. On the flip side, I remember many of the not-so-good teachers from my school days. Ironically, the one teacher that had the biggest positive impact on me was a substitute that we had for about a month.

The 2nd grade teacher's defensive reply to your question demonstrates her lack of control. There must be a community of respect in the classroom, or it will not be a good year for anyone.

Teachers can have a huge impact on our children and to think otherwise is just uninformed. I lucked out more than once with my boys. I'm glad to hear that you did too.

You have made a very valuable observation. The teacher who felt powerless was powerless -- but from her own shortcomings, unfortunately. The best teachers I had(and I would bet my kids would say, they had) were organized, in control, but with a sense of humor and appreciation for all students. They conveyed that everyone had a part to play, something to learn, something to contribute. A lesson in life as well.

It is a lot of work, but I constantly monitor behavior so all my students feel safe - emotionally safe, safe to take risks in voicing their opinions...

Some kids can survive anywhere and others reflect their environment. My daughter did well no matter what teacher she got. Son? A bad teacher could ruin the year for the whole family. His worst teacher was in kindergarten and I beleive to this day that experience impacts how he views school.

I wrote my commment before I read the other comments, so now I have one more thing to say. Everyone is on to something with the idea that teachers who complain about the kids a lot are the worse. there are a couple in my office that I don't even talk to - everything that comes out of their mouths is negative. You need to like people in general and kids in particular to enjoy teaching.

You've hit the nail on the head! Yes, teachers have a huge impact on the tenor of the classroom, no matter what the students' age. I teach high school sophomores, and I see this all the time.

Interesting that the stories you related in your post have a lot to do with the presence of boys in the classroom. As the mom of four sons and a teacher, I can attest that boys in the classroom are their own particular bugaboo. Richard Whitmire has a new book out called Why Boys Fail that addresses this. On my blog, I've provided several links just for Boy Moms that say even more.

I just found your blog -- I'll be back!

Having a son with ADHD, the impact (positive or negative) of a single teacher is truly amplified. Each year, we pray he will get a teacher (set of teachers, now that he's in middle school) who appreciate him as a person and do not call him out for every single little infraction. His like or dislike of certain subjects is always strngly dependent on the teacher's enthusiasm for the subject as well as the way he is regarded. As people, we can always sense whether someone likes us or respects us. How devastating when a teacher does not. And how wonderful when the educator cares on a deep and effective level!

Teachers can have a huge impact on a child. My kids have had good ones and bad ones. Which is not to say that the teachers were bad or good necessarily but that they managed to related to my children on one level or another. Personality plays a big role. Currently I am not loving my daughter's first grade teacher and it is clear she does not have much love for daughter. Second grade will be coming soon.

The teachers I liked the best were the ones who didn't take any crap from anybody. Teachers who can't control their classes have no business in the classroom.

I believe 100% this is true. Am I perfect at this as a teacher? I wish I could claim perfection, but I am far from it. I work hard at respecting each child and challenging them to respect me and the other students in the class. Some days it works better than other.

I try not to send my kids to the principals office unless it's absolutely necessary (like when a kid attempted to stab with me a pen). Also, if I find out a student is bullying another student (physically or with words) I am on them like white on rice.

I hope that I can make a difference in my kids life in nine months. I don't think I can take credit for this. This is what I have decided about my own classroom. I choose to work in a school that it matters if I show up or don't each day. I believe that if I give the very best I can to each kid and so do their other teachers, collectively we can work to make a positive impact on my life!

I love your interesting insights into this topic. I think I might have to steal it for a post on my site!

Wonderful, thought-provoking post, Maureen. I don't know that I can add much that hasn't already been said (should have gotten here sooner, dammit!)

Just recently, Taylor's 16-yo girlfriend mentioned that when she was in 4th grade, her teacher snapped that she colored like a 2-year old. She never forgot that. I'm sure the teacher was just having a bad day, but you never know what can wind up being a lasting memory for a child.

I see something like FB son's situation in my son's first grade class. It's a VERY boy heavy class, and some of these boys are real troublemakers. But his teacher is wonderful at keeping them in line and keeping them respectful. Hopefully, his second grade teacher will be as effective!

I'm probably repeating a lot, but yes a teacher can make an impact. Especially in Kindergarten, when they are just starting out and their whole view of school can be colored. They can either learn to hate school or enjoy it, depending in large part on their teacher. Especially when they're little. It's funny, too, because some teachers relate to kids differently. I had a teacher for three years (2 room schoolhouse) who really didn't like me much. I wasn't into sports and the things that he was, and I was quiet and a little bit backwards. He treated me like dirt. But my sis was in his classes a few years later, and they got along great. She loved soccer--which I swear that he worshipped--and was a bit louder and more social. It shouldn't have made a difference. Being a teacher, all of his student should have felt respected and safe. But it wasn't that way. I have felt the effects of those three years since, in both my botched math skills and confidence that had to be restored. But a good teacher--oh my! The joy!!

In elementry school I loved math, till I got to the sixth grade and the teacher from hell. I lived in a small town and when I went to the seventh grade, she followed me. Thankfully she didn't follow me to high school, but the damage had been done. She was negitive from the first day of sixth grade.

I then went to get my GED a few years later. Guess who was the teacher? I never went back!

I know that my mom, who's been teaching now for well over 15 years, has students she still keeps in touch with. She is a choir teacher, and sometimes she has kids for only a semester, and sometimes she'll have them for three years. most of the kids love her.

I know that I have riding lesson students who still keep in contact with me- and I only had a lot of them once a week for a year or two, which isn't even the same amount of time as what a school teacher did. I think that the teachers that make the biggest impact are those that give the children confidence in themselves, make learning fun, and help you realize that that there isn't any need to be mean to one another.

Yes! Teachers have so much influence on children. They are at school longer than they're home. (If you subtract the time that they're asleep.)

Our homelife runs so much more smoothely when my kids are happy at school. I have found that to be true over and over.

I've taught and then worked in the school system and have been in and out of classrooms when I used to be the school tech person. It's amazing how some teachers have such great classroom management while others just plain suck at it. Of course teachers can make an impact in nine short months.

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