How much do good teachers matter? We can all probably think of an outstanding teacher that mattered in our lives. For me, it was my first grade teacher Mrs. Clausing. Mrs. Clausing, like all quality teachers, understood the importance of building positive relationships with children and families. She fostered my love of learning as she made me feel like a valuable member of the classroom. Quality teachers matter because they are able to lay the foundation for success in school and life.
Clearly children come into classrooms with varied personalities and skills. However, it is teachers that take these variations and build a community of learners. Teachers are the key resource because they play a significant role in making decisions that will support and nurture children’s development. The way teachers design learning experiences, how they engage children and respond to them, how they adapt their teaching and interactions to children’s background, and the feedback they give greatly impacts children’s learning (Bowman, 2000). Teachers set the tone for the classroom by planning not only the what but the how of children’s learning.
Good teachers play a critical role in shaping the future of our children. The experiences they provide whether positive or negative are cumulative (Copple, 2009). The sense of trust and emotional security that infants and toddlers develop will shape their attitudes and relationships throughout their lives. For example, teachers’ responsive interactions help infants feel safe so they will explore and investigate their environment. Mobile infants having developed that sense of trust are secure in testing their boundaries, becoming toddlers who seek autonomy and preschoolers who self-regulate. So, one positive experience lead to the next, building a lifelong desire to take risks as a learner.
Good teachers respect and care for children so one day they will respect and care for others. It seems to me that the most successful people in life have a positive attitude, can adapt to change, know how to get along with others, can deal with failure, and can problem solve. These are the characteristics that good teachers develop in young children every day. Teachers’ decisions help foster the love of learning so children can be successful in school but more importantly they can develop attitudes to be successful in life.
Bowman, B.T., Donovan, S., & Burns, M.S. 2000 Eager to learn: Educating our preschoolers. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Copple, C, & Bredekamp, S. 2009. Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs: Serving children from birth through age 8. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.