In the words of actress, director, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou

People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But people will never forget how you made them feel’

Many of us have that one teacher we remember. The teacher who helped us learn and grow gave us the confidence to explore and master new talents and skills. The teacher who encouraged us to strive for more and helped us reach our potential.

That teacher for me was Mrs. Taylor-Jones from Long Row Primary School in Belper, UK. I chatted here for The Art of Teaching Podcast.

I vividly remember being in her class. 1993 was a particularly rough period in my life; my family had just separated and I felt so alone. Her classroom was a safe place for me, a place where anything was possible. I LOVED her class, and this set me on a teaching career path.

To be honest, I am sure that everyone in that class and the many classes since felt the same way.  If you get a chance, reach out and thank your teacher, they may never know the difference that they made in your life.

How will your students feel and view themselves after you have finished teaching them?

We tend to remember the extremes: the amazing, and the horrible. If you think back to your childhood, it tends to be filled with these extremes. I remember the most horrific day of my schooling specifically Term 1, Year 4. I had a crush on a girl named Sarah. She had just arrived at our school, and within hours I had had enough time to plot our future together and was convinced that she felt the same. The truth is, I doubt that she even knew of my existence. I only spoke one sentence to her. I asked her ‘Could I sit with you at lunch?’ To which, in front of all of my friends, she laughed and turned away. Looking back, that wasn’t such a big deal, but then, as a slightly chubby Year 4 student, I wished the world would have opened up and swallowed me whole. Or the other time, the greatest day of my life, when in Year 6 I won a community award for my ‘engaging and entertaining’ acrostic poem on hot cross buns. Upon re-reading the poem many years later, I realised that there were several typos and strange rhyming sequences, including feast and treat, and Easter and minister.

If you’re reading this article I will assume that you want to leave a lasting teaching legacy.

  • I want to be remembered as a teacher who made students feel they could achieve anything they set their minds to.
  • I want my students to leave my classroom with a sense of awe, wonder and appreciation for the world that they live in.
  • I want my students to be passionate lifelong learners.
  • I want my classroom to be a place where the words ‘hard’ ‘impossible’ and ‘boring’ are made redundant.
  • I want my students to see themselves as active citizens of the world in which they live.
  • I want my students to value individuality and value opinions that are different to their own.

One day your teaching time will come to an end. One day you will have taught your last lesson and all that will be left will be your teaching legacy.

How would you like to be remembered by your students?

Impact.

Many of us have that one teacher we remember. The teacher who helped us learn and grow gave us the confidence to explore and master new talents and skills. The teacher who encouraged us to strive for more and helped us reach our potential.