Teachers have magical powers. Think about that for a minute. By motivating students to push past the superficiality of a textbook or equation, they animate subject matter and craft meaning and emotion out of otherwise static letters and numbers.
English and Math could be either a student’s dream or worst nightmare. The difference can truly lie in how teachers encourage and care for their students. This Teacher Appreciation Week, we spoke with teachers Cadi Russell, Lori Hudak, Gina Tinney, and Megan Koscianski about how their experiences within education inspired them to connect with their students and build their confidence.
Sharing is Caring
Communicating with students is a major part of encouraging them. Teacher Lori Hudak sends her students information and additional resources to keep them engaged with their English coursework. “I motivate my students by communicating with them frequently and sending them informational messages, such as suggesting booklists for their grade level. Additionally, as part of my feedback, I provide links to websites, images, and videos with additional resources related to various assignments.” Supplying them with constant feedback and information helps students to associate with their teachers and the subject they’re teaching.
Appreciating students and their work, in turn, allows students to thrive individually and value their teachers. Teacher, Megan Koscianski recalls how her favorite teacher balanced creating respect while building bonds in the classroom. “Mrs. Wilson truly cared for every single one of her students and wanted everyone to do well in both class and life. She reminds me that it is possible to have a connection with students while still maintaining, and having the respect of being the teacher.” Our teachers care for their students and show them how respect needs to come from both those who lead the classroom and those who use the classroom for exploration and growth.
When a teacher connects with a student and takes the time to share in their passions, students build skills and principles that last a lifetime. Teacher Cadi Russell describes how her favorite teacher, Mrs. Schneider, influenced how she motivates her students. “In her classroom we laughed, learned, and felt like a family. Today as a teacher, I think back to how caring she was, and try to instill many values and skills she had as an educator, into my daily practice. As a teacher, I find it important to encourage students to show and explore their creativity and passions. As a cheerleader and educator for our youth, I know we can expect incredible things to come.” Laurel Springs teachers have confidence in their students and do not hesitate to empower them to share the same trust in themselves.
“Good relationships can help build that confidence in yourself and that’s what I want to bring to each and every one of my students in order to give them the best shot at being successful,” shares teacher, Gina Tinney, whose teachers always made her feel like she could do anything. She builds relationships with her math students through open and genuine exchanges. “Once I can get a student with me in my virtual classroom or in my iClass for the first time and they can hear my passion and see my friendly face and laugh along with my jokes, they feel much more comfortable asking for help again. This is a life skill that a lot of students and some adults really have not mastered yet and I really strive to make sure my students feel comfortable asking them.” Laurel Springs’ online environment does not detract from one-on-one connections whatsoever, allowing students to depend not only on others but their own selves, as well, to succeed inside and outside of the classroom.
Ms. Hudak also remembers how her teacher Ms. Nix helped her to believe in herself from an early age. “The extra time she took to work with me during lunch or after school to help prepare me for [spelling bee and math] competitions showed me that she believed in my success.” Laurel Springs teachers are no strangers to taking time to help students understand class material and their own self worth. “In order to motivate and encourage my Laurel Springs students I try to show them that I am here whenever and however they need me,” explains Ms. Koscianski.
A genuine dedication to student success is one of teachers’ many powers, and our teachers do not let our educational model take away from the way they care about and motivate their students. Our teachers tremendously support and build the foundation off of which Laurel Springs works—lifelong success and confidence through academic growth and personal development.