Great Educators Lead By Example

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Students need positive reinforcement, Victorious Hall says.

True education attacks all senses. Therefore, we should be aware of best practices in the classroom while remaining true to ourselves. While teaching in the Prince George’s County Public School System, I’ve tried my best to be as reflective as possible. And as I gain experience, I always try to bear in mind that I am responsible for what students hear, see and feel.

Teaching is so much more than planning a lesson each evening. Our lives are examples to be emulated by students, and most of their worldly perceptions are shaped by what we teach. Because students listen to every word we speak, we must choose our words wisely in the classroom and hallways. So, instead of saying “No, that’s wrong,” say “I understand your mistake, we can continue to work on that.”

Students need all the praise they can handle. They need to know when they are improving or doing an amazing job. While adults also enjoy praise, our youth are still building self-esteem, making it even more important to support them with positive words. The youth are always watching. They study our fashion, the way we handle anger and the way we deal with frustration. If students see us lose our cool, they become empowered to do the same. Teachers must understand that our actions become their actions.

The ability to feel is not just about physical touch. My mentor Wendell Coleman, a former supervisor in the county school system, once told me that “teaching is a magical connection. We ultimately are responsible for transferring unseen intelligence from our brain to theirs.” Knowing this, it’s important to ensure that students feel comfortable in your presence. It is impossible for students to learn if there is no spiritual connection. Shake their hands, give them hugs and tell them you love them. And above all, make sure that love is genuine.

An elder once said that “youth and elders are the closet to God,” so they are able to see and feel things that many others can’t. Teachers must also be aware of what the students share with them. You should know how students feel about you. Most times, students are honest and we must accept the truth they present. Ultimately, being an effective teacher means being an effective person.