25 Ways Teachers Can Be Role Models
Reviewed by Jon Konen, District Superintendent
There are many reasons why students think of teachers as role models. One of the biggest reasons is the desire to become a role model for students to look up to, to learn from, and to remember for the rest of their lives. Everyone has felt the power and lasting presence of an effective teacher, who also had a bigger impact. Whether it’s learning the value of community service, discovering a love for a particular subject, or how to tap the confidence to speak in public, teachers are the ones who light the way for us in this world.
Teachers being role models is not a new concept, and has inspired students to go into this field for ages. If you are thinking about becoming a teacher, good for you! We are here to root you on and help you make the right decision. Your next step would be speaking with schools in your area. Luckily, we have relationships with schools in every state with education programs. Just use the simple search function at the top of this page, or browse the listings below.
Before we start talking about things that make us thing of educators as role models, we are well aware this list is not complete. If you have any additional ideas or inspirational stories to share, we would love to hear from you!
Here are 25 ways of the importance of teachers
1.) Be humble. There is nothing that teaches a child or young adult mature behavior like modeling it yourself. This isn’t just true when you are right. You also have to show your students what it is like to be wrong, and admit it. This is never easy, no matter how old you are. Especially when you are in front of several students who look up to you. And let’s face it, there are some students who aren’t going to feel sorry for you. But that’s life. And you have to show them that right is right, and wrong is wrong – no matter what.
2.) Encourage them to think for themselves. Treat your classroom like a group of individuals, and celebrate their diversity. Create activities and discussions that foster conversations and discovery about who they are, and how they can appreciate the differences between each other. This type of focus from time-to-time will build a stronger bond between your students. Also, an environment of trust will build, which can relax the atmosphere and help students focus more on learning. It’s also important to help students understand the way they learn, and encourage them to explore those parts of themselves as well.
3.) Perform volunteer work. Find a way to incorporate community service into one of your lessons, and discuss how you contribute to the community you live in. Ask your students to tell you ways you could perform community service as a group. Many schools will give students a certain amount of time off if they are doing an activity that falls into this category. See if you can organize a community service event with your class. For example, if you are a music teacher, you can take your class caroling at a retirement home. Or, you can have your class pick up litter on a stretch of road. There are many ways you can instill a sense of pride in giving back among your students.
4.) Show empathy. When we think of teachers as role models, we imagine sympathetic mentors who listen to their students. Sounds simple, right? All you have to do is show that you care? It may sound simple, but we have all had teachers that we didn’t connect with. Students can tell when a teacher is tuned in or tuned out, and disconnected from them. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have all had teachers who went out of their way to show they care about us, and want to see us succeed. We all have different personalities, and you should be authentic. But be mindful that your students are looking up to you as an adult with life experience they don’t have. As they try to figure out how to move into adulthood, make sure they know you’ve got their back.
5.) Point out the positive. Create a culture in your classroom that rewards kind behavior. The importance of teachers is apparent in the link between positive reinforcement and their confidence and behavior. Teach them to be constructive with their criticism, pointing out positives before negative, or suggestions for improvement. Practice with exercises that allows the students to be positive and critical towards each other. This is the kind of respect that debate class exercises can teach children – how to agree to disagree. Teaching children to get in the habit of looking for good in others is never a bad role model for behavior.
6.) Celebrate the arts. Teachers being role models by helping students appreciate the arts isn’t the first thing that comes to people’s minds. But helping children connect with their own inner children by tapping into the arts. Even if you do not teach a creative subject, you can incorporate music, discussions about art, and give students artistic assignments that reflect the curriculum they are learning. Mixing it up every once in a while will keep their minds fresh, and encourage them to look at life a little differently. Many students are obsessed with music, art, literature and other forms of creative expression. Give bonus points for students who pursue an independent art project that goes along with a teaching.
7.) Send a positive note home to their parents twice a year. Showing your students that you appreciate them in a direct way is important. But indirect forms of gratitude can be a boost to their confidence, and model positive behavior. Most parents never expect to get a note in their kid’s bag saying what a pleasure they are to have in class. So why not give your kids a boost and let mom and dad know you care? Every parent knows, we just want our kids to do well and succeed, no matter where they are in life. This will help your relations with them as well. And we have a feeling your students will appreciate any effort you make to let their parents know they’re doing alright.
8.) Fulfill your promises. Hey, remember last fall when you said you would buy the class a turtle if they earned all those stars? Well, it’s been six months since they earned em and school is almost over… Okay, don’t be that teacher. We’re all busy. Even your students. That’s why you need to follow through on your promises when you make them. We don’t want to them to think it’s okay to say one thing, and then completely disregard it. And if you fail to keep a particular promise, be honest about it. Don’t make up an excuse. And try to make up for it. Your students will see how to deal with their own shortcomings, and will respect you more for your honesty.
9.) Dress appropriately. Look, we know how young and hip you still are. No one wants to be uncool. But teachers being role models means remembering you are in a professional environment. And it’s not your job to fit in with the cool kids. It’s your job to stand at the head of the class and foster a sense of mutual respect. After all, you want to model professional behavior for your students from day one. This will help with classroom management issues. Dressing in a professional way will keep students from thinking of you in a less respectful way. This goes for cleanliness and hygiene as well. Just make sure you take your job seriously when you show up. This is not only good to model for your students, but important in the eyes of your principal and other administrators as well.
10.) Stay away from social media with students. Educators as role models on social media is a new and important topic. Do not mix on social media with your students. And be careful what you have out there on your personal accounts. We are all too familiar with the stories of teachers and other professionals doing something unprofessional and getting fired for it. Have a policy to connect with students on the channels that your school sets up for you. Remember, parents are looking at you as well, and know that you are in a role model position with their children. When you post on social media, just realize that your students’ parents could see your words as well. Just be careful.
11.) Encourage physical activity. The importance of teachers extends to the physical fitness of their students. It doesn’t matter if every student is inclined to be physically active. Encouraging physical activity is good for all groups of students. Even if you do not teach a physical education class, you can still talk about physical activities when you lecturing or performing other activities. Even weaving the topic into your lectures or conversations can help plant the seeds in students’ minds that they should look for ways to exercise.
12.) Give lectures about role models. When you are discussing a period in history, or introducing a new subject to your students, find a way to incorporate a hero story into the lesson. For instance, if you are going to talk about French history and the Hundred Years War, you would talk about the bravery of Joan of Arc. Or you could find stories about other unlikely heroes, and those who shaped history. When you do, have your students discuss ways they can be heroes in their own lives. Even if it’s just stepping up in small ways to help others or do things they didn’t think possible.
13.) Have them read Profiles in Courage. When we think of teachers as role models, we think of the classic novels and literature they shared with us. John F. Kennedy’s Nobel Prize winning book chronicles the acts of courage by several figures throughout American history. These characters were brave enough to make tough choices in hard times, putting their country before themselves, and their personal safety. Other books can be great options, such as To Kill A Mockingbird or movies like Good Will Hunting, when you want to give your kids a break, and teach them a lesson in doing the right thing. Being a good role model for kids means showing them how to point their moral compass in the right direction no matter what. The importance of teachers cannot be overstated when it comes to reading.
14.) Hold a fundraiser. Pick a local charity and tell your students you have a goal to raise a certain amount of money within a certain period of time. You will all make a game of raising the most money and giving it to a charity. It can even be a non-organized charity. Let’s say you hear about someone in your community who lost their home to a fire. You could raise the money and give them a gift card or something they may need. There are all sorts of ways you can incorporate the idea of fundraising and charity. Be sure to include all your students in the process somehow. These types of exercises can also help give them leadership and business skills.
15.) Discuss world events. Every Monday, or on some kind of schedule, spark discussions about world events. See what they know, and ask questions that make them think. Teachers being role models includes showing students how to make sense of the world, and express different ideas in a peaceful way. This can model for students how they should act when they speak with others, and how to actively listen to other points of view. Many students will not have heard about some of the events you are speaking about. Don’t let them sit back quietly. Find ways to involve them too, by asking questions that can draw them in.
16.) Have a pot luck. Every once in a while, have a meal with your students that celebrates you time together. Yes, food is another way students can see educators as role models. So have fun with this one. After all, we all love food! Tell your students that they are welcome to bring a dish from home, or you can provide a cheap set of snacks. This can be a good way to talk about cooking with your students. Many kids aren’t involved in with the cooking at their homes. Some parents teach their kids about food, but it’s probably the exception, not the norm. So, be that teacher that shows them that they can learn to cook and eat healthy foods. You can show them that good food can also be good for you!
17.) Work extracurricular activities. When your students see you working outside of the classroom to help your school function, it says you go the extra mile. It also shows that you have a strong work ethic, and you are doing a job that you’re passionate about. That is the kind of feeling you want your students to have from their careers later in life. Show them that you enjoy your job, and it will pay off in the classroom. And, if you were once a star athlete and have coaching skills, you can be a role model for the students playing sports in a similar way.
18.) Be organized and on time. You want to present yourself in a professional way as much as possible. This means more than looking the part and acting the part, it means being the part. The best way you can show your students how to execute their work is to show up on time and be ready to teach. Plus, if you have a clear vision for how you want the lesson to go, then you will be more effective in delivering your message.
19.) Practice random acts of kindness. Here’s an idea for teachers as role models: How about you put an apple on every one of your students’ desks on the first day of school? How would that be for a proactive show of appreciation from the get-go with your class. That would also put them on notice that you are the type of teacher who will surprise them from time to time. This teaches children to go out of their way to show appreciate – even if it’s just for the heck of it.
20.) Ask for input. You know that suggestion box that companies sometimes have for employees to make recommendations? These can be ideas for lectures, field trips, and other things the students think may add to the learning environment. The importance of teachers in showing students how to participate in conversations is essential to their growth. Giving them a feeling of ownership and participation in the class decisions and idea generating process will give them a sense of pride they may not have otherwise; especially if you agree to test their idea out.
21.) Apply democratic ideals to class discussions. Just because your students may not be old enough to vote, doesn’t mean they can’t get a feel for our democratic processes. Teachers being role models to show how our democracy works can be a great lesson for students. Hold votes on decisions that reflect discussions you are having on topics to see where people stand. Then encourage debate and explain to them how our system is supposed to work. No matter where your students might fall on the political spectrum, you can set a good example by engaging them with our core values.
22.) Invite guest lecturers. Find role models in the community that do good work, or perform some kind of public service. This can be small business owners, individuals, city officials, and other notable figures who can inspire the children to do good in their lives. Plus, it’s always fun for students to learn from other people than just their own teacher. Kids need lots of role models in their lives. Plus, whoever you invite will get to share a personal story from their life, or show them how they work in their profession. There are just too many reasons why this can be a great idea!
23.) Make them keep journals. You can inspire your students to understand that it helps to keep track of your thoughts as a way of organizing your goals, connecting with your feelings, and making sense of the world around you. Your students will improve on their own communication skills through their writing practice, and have a safe space to explore their thoughts, during an otherwise hectic daily routine. When you teach students to understand themselves a little better, they will start to see educators as role models.
24.) Start a class garden. Many schools have room for classes to start their own small garden. If not, check with your county office to see if there is any land available where you can make a community garden. This can teach students about growing food, and how people have to work together to sustain our standards of living.
25.) Make them give a presentation on one of their role models. Lastly, have your students think about what makes a good role model, and present their findings to the class. It can be a famous example, or anyone who inspires your student to present. Try not to create too many rules for your students to abide by. See where their minds go, and what qualities they associate with the term.
In what ways do you think you can be a role model to your students?
There must be a million ways teachers can be stand-up role models for their students. Surely, you have a few bouncing around in your head, right? If so, share them with us on social media. Or, leave a comment below.
If you’re ready to learn more about making an impact in students’ lives as a teacher, just use our directory of schools to find out more about programs near you. All you have to do is choose your state to narrow your options.