Everyone is a Teacher (1 of 5)

We are teachers. Most every day we meet with our students and we give them some piece of the puzzle. The puzzle, of course, is their education. Their future. Their life. This is serious business.

We are not simply passing along a set of grammar rules, or vocabulary words, or verb conjugations. We are not teaching our students to speak. We are teaching them to communicate. We are teaching them not only to hear, but to listen. We are teaching them life skills, not just for university acceptance, or a career, or any other temporary thing. We are teaching them how to have a full and successful life, which is far more valuable than any job or retirement package.

Every day when we meet with our students, we are shaping them. To a certain degree, we are responsible for what they become. Whether we like it or not, whether we realize it or not, whether we intend to or not.

Today begins a 5 part series called Everyone is a Teacher. We’ll take a brief look at the Big Picture. One of my goals is to begin a conversation about the heart of what we do as language teachers. Another goal is to share my conviction that every person is responsible for those under their wing. Whether in the classroom or not. As professional teachers we have no excuses. We understand our duty. We understand that our students trust us. We understand that we are feeding information directly into an impressionable mind. So let’s begin…

No.1 By caring, we teach our students to care 

One mistake that many teachers make is to believe that the heart of education is to transfer information from point A to point B. If I teach a general array of subjects in a public school and I understand the facts about science, math, history, and geography, then I am certainly required to give that information to my students. I am obligated to help them understand how multiplication works. I am trusted by the state, my principal, and many parents to teach my students why the Roman Empire didn’t last. Likewise, as an English teacher, my duty is to explain how and when to use the present perfect verb tense. These are essential components of education.


Many teachers do not realize that their teaching methods are handicapping their students. In fact, I would contend that a teacher’s method of delivery and enthusiasm is of greater importance than the information he or she passes on.

I don’t remember a lot of what I learned years ago in my public school education. I’m sure it was valuable and factual information, but I just don’t remember. I’m certain that I could not pass Mrs. Wilson’s 7th grade biology exams. I can’t name the 50 state capitals. Mrs. Rice would be upset. But what I do remember is how much Mr. Gibbs cared. He was genuinely disappointed after grading a stack of tests, not because the scores were bad, but because it was clear that we did not prepare. Mr. Gibbs taught me to care about a boring subject like Algebra. He taught me to care about doing things right and doing things well. He taught me to care by caring himself. He taught me to not be content with poor preparation because he prepared for class each and every day.

Every day we teach our students an academic subject. We give them factual information. But we also teach them whether or not they should care about learning. We set their future into motion by the ideas and habits we demonstrate before them. We teach students to care by caring ourselves. We implant new verb tenses and vocabulary in their minds, but we also teach them whether or not it’s important to continue studying, growing, and maturing.

What about you? What are you teaching today?

Go to the next Tip:arrow
Everyone is a Teacher (2 of 5)


About The Author


Jake Hollingsworth is a 2010 graduate of English For Life Academy. Find him at www.JakeHollingsworth.net