What makes a teacher who makes a difference?

Having watched the video input on ‘What makes a teacher who makes a difference’, I felt really inspired to put some deep thought into that question. I found the clip very interesting as it was focused on teaching in South Africa, where I have volunteered in a primary school setting. South Africa is still very much a developing country and it is the individuals which go the extra mile who really make the difference to the lives of those in the communities.

The video clip begins by comparing the role of the teacher to the role of the doctor; the narrator addresses the need for dedication and professionalism within the work place in both job roles. What I find most interesting in this section of the video, is the way the idea that teachers and doctors both deal with life and death is portrayed. Doctors deal with life and death in the literal sense, but it should be noted that if the teacher does not execute their role efficiently, then the result could be just as damaging to the quality of life experienced by their pupils.

The video focuses on the views of the teachers also. It assesses what qualities are deemed as important for excellence in the role. To name a few, the teachers convey the need for teamwork, understanding other staff, accountability etc. One teacher notes that it is not enough to rest on your diploma/degree, and that you should always seek new opportunities to further progress in your learning of the role of teaching such as workshops, joining online communities and so in. I agree that this is extremely important when delivering an amazing service to our pupils and will always be keen to expand my repertoire of knowledge on graduating.

The video then focusses on a few individual teachers and how they have gone the extra mile, beyond their job description. I love the way the narrator reminds us that they all have ‘the xfactor’ in “different ways”, it points out that each individual was able to achieve something in their own way, rather by following a textbook example of how things should be done. I’ve split the next section into three parts to address each teacher and their positive impact.

Teacher 1

The first teacher gave a lot of her time to education within the local community. This included adult language classes, which allowed those attended her class to pay bills & fill out forms without the need for help. I think this is really important for creating a sense of ‘can do’ attitude in the community, it will inspire the younger generations and also allows parents to get involved in the education of their child by having a greater understanding of the written word. When I was in Rwanda on a volunteering trip, I realised that the work you do with adults is so important as these are the role models for the children in the communities. I loved her approach and passion for making the community a better place.

Teacher 2

The second teacher we meet in the video has addressed her need to improve in maths to keep up with the changes in the curriculum. I find it inspiring that after 35 years of teaching experience she doesn’t rest on her laurels and continues to make progress for the greater good of her pupils. She actively involves other teaching staff in her discussions to implement change and allow improvement workshops to take place within her community. By creating support groups for teaching staff, the pupils will benefit in the long run!

Teacher 3

This teacher has given up her time for the benefit of the teaching staff around her. I think this is a great thing to do to allow progression of the whole school and ensure all teachers feel comfortable within their role. By allowing teachers to continue to learn and gain support from their peers, I feel a great working environment can be established which facilitates continual positive change.

In summary, all of the teachers in the video took the initiative to go above and beyond their role to make a difference. The narrator notes that, “the system is not going to create those miracles” and that if you want to see change you have to go for it. I felt like it was a really inspiring documentary, which showed that the role of a professional is not about just ticking boxes, but rather continually progressing with your learning for the greater good of those you are working with. In this video example, we looked at Doctors and Teachers but I am sure there are many other professions that follow this same idea. I am really inspired by what I’ve watched today and I feel like it’s really informed me as to what sort of professional I would like to be.

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