Teachers as Role Models
The beginning of the school year is an excellent time to check your reflection. As teachers, we must present a professional demeanor, not just in our outward appearance but also through our actions and reputation.
Teachers are charged with presenting a moral and ethical blueprint for our students. Our behavior in and out of the class matters, and is being scrutinized, by students, parents, colleagues, mentors, administrators and the general public.
Teachers create a lasting impression on their students with The American Psychology Association terming those teachers that are always remembered as “transformational mentors”, in that they literally create change in the life, prospects and outlook of a young person.
So how do you ensure the professional image you are promoting is worthy of this significance?
- Dress The Part
Many schools have dress codes for faculty, precisely because teaching is a profession and we need to project a professional demeanor. Sometimes a suit will not be appropriate especially if you teach younger grades but office wear is necessary.
- All Communication is Formal
A quick note in a student’s agenda, an e-mail sent home, a comment left on a test, even though the means of communicating with students and parents may have changed in recent years, the tone must not. Remember to use appropriately formal language and writing conventions such as “Dear_____” and “Sincerely______”.
- Watch Your Language
Seemingly innocuous slang terms can create an informal environment and lead to students pushing the envelope. Encourage your class to use proper terms and full sentences by modelling rich, varied and appropriate language.
- Clean Up Your Online Presence
Companies such as Clear allow you to search your previous online posts and clean up anything that doesn’t present your best possible self. Students will search for their teachers, so be sure they only find what you would want them to find.
- Social Media Guidelines
It’s a good idea to update and reinforce your social media privacy settings, some teaching unions even advocate a total ban on teachers using social media. You need not be so drastic, but look over your communications, comments, photos and likes and consider if you would be happy for your students or their parents to see them.
- Maintain a Professional Distance
Students and teachers have a very special reciprocal relationship, we learn as much from them as they do from us, and when you spend so much time together its natural to develop fondness. However, professional boundaries must always be adhered to, students are not our friends and personal details such as phone numbers should never be exchanged.
- Practice What You Preach
If you want to promote tolerance, understanding, kindness, perseverance and hard work in your class, you need to actively show your students how you exemplify these characteristics. Share ways in which you have had to work hard to achieve your goals, discuss your philanthropy and volunteer experience, explain why you became a teacher and your hopes for the class.
Each day you have a chance to show your students in practical ways how we can use logic, reasoning, respect and discussion to navigate the world and solve problems.
For some students you may be the only constant, dependable adult in their world, your effect on their lives cannot be overstated, your dedication to improving opportunities for the future generation has already been proven in your choice of teaching as a career, so follow these guidelines, and be the role model your students deserve.