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Teachers: You Make a Difference

Do you remember your favorite teacher?  Why?  What was it about that teacher?  How many years ago was it?

I have too many to count and I wasn't a great student.  I was always a good kid, but I learned differently.  Class and homework wasn't priorities and tests were - well, stressful.  I knew I wasn't going to do well because I didn't understand the material, I didn't ask for help, I barely did my homework, and I certainly didn't study for exams or quizzes.  Maybe had I put forth effort I would have done better.

Thinking back to the 80's when I was in middle school and high school I remember teachers in the front of the classroom.  I remember lectures, taking notes, handouts, the blackboard, going over our homework, and teachers not caring if they were liked.  I think it was very different then than it is now.

First, I think a teacher has to be defined.  I define teachers as anyone who in any way shape or form puts themselves in a position where their words or actions can be heard or seen by a student.  As a result of being heard or seen by a student you have the power of changing their lives, their attitudes, influencing their choices, and their behavior for the rest of their lives.  I think anyone who works with teens or youth - coaches, staff, secretaries, administration, cooks, maintenance, bus drivers, and youth workers are all teachers.  What a great responsibility and a proud and noble occupation.

What makes a teacher we remember though?  A teacher that cares and works to build positive and supportive relationships even knowing all our students learn differently.  A teacher that seeks to inspire and connect with their student where they need to be met is a teacher who touches the heart and when you touch the heart the mind will follow.  A teacher that is challenging and has structure, routine, and is willing to be vulnerable in a way that the students know the teacher isn't perfect, but their passion for being a positive influence in their students lives is teacher that is going to get the most effort out of their students.

I think teaching today is much different and harder than ever before.  I believe teachers today have to not just be teachers and professionals of their subject area, but they have to care about students beyond the classroom.  They have to inspire, motivate, challenge, encourage, listen, teach, support, and be patient.  They also need to have tough skin, but an open heart with their students.  Teachers today are having to do more with less.  They're counselors and parents in some ways because more and more young people are growing up in homes being raised by grandparents and parents who are non-existent.

Teachers are heroes.  Teachers are so influential every day.  Teachers are responsible for the wellbeing of our youth and ultimately our future world.  What an incredible and challenging in an ever changing world.  WOW!  Thank you teachers.

Recently, I spoke to all the teachers and staff at Burkburnett ISD in Texas and I had an amazing visit.  My talk was about teen mental health, teen suicide, and relationships.  Relationships.  I think our success is about the relationships we have with our students and with each other.

I got to really thinking about being a teacher during this visit.  They experienced a teen suicide in October of 2017.  The teachers were crushed as was the whole community.  We as teachers are so much more than just teachers.  We are coaches, parents, role models, their trusted adults who are responsible for the well being of our students today, tomorrow, and who they become later on in life.  We are people who our students will never forget.

I look back on my teachers, coaches, and administrators and I think what I remember most is the individual relationships with each one.  No relationship was ever the same.  They were all different and they all had different roles in me being the man I am today.  Some relationships weren't very good, but that was for me to figure out.  Some were very positive, but they were my physical education teachers and keyboarding teacher.  I was good at physical education and keyboarding.  I had coaches that were positive and very difficult.  I think some liked me and some probably didn't.  I had to figure it out and understand why they weren't as strong as they should of been.  Maybe they were adults in my life that didn't care to be my friend - yeah, I don't think any of them did care.  Some of them are now in my life and I have a great relationship with them, but they were tough.  They were fair, but tough.

I had this urge to write about teachers today.  I have the greatest respect for teachers.  I always wanted to be a teacher myself, and I was, but I am not a curriculum guy as much as I am a coach of young people.  I found me and where I fit best.  Can't help but think of the difference teachers make every day.  

So, as I conclude my rambling and thoughts, I just want to acknowledge not just my teachers, but all teachers.  Every teacher I know is a good person who cares about our youth.  I have the greatest respect for you.  Thank you.  Thank you for serving.  Just remember, today, we need to be willing to do more with less.  Don't ever give up on your students.  You don't know what they're going through or what they're feeling.  You are influential with your smile, your encouraging and supportive words, your demeanor, your style, your efforts, and your discipline.  

Don't strive to be a favorite teacher.  Strive to be present and engaged every day.  Strive to connect and be that trusted adult.  Our subject area is second to our teaching young people first.

Thank you for being a teacher.  You have made a difference in my life and you continue to do so.

Who is Jeff Yalden: Educational Speaker for Teachers and Staff

Jeff Yalden is an educator for 26 years specializing with working with school communities speaking to teens, teachers, parents and community about teen mental health and teen suicide.  Jeff works with mental health professionals and is passionate about giving hope and inspiring his audiences about mental well being, life, and taking responsibility for your actions.  

If you are looking for a speaker for teachers and staff members, look no further, Jeff Yalden speaks truth, is inspiring, and connects with his audiences.  Teachers love Jeff because he is encouraging about who teachers are personally as well as professionally.  Visit Jeff's webpage speaking to teachers and staff for more information about Jeff Yalden.