Teachers Are Our Most Critical Youth Mentors
As a teacher, you have the greatest opportunity to impact the lives of hundreds of students, making you the greatest resource for our children. I know. If being an educator and role model wasn’t enough, now we ask you to be a mentor as well. But aside from parents, your students spend more time with you than any other adults.
Have you ever noticed that the most troubled students tend to be those from the most dysfunctional families? While it is easy to get frustrated with those students who are habitually truant or disrespectful, you may be their only hope for breaking the destructive cycle of abuse they are in. By offering these youth a little extra encouragement, you will see firsthand the impact that one person can have on a child.
Regardless on if you are teaching first graders or high school students, the most critical asset you can offer your students is self-esteem. If they do not believe in themselves, they cannot believe in anyone or anything else. Building a youths self-esteem takes positive reinforcements. The praise needs to be consistent and honest. The amount needed, varies greatly depending on the amount of destructive annotations they have received in their lifetime and whether they are still being exposed to it. Even a child living with verbally abusive parents can gain self-esteem with enough encouragement. The truth is youth want to believe they are good, but if they are only told the bad, they come to believe that. If you as a teacher focus your energies on something positive about these youth, you will begin to see them develop positive characteristics.
Children feel that they have no voice, that they are just a kid and can’t make a difference in the world. Today, more than ever children are impacting our society in a positive way. If you help your students identify something constructive they are good at and then help them to develop this talent, they will have something constructive to focus their energy on. Whether it is drawing, singing, writing or volunteerism, if youth feel that they have something constructive to offer, they gain a sense of identity and influence. Help your students find a voice, either artistically, academically, athletically or socially.
Youth are our greatest resource for a brighter tomorrow, and you are our most critical youth mentors. It is your daily struggles that will help sculpt our young minds to be our citizens of tomorrow. As a teacher, your greatest reward isn’t your paycheck or even your summer vacation, but your rewards lie in the lives you impact. From a parent, fellow youth mentor and someone who was inspired by my educators, thank you.