Theodore Roosevelt once
said, “Nobody cares about how much you know, until they know how much you
care.” Truer words have never been spoken. Teaching is all about the
relationships we build with our students.

We live in an
increasingly connected world where information is at our fingertips. So where
does it leave teachers when a quick Google search or a question posed to Siri
produces almost instantaneous answers? The truth of the matter is that teaching
is more about inspiration than information. Of course, teachers must know their
content and be passionate about it, but truly effective teaching focuses on how
and why, not what. The key is to spark each student’s imagination, to pique
their interests, and leave them wanting more. Once students are hooked, you can
turn over the wheel and let them drive their own learning. The role of the
teacher is to pose thought provoking, complex questions. Challenge students to
think critically and creatively. Help them discover the road to enlightenment.
If they are motivated, they will build the road themselves. If you have to
drive them down the road kicking and screaming, you haven’t effectively done
your job.

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Teaching is hard. Motivating students is
even harder. The teacher’s willingness to care about their students is the
single most important factor in developing student motivation. Firmly believe
in each student’s ability to learn, even when they do not. Make an effort to
know your students as people. Give them the opportunity to show how talented,
brilliant, and creative they are; they will never cease to amaze you!

I am reminded of the story of
Michelangelo and his famous statue, David. Michelangelo was given a flawed
piece of marble that had been cast aside by another artist. Undeterred by the
flaw, he set about carving the stone. Upon completing David, people asked
Michelangelo how he had created something so magnificent from a flawed block of
stone. He replied, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him

Michelangelo firmly believed that every
stone block contained a statue, and it was the sculptor’s job to find and shape
it. Like stone blocks, every student has within them a magnificent masterpiece
waiting to be revealed. And like the sculptor, it is the teacher’s job to shape
each student to reveal their masterpiece. Some will be easy to shape, while
others will have rough edges and require a little more work. Believing in your
students, caring enough to look for the masterpieces within, will empower them
to believe in themselves, and that is when the real magic happens. What a privilege
it is to be a teacher!

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