You should never underestimate the importance, influence or impact a tutor or teacher can have on a child at school.

Children spend a lot of time at school – 190 days a year for 11 years of compulsory education. That’s a minimum total of 2,090 days. Over their time at school, children come across a pretty large number of teachers too. Okay, so at primary school, the norm is to have one teacher for a whole year, but once kids reach secondary school they might have, potentially, 10 or more teachers a year.

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That’s a large number of days spent at school, being taught by a large number of teachers.

Why is this important? You might be asking: how is this relevant?

Everybody remembers their teachers

Well, whilst memories of your school days do fade in time, some incidents or individuals you come across are indelible – and that includes teachers.

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In the big scheme of things, once we have left school we remember very little of all the lessons we were in at school. It’s natural that we remember major incidents or the things that made us laugh, for example – but most of the day-to-day soon fades away from our memory.

But we all remember one teacher really well. We may well remember a few, if we are lucky.

And we could remember them for the right or the wrong reasons. However, whether those memories are good or bad, we should not underestimate the impact that they can have on us.

Influence and inspire = impact

Without naming any names, a major factor in me choosing to train to become a teacher was my own experience of teachers at school, and it works both ways. It was my English teachers – one in particular – that helped me develop a love for the subject. This experience was truly inspirational and had a real impact on me.

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On the flipside, it was some of the more negative experiences I had in the classroom – mainly in Science and Maths lessons – that perhaps had an even greater impact on me. I can still vividly remember particular instances in lessons.

I can still remember, precisely, teacher comments in my exercise book.

Whether I’m being fair or unfair about it, these were things that I perceived to be examples of ‘bad teaching’. These were things that I promised I would never do myself as a teacher. I had a desire to be better myself in the classroom.

Yes, teachers really do have an impact.

What difference does it make?

The difference that the right (or wrong) teacher/tutor can have on a child’s confidence level or learning journey at school is potentially massive. Without wishing to dwell on the negatives, one particular Maths teacher I had when I was 14 killed the subject stone dead for me. So much so, that I still instantly switch off when I come across anything vaguely mathematical. I know this is wrong. I totally appreciate the importance of Maths, but it’s no good – I doubt I will change now. The impact one teacher had on me has actually lasted over 30 years!

On a more positive note, there is nothing better as a teacher than seeing a pupil you teach finally ‘getting it’.

It’s the moment when, all of a sudden, something clicks for the child. Most teachers are modest souls and would prefer not to claim credit for this – but they are the reason.

How do teachers make a difference?

There is no rule book or manual to guide teachers/tutors about how to make a difference. The impact and influence you have can be from the quality of your written feedback, the chats you have in the playground, or your use of humour in lessons. It’s the X-Factor that you have, and it’s sometimes difficult to explain.

Very few teachers have that ‘X-Factor’ with all pupils. In a class of 30, it’s very difficult to click with every single pupil. In a one-to-one tuition environment, it is easier in the sense that you have only one pupil to ‘click with’ – but as you have their undivided attention all tutors need to work out what it is that makes that child tick.

Essentially, once you know what makes them tick, the better chance you have of making their learning click!

But, be mindful that every lesson you teach, every comment you make, and every look you give has the potential to build or destroy confidence and to impact on that individual’s personal learning journey.

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