Most adults will be capable of reciting the names of many teachers they had decades earlier. Some could probably tell you what teacher they had and in what grade. As children we look up to our teachers as mentors, and role models. Though we may remember their names or what grade we were in, few teachers make memorable and lasting impressions on us. The kind of impressions that, 20 or 30 years later, we are still thinking about.
The number one characteristic of a memorable teacher is passion. Passion for their job, passion for life, passion for their students. Passionate teachers are the ones who come into school because they love it. They make each and everyday an adventure for students because it is an adventure for themselves.
What is often noticed about those memorable teachers is that they always demanded and expected more of their students. In educator Regie Routman's book Writing Essentials, she explains that teachers should always set high expectations for their students. The higher expectations give the students the confidence and belief that they can achieve excellence. A passionate teacher will never settle for poor quality. They expect passion from their students, and anything short of a student's best effort is unacceptable. In their mind, the job is not to teach a class for the year, their job is a lifelong commitment to helping their students reach their potential.
Two of the most memorable quotes I ever heard going through school were repeated by one of the most influential people in my life. He would always say, "You will be treated like a man until you ask to be treated like a child". Simple enough to understand, however many teachers fail to adopt this in their classrooms. The students would be held to a higher expectation. They would be expected to act and work as adults, and given the respect and responsibility that accompanies it.
The second quote, which pertains more to student success, is about improvement. He would tell us "I will only criticize you if I know you are capable of greatness.". As a result, anytime he addressed you, always like a man, it was clear that he saw potential in you. This confidence and trust made everyone believe they had the capacity to be great. The evident passion for life and students protruded from this teacher.
Even as a child we are capable of noticing changes in our mentality. It is the years spent with memorable teachers in which we grow the most as individuals.
Memorable teachers are not the ones who are the nicest to their students. They aren't the tough ones either. The characteristics of a memorable teacher go far beyond the external experience. They inspire students and propel them to the next level. The passion for life is undeniable and their ability to share that passion with the class permanently influences each student. It leads to confidence and maturity, gifts that are stored within, and kept for the rest of our lives.