When you talk to people about impact, they seem to go one of two ways, either focusing on the brutal impact of a car crash or a right hook, or the positive, gentle, joyful impact that makes a difference in the world.
What is common, though, is that people don’t tend to fully appreciate the impact that they, themselves, have. Why? Because they don’t follow the ripples out. As a teacher, you might not realise just how much impact you actually have, and to answer the question at the top, “you’re damn right they do”.
Beyond the headline
You see, it's very easy to focus on the headline - I teach maths, geography, English, music, etc. The immediate impact is, of course, that students are learning that topic you teach. You show that they are progressing in their studies, and eventually they are able to pass relevant exams, GCSE, BTEC, A' Level, and so forth. You might even go a step further and identify that it allows them to go on and get the next stage of their education.
But dig deeper and you find all the other skills they are learning - communication (written, verbal and so on), presenting information in a meaningful way, arguing their point effectively, distinguishing between fake and real news, problem solving, critical thinking, how they approach problems, being creative, collaborating to grow new ideas, understanding patterns and cause & effect. And so on.
These are the skills that will eventually make the difference to your students getting the jobs they want, standing out from the crowd of people with similar qualifications. Jobs they enjoy that support the lifestyle they want. And YOU played a key part in helping them get there.
So never underestimate the difference you make. Especially if you help them understand all of the skills they are developing in your lessons.
Let me give you a practical example.
My daughter plays the flute. There is a music teacher at her school who encouraged her to perform, solo and with others. He challenged her to play in front of big audiences, supporting and encouraging her through the nerves.
As you can imagine, there was a huge impact on her. The obvious one is that it really helped with her flute playing. But it increased her confidence and her sense of self-worth. It gave her courage to face all sorts of situations she was nervous about, and do things she might otherwise have shied away from. It gave her something that she does for herself to relax and de-stress.
A wider impact
But it’s not only her that has been impacted by that teacher. The audiences she’s played to are impacted, taking the joy from the performances out into their own lives. My neighbour up the road even said to me one day “I really enjoy listening to her practice when I’m sitting in the garden on a summer evening”.
Never underestimate the difference you make. Maybe now is the time for you to follow your ripples out and appreciate yourself for the difference you make.
If you want help, message me via the contact tab at the top.
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