7 Ways Teachers Change Lives

It’s National Teacher Appreciation Day, which is the perfect opportunity to acknowledge the incredible work teachers do and thank them for their commitment to education. To celebrate, we put together a list of some ways–big and small–that teachers change lives. Check them out after the jump, and please take a moment today to thank a special teacher in your life. They really do make a big difference!

1. They see our potential, even when we don’t. Teachers have the uncanny ability to recognize the possibilities within every student. Most of us have a skill or talent that was only fully realized because a teacher spotted it and insisted we use it. Or else.

2. They challenge us. Teachers are not content to stand by and watch people coast through life. They challenge us, and we may resent it in the moment, but looking back, the extra effort was always worth it, because it helped make us who we are today.

3. They give us a safe space. For many kids, school is a sanctuary from a turbulent home life. Teachers are role models, advocates, and mentors for kids who might not have any other trustworthy adults in their lives.

4. They introduce us to new worlds and possibilities. Whether it be Chaucer or quantum physics, teachers open the door to subjects we would have never known about. We’re all a little more well-rounded because of a teacher’s insistence and enthusiasm.

5. They train us to ask questions. One of the most powerful things we can do in life is to ask questions, especially, “Why?” Good teachers will instill this value in their students, and the more people in the world who are eager to raise their hands and question things, the better.

6. They show us different ways to be strong. Whether they’re standing up for a bullied kid or petitioning the school board to reinstate a banned book, teachers are often the ones who show us that strength isn’t always about brawn and muscle.

7. They don’t give up. Teachers work long hours at a job that will never make them rich. They deal with bureaucracy, budget cuts, standardized tests, crazy parents, and disengaged students. Do they get burnt out? Of course. Do they feel hopeless sometimes? For sure. But they never give up, and that’s a lesson we can all take to heart.

How has a teacher changed your life? Please share your experience in the comments!