Peter Russo Explains Four Inspiring Ways Teachers Can Be Role Models

Many successful people will say that they once had a teacher that changed their life. Teachers can have a powerful influence on people and the direction they take in life. In fact, on average, a teacher will affect 3,000 children throughout their career.

Whether you’re discovering a special subject or learning a life lesson, teachers are the ones who will help pave the way for a better future. Being a good role model for others will ensure better self-development and more confidence for their future.

But, how do you become that role model? Peter Russo, a high school teacher in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, says, that there are many ways that teachers can be effective role models for their students and the community around them. Peter Russo explains just four of the ways that teachers can act as role models.

1. Inspire

Teachers have the capacity to inspire students by encouraging them to reach their full potential. Teachers can make a lasting impact on their students that will carry them throughout their education and beyond. In a study, 88% of Americans said they had a teacher that had a significant, positive impact on their life.

It is important to inspire students through what you say and do. Have you ever heard the saying “enthusiasm is contagious?”. There is actually a scientific term for that. Emotional contagion is a phenomenon through which one person’s feelings are transferred to another. Peter Russo says that if teachers are enthusiastic in the classroom, that enthusiasm will carry on to their students. To keep students inspired, praise them where appropriate, encourage friendly competition among students, and try to include students that may be more introverted into discussions.

2. Guide

A great role model will guide the way and direct a path of success for others. As a teacher, providing guidance to your students is essential. Aside from their families, teachers have the greatest impact on people’s lives growing up. Students look to their teacher as another adult authority figure, says Peter Russo, so it is important to ensure you are guiding your students to success.

The bottom line is to be there for your students no matter what may arise. Be there to guide them throughout their adolescence, help them grow into the individuals they want to be, and assist with any problems they may have. Properly showing your students that success is possible despite obstacles will make you an effective role model — and someone they will never forget.

3. Empathize

We have already discussed how emotions are contagious, and it is important to keep in mind that human behaviors are as well. For instance, when you witness a student expressing negative behavior in your classroom, you are likely to react negatively back. You perceive a student’s behavior as an attack on you and a threat to the classroom, which takes your time and energy away from teaching.

It is important; however, to show empathy by trying to see things from a student’s perspective. Empathy as a teacher, says Peter Russo, is about connecting with your students to understand what factors may be affecting their behavior. You can then use strategies to help manage the behavior and work with your students to change it in the future. By expressing empathy, it shows students how they can practice their own self-control, which in turn helps them change their behavior for the better.

4. Respect

No matter what, it is important to respect everyone and anyone. As a teacher, it is your duty to understand that others’ attitudes and contributions are valuable. Never take being the head of a classroom for granted. Rather, express gratitude for your students by thanking them for being a part of your classroom, says Peter Russo. Teaching respect is one of the best lessons for your mentees to take outside of the classroom.

Final Thoughts

The above tactics are just a few of the many that teachers can use to stand up and become a positive role model for their students and community, says Peter Russo. Acting as a role model for your students will in turn teach them to be role models themselves.

Written by

Peter Russo is a High School teacher. He is currently teaching AP Government and AP Human Geography at Istrouma High School in Baton Rouge, LA.

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