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The hours spent in school everyday expose children to significant and life-changing events. School experiences affect the identity formation of students as well as social and academic abilities, which ultimately influence relationships and career paths. A school climate that is non-academic and non-challenging contributes to a lack of success in learners. It is a nurturing teacher’s responsibility to build a rapport with students as well as to act as a change agent and identify policies that impede a student’s growth. Teachers such as these have an enormous influence on the lives of their students. 

A positive learning experience encourages students to solve problems, a process that requires planning, experimentation and communication. Teachers who facilitate the development of such skills set their students up for achievement not only in the present school environment, but also in future experiences where problem solving is critical to social and economic success. Successful achievements such as these directly reflect on positive teaching methods and demonstrate the lasting impact of good teachers. 

There are various ways that educators can have long term positive effects on their students. It is important for teachers to help students learn a variety of strategies to become self-regulated learners. Such skills would include study and organizational techniques, self-management skills, learning strategies and social skills. These are crucial abilities for students to acquire for continuing growth and maturation and can be applied to many life experiences in the future. 

Strategies that teachers can utilize to develop important social skills for students can vary depending on the individual or group and their characteristics. However, research indicates that students absorb information best through “authentic situations with a variety of mediums.” This means giving students real life opportunities in which to learn the skill and practice retaining it through different methods that appeal to an individual’s style of learning. 

This can be achieved through several techniques that will have a lasting impact on students. This includes teaching skills directly, with clarity, repetition and compassion. A structured approach can help students feel secure in their process and learn through the careful identification of a skill followed up with practicing it through role playing and the exploration of other mediums, such as videos and books.

Teachers who have a positive and lasting impact on their students take advantage of incidental learning and the opportunities within the day to model appropriate skills. Feedback is provided regularly, meaning teachers discuss what the student did when something happened and whether that choice was positive or negative. Good teachers may ask what choice they will make in a future situation as well. This will help students to generalize the skill they have learned to other tasks to increase abilities in their profile.

Teachers that will have a lasting impact on their students use appropriate materials within their classroom as well. This requires the careful evaluation of materials, methods, program models, media, software and other technology. Evaluation is a vital component to any educational program to maintain quality and integrity in the curriculum, which benefits students by providing them with the appropriate resources from which to learn. In addition, the use of a variety of assessment tools to meet the needs of a diverse classroom, including multicultural and disabled learners, is key to providing positive learning experiences that are retained for later generalization. Having a variety of tools for assessment is critical to avoid the mislabeling of students and is a fundamental characteristic of a teacher that provides a lasting and positive impact on their students.

Effective educators participate in ongoing dialogues about the best teaching methods also. Collaboration and professional development are essential to providing a positive school environment that is responsive to the needs of all learners with or without disabilities. Current teaching ideas can be shared through joining professional organizations or teaching federations, and inquiry and discussion with educators in forums and blogs on professionally related websites can be accessed. In addition, information on professional development activities such as work shops, classes, study groups and observations can be incorporated into the best teaching practices. 

Effective teaching strategies or programs used by educators are generally research based. For example, the use of Discrete Trials in teaching is very effective with learners, because each skill is mastered and reinforced with positive feedback before new concepts are presented. Providing a modified curriculum for students without lowering the standards of the curriculum ensures it is comprehensible to all students. An engaging learning space to promote the feeling of competence and safety among all learners in the classroom is beneficial too as it may encourage interactive learning among students and their peers.

Teachers can have a lasting impact on developing career and vocational skills for special education students too, and many times such a positive experience can help special education students thrive in post educational circumstances. In the latter years of schooling, special education students will have a transition team. The transition team will consist of the student, the parent or guardian, the special education teacher, the regular education teacher, an evaluations interpreter, a representative from the local education agency and adult service providers such as the Bureau of Employment and independent living center representatives. 

Through a goal oriented plan, the student will be prepared for employment with activities such as work study, vocational education and guidance counseling. Post graduation options can then vary. Students may choose to transition into vocational or technical schools that provide specialized education but not a bachelor’s degree. Programs such as these would focus on job training and support before and after graduation. Job placement after graduation is targeted as well. An additional option is to transition to postsecondary education. This may include vocational programs, community colleges or four year colleges and universities. Educators can have a positive impact in all of these areas. 

Teachers can promote a safe and supportive educational environment that helps all children reach their maximum potential. Educators must help students assimilate to the conditions and environment of the school. For inclusion to be successful, the teacher must become familiar with the varying situations of his or her students, while working to overcome any of their own unintentional biases. In addition, facilitating communication and trust with families is vital to helping all students in the classroom, regardless of culture, disability or socioeconomic class.

Stanford professor Linda Darling has recently said that people “learn in a state of positive emotion much more effectively than…in a state of negative emotion.” Teachers who can generate this kind of learning environment for their students with proven results can help to set the standard of what transpires in schools. Test scores only reveal portion of how teachers influence their students, and those that contribute to the general well-being of learners will have a lasting impact not only on cognitive skills, but long range outcomes as well. 

Using positive feedback and positive reinforcement among all students is critical to their educational success. Trust in the teacher and school must be established for a student to engage in the learning process, and this will not happen if a student does not feel valued by the teacher guiding them. Teachers who follow this protocol are sure to be the ones who facilitate success and have a lasting impact on their students. 

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