The Patience and Persistence Needed for Our Students

Reflecting on what makes a "Master Teacher," George Couros says the most important quality is the ability to connect with students. The other qualities won't make a difference without this one.


A friend, and former colleague, Les Worthington, wrote the following Facebook post (shared with permission):

While standing in line at a store today a young man approached me and said, “Hello Mr. Worthington.” He has grown a lot since I saw him last (+/-5 years), and I didn’t recognize him (I guess I’ve aged well because he recognized me!) Once he said his name I said hello and gave him a hug. We chatted briefly before he had to go. I thanked him for coming up to me and saying hello.

I know (as do most people in education) that what I do has an impact on kids, and that I have an important role in guiding and educating the next generation. Moments like today remind me that students also have an impact on us. As I drove home the positive emotional impact hit me, brought tears to my eyes, and really filled my bucket.

This young man, for reasons beyond his control, has had to overcome more obstacles than a child should. My time with him had its ups and its challenges. I’m a better educator and person for having known him. I hope my impact on him was equally as positive, and I hope this post finds its way to him. Him choosing to come say hello, although small in action, was large in impact, and reminds those of us in education why we do what we do.

Les is the real deal, and from knowing him and seeing him work directly with students, I could feel the emotion in his post.

A few things:

  1. My hope as an educator was not to solely “prepare kids for the future” but to help them build a better world than we have currently. Although, we all can have frustrating days as teachers when students challenge us, how we interact in those moments, as Les reminds us, will model a way for our students in the future.
  2. I remember getting frustrated with students early on in my career when they were “acting up” but, again as Les reminds us, many students are going through things that I would struggle handling as an adult.  When you feel them struggling, the trick is not to “love less” but to “love more.” Students need to know you have their back especially when they are struggling.
  3. I remember one mom being upset with the progress of her child and I kept reminding her that kids develop in different ways at different times, and we just needed to be patient. Her son grew up to be a fantastic person because our focus as a team (educator and parent) was to not focus on the “right now” but to focus on the child’s future and be patient with the pathway they were taking.  This is not about being “soft” on kids at the moment but just to remind me to be patient and persistent.  On days when we struggle, it is essential to look back on how far a child has come, as to become frustrated where they are in that moment.

I loved the post from Les. It gave me several reminders on the incredible work of educators being done everywhere.

Source: George Couros