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The lasting impact of teachers: why their dedication matters

Teachers shape the future by inspiring and nurturing young minds. A Preply study reveals 84% of students recall more good teachers than bad, highlighting the deep and lasting influence teachers have on their lives, fostering creativity, confidence, and critical thinking.

Matt Zajechowski

Matt Zajechowski

Matt is a Marketing Specialist with 14 years of experience in digital marketing.

teachers appreciation week

When you think about who makes a difference in the world, teachers aren’t always immediately recognized, but your impact is felt for years to come. Regardless of whether you’re rewarded for your efforts, day in and day out, you quietly but substantially shape the world’s future by molding the minds of young learners.

As a teacher, you do more than impart knowledge. You inspire critical thinking, foster creativity, nurture self-confidence, and instill a love for learning, all of which reaches beyond the classroom. Across the globe, you plant seeds that grow into the ideas, innovations, and societal contributions of tomorrow.

And, as a recent Preply study shows, your impact can stay with students for the rest of their lives.

Teacher Appreciation Week

There’s no denying that you face your share of challenges. You often hear about disillusioned educators who have left the field, the competitive job market, and the struggle to achieve a balanced lifestyle.

But there’s another side to this that deserves attention, particularly in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week: The countless stories of students whose lives have been positively impacted by their teachers.

A vast majority of students — 84%, according to Preply — have had far more good teachers than bad, a testament to the passion and dedication they bring into the classroom. Those good teachers aren’t just a figment of school memories; they leave a lasting impact.

And as many as 59% of former students testify that a teacher significantly influenced their future, fostering ambitions, developing skill sets, and encouraging dreams.

In fact, nearly half of those surveyed express a desire to reconnect with their most impactful teacher, acknowledging the difference they made. Another 77% of respondents say they reminisce about their most influential teacher at least once a year.

These numbers don’t just highlight the influence of a teacher — they tell heartening stories of gratitude and appreciation, underscoring why the teaching profession is so deeply important.

The commonalities of favorite teachers

If you want to be that pivotal, ‘favorite’ teacher, you may think the definition is subjective or requires you to be easy on your students, but some universal qualities surfaced in Preply’s findings. Favorite, impactful teachers leave a lasting mark due to their unique teaching approach, their subject, and where along their educational journeys students encounter them.

For many, the most memorable favorite teachers appear in high school, followed by primary and then middle school. Beyond general subjects, teachers specializing in English, language arts, and science seem to be the most popular.

But perhaps the most enlightening finding relates to teaching methods. To rank amongst the favorites, you can create a similar environment that the majority of respondents say their favorite teacher offered in the classroom. Favorite teachers created an approachable, relaxed atmosphere, and it didn’t come at the expense of education. Close to half of these favorite teachers balanced warmth with just enough challenge, maintaining a learning environment that fostered both trust and growth.

Only a small percentage of teachers had an especially rigorous style, suggesting that favorite teachers are usually those who can combine accessibility and understanding with academic rigor — certainly no small feat, but something students appreciate long after they’ve graduated.

Making a difference beyond academics

While academic accomplishment is a huge part of education, your role as teacher often extends beyond the classroom, and being more than just an instructor can draw a stark contrast between good teachers and excellent educators. Recognizing the whole person instead of zeroing in on your student simply being an academic learner makes a difference.

According to Preply, favorite teachers have played a supportive role combating shyness, helping with mental health struggles, and easing the transition for students new to their schools – all of which can profoundly impact a student’s overall development and well-being.

In fact, 37% of respondents credited their favorite teacher with nurturing them in a way that made up for neglectful parents. This highlights the incredible potential you have to help your students through truly difficult experiences.

Additionally, half of the individuals surveyed noted that these favored teachers shared personal life details, helping to foster a deeper, more human connection that extended beyond the curriculum.

Sometimes, these connections spill over class hours. More than half of all respondents (54%) mentioned that their favorite teachers made themselves available outside of class, embodying an above-and-beyond commitment to their students.

A bright future for teachers

Between COVID-19, funding cuts, and other challenges, the teaching field has certainly been hit hard in recent years. But your impact as a teacher hasn’t diminished at all. In fact, students may need your stability and guidance now more than ever, as the country continues to face social and economic challenges.

In terms of the job market, the future looks promising. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, prospects for preschool teachers are set to expand, with a surge in job opportunities through 2032. The BLS predicts an influx of about 56,300 new openings for preschool instructors annually during this period, meaning many more opportunities to get your foot in the door.

Teaching is a hard job – it’s extremely demanding, both intellectually and emotionally. If you’re a teacher or aspiring to be one, know that your work is so much greater than imparting a curriculum. Every moment in your classroom is an opportunity to touch lives and shape futures, one student at a time.

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