“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.’” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.
Rita F. Pierson, a professional educator since 1972, taught elementary school, junior high and special education. She was a counselor, a testing coordinator and an assistant principal. In each of these roles, she brought a special energy to the role — a desire to get to know her students, show them how much they matter and support them in their growth, even if it was modest.
For the past decade, Pierson conducted professional development workshops and seminars for thousands of educators. Focusing on the students who are too often under-served, she lectured on topics like “Helping Under-Resourced Learners,”“Meeting the Educational Needs of African American Boys” and “Engage and Graduate your Secondary Students: Preventing Dropouts.”
Pierson passed away in June 2013.
“Every child deserves a champion — an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”
“Teachers become great actors and great actresses. … We come to work when we don’t feel like it, and we’re listening to policy that doesn’t make sense — and we teach anyway.”
“While you won’t like [all your students], the key is they can never, ever know it.”
What do positive student-teacher relationships look like in the classroom?
- Teachers show their pleasure and enjoyment of students.
- Teachers interact in a responsive and respectful manner.
- Teachers offer students help (e.g., answering questions in timely manner, offering support that matches the children’s needs) in achieving academic and social objectives.
- Teachers help students reflect on their thinking and learning skills.
- Teachers know and demonstrate knowledge about individual students’ backgrounds, interests, emotional strengths and academic levels.
- Teachers seldom show irritability or aggravation toward students.