Research on Life-Changing Teaching

Colorful art representation of a teacher celebrating life-changing teaching.

The Research on Life-Changing Teaching

The Research Is In! Teaching Is Life-Changing

What really moves the needle for educators and, by extension, their students?

Being an effective teacher is about more than just improving test scores—it’s also about making a difference in students’ lives. When we asked our readers to describe the traits of a life-changing teacher, they said that great teachers make their students feel safe and loved, possess a contagious passion for learning, believe their students can succeed—and always know when to be tough to help students reach their full potential.

But does the research agree? What are the fundamental levers that teachers can pull to refine their practices, improve their craft, and make a significant—or even life-altering—contribution to the lives of their students?

We reviewed nearly two dozen studies in compiling this piece—so let’s get right to it.

Yuoki Terada, Stephen Merrill, The Research on Life-Changing Teaching, Edutopia
children in a classroom
Children Teaching Children

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Steve Nelson: A Bill of Educational Rights – Network For Public Education

https://networkforpubliceducation.org/blog-content/steve-nelson-a-bill-of-educational-rights/

Parents and concerned citizens should demand the following things from every school. Consider it a Bill of Educational Rights. Turn this list into a petition and circulate it among all the families in your child’s school. Send it to the school board, the principal, local legislators.

The undersigned insist that our school(s) and all teachers:

  • Recognize the broad consensus that early childhood education should be primarily dedicated to free, imaginative play;
  • Provide arts programming, recognizing that the arts are critical to all learning and to understanding the human experience;
  • Provide ample physical movement, both in physical education classes and in other ways, recognizing that exercise enhances learning for all children;
  • Exhibit, in structure and practice, awareness that children develop at different rates and in different ways; that strict age- or grade-level standards and expectations are meaningless and damaging;
  • Acknowledge the large body of evidence that long hours of homework are unnecessary and detract from children’s (and families’) quality of life;
  • Exhibit genuine affection and respect for all children;
  • Honor a wide range of personalities and temperaments;
  • Encourage curiosity, risk-taking and creativity;
  • Cultivate and sustain intrinsic motivation rather than relying on elaborate extrinsic systems of rewards and punishment;
  • Understand that brain research supports active learning, engaging all the senses;
  • Understand that children are intelligent in multiple ways and that all these intelligences should be honored and developed;
  • Listen to each child’s voice, give them real experience in democratic processes, and allow them to express their individuality;
  • Know each child well, appreciate the unique mix of qualities each child brings, and never demean, discourage or humiliate any child.