You Are a Role Model: 50 Ways to Positively Influence Your Students

Our society values role models. Sports figures, soldiers, creative artists, religious leaders, scientists, and even superheroes are among the many role models that embody the values we hold dear. Just as your students turn to media celebrities for advice and guidance, many also will regard you as a role model—whether you want this responsibility or not. At times it can be unnerving to realize that an entire room of students is watching to see how you respond to a classroom event. It is not always easy to have the right answer, to make the right decision or to say the right thing, although your students expect all of these from you.

For many students, you may be the only person in their life who routinely stresses the importance of hard work, effort and good character. Depending on the grade you teach, your tasks as a role model may include making sure your students wash their hands properly, learn about the dangers of using drugs, or get their college applications in on time.

Your actions will influence your students, even when you are not aware you are having an influence. It can be an overwhelming responsibility, but you have chosen a profession that has a profound impact on students. You can be a positive influence on your students when you:

  1. Are extremely courteous even when stressed
  2. Have a procedure for cleaning up the classroom at the end of class
  3. Have tissues and sanitizer available to reduce transferring germs
  4. Wipe down desks regularly to keep student work areas clean
  5. Help students manage their anger appropriately
  6. Make it clear that you like being with your students
  7. Call other teachers by their last name and a title in front of students
  8. Follow school rules, procedures and policies
  9. Show your appreciation and respect for other staff members
  10. Are patient with every student
  11. Are tolerant and understanding of student mistakes and idiosyncrasies
  12. Look up the meanings of unfamiliar words
  13. Are enthusiastic about the subject matter and about instructional activities
  14. Manage classroom interruptions with a minimum of fuss
  15. Make a point to include every student in every activity every day
  16. Dress professionally
  17. Use your “indoor voice” appropriately
  18. Treat all students fairly
  19. Praise students more than you chastise them
  20. Make a point of not missing school without a good reason
  21. Are prepared for class
  22. Listen carefully when students speak to you
  23. Speak standard English and encourage students to express themselves well
  24. Show your appreciation for students’ effort
  25. Are prompt
  26. Help students maintain a notebook, folder or other organization system for their work
  27. Encourage and praise students frequently
  28. Ask students for their side of the story before enacting a consequence
  29. Proofread your own work
  30. Can be counted on to do your share of school tasks, such as bus or hall duty
  31. Make a point of learning about your students’ cultures and neighborhoods
  32. Show sympathy and concern
  33. Are quick to reconnect with students after they have misbehaved
  34. Handle misbehavior professionally
  35. Refuse to be drawn into an argument with misbehaving student
  36. Make sure your own work is done well and neatly
  37. Have high academic and behavioral expectations
  38. Laugh at yourself
  39. Pick up trash in the hallway or on the grounds
  40. Are scrupulously careful to avoid plagiarism or other types of dishonest behavior
  41. Help students learn to believe they are capable learners
  42. Are calm in a crisis
  43. Practice good hygiene
  44. Take a strong stand against substance use
  45. Use good time-management skills
  46. Involve students in altruistic activities
  47. Deal with misbehavior as privately as possible to preserve student dignity
  48. Explain how you would approach a task or activity
  49. Treat parents and guardians with respect
  50. Accept criticism well.

If you ever doubt the impact you have as a role model for your students, just take a moment to think back on your own school days. When you recall the teachers who had the greatest influence on your life, it is likely that their influence was not limited to the subject matter or instructional methods they used. Those teachers showed you not only how to be a good student but also how to be a successful adult with a meaningful life.