A role model is a person who inspires and encourages us to live to our fullest potential and see the best in ourselves, someone we admire and aspire to be like, a person whose behavior, example, or success can be emulated by others, especially by younger people. The Code of Ethics for the Seventh-day Adventist Educators of 1997 clearly states that teachers should be role models to their students and the wider society.
A teacher’s role is to educate and to transmit values through their function as role models. The teacher challenges learners to engage their minds and think in new ways, as well as encouraging students’ creativity and innovative thinking. The teacher shapes the learner’s ability to reason. Teachers can serve as role-models in the classroom by:
- Practicing humility. When teachers makes bad choices, they should admit that they have made a mistake. This will help convey to students that everyone makes mistakes and encourage them to take responsibility for their actions.
- Encouraging students to think for themselves. Despite the many topics that need to be covered, teachers should allow space for students to think for themselves. Let them express why they have taken a certain line of thought. As Ellen White says in her book Education: “It is the work of true education …to train the youth to be thinkers, and not mere reflectors of other men’s thought.”
- Demonstrating a positive outlook. White warns that those who analyze the words and acts of others to find fault fail to appreciate the pleasant things in them. Teachers should point out positives before negatives and teach students to look for the good in others so they build a positive outlook.
- Being personal. Teachers should share personal beliefs and thoughts with students when appropriate. When I taught about evolution and Creation for the topic ”Early Man” in my history courses at Kenyan secondary schools, I openly expressed that I believed in Creation as recorded in the Bible, and this strengthened my students’ faith.
- Being Honest. Whenever teachers make promises to their classes, they should keep them. When they fail to keep one, they should acknowledge it and try to make up for it. This helps students see how to deal with their own shortcomings.
- Dressing appropriately. White contends that while the teacher’s clothing should be modest and simple, it should be of a good quality suited for service.
- Using social media tastefully. Teachers should be wary about mixing on social media with their students. They should also be mindful about what is on their personal accounts.
- Mingling at potlucks. Teachers should have meals with students and celebrate their time together. Such forums can also encourage healthy eating.
- Establishing organization and punctuality. Teachers should be punctual and adequately prepared to teach. This makes the teacher more effective in delivering the subject matter.
- Providing guidance. White affirms that teachers occupy the position of guides and instructors for the youth in molding their minds and character. Continuous guidance and counseling can be critically valuable for students.
- Mentoring and leading. Students learn by seeing their teacher take charge and successfully lead them while providing worthwhile information and encouraging them.
- Modeling an uplifting character and moral values. Teachers should display behaviors that reflect such moral values as fairness, kindness, honesty, and respect.
- Upholding the art of worship. Teachers should actively engage in worship activities with students.
In summary, teachers are role models for their students when they provides real examples and guidance. We as educators should ensure that we model roles that students would want to emulate.