OKTOY Blog: The Greatest Influence

The greatest influence on a child’s learning is his relationship with his teacher. Relationships must be at the core of our teaching. If a child is able to trust the teacher, then he will risk failing in front of her. He will try again knowing that the teacher wants beyond the best for every student. As teachers, we must embrace this above curriculum. In some small part we are responsible to recreate our successful selves, creating a future generation of co-workers, partners, teachers and parents. If it comes between being right and being kind, always choose kind. If a lesson is still not learned, we can always go back later to be right.

Peter Markes, 2014 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, attends a ceremony.

The greatest influence on a child’s learning is her peer influence. As I watch my own boys grow older, I increasingly see great truth here. It’s not that all they learn is from their peers, but the greatest amount of reinforcement comes from those who are of like mind and maturity. In this regard, teachers and parents alike must be vigilant in our relationships with our children, redoubling awareness of the choices our children make. Paradoxically, we must also find the balance to delicately step aside, allowing them to react to their own successes and grow from their own failures.

The greatest influence on a child’s learning is the teachers’ ability to forge strong relationships with each other. A healthy school culture, starting from lead administrators to teachers and support staff, allows each great mind to expand exponentially throughout a building. Collaborative learning communities have a great success in allowing innovative new teachers to renew ideas in practiced veterans, while the seasoned pros mentor the freshmen to succeed and remain in the field. Our kids reap a benefit that they may not even be aware is taking place.

The greatest influence on a child’s learning is his support in the home. I do not assign great amounts of homework on the premise that “if we can get it done in class, let’s.” However, I am heavily reliant on parent support for our children to practice and return to school ready to learn. Without parents engaging in conversation about the school day with their child, without them supporting healthy sleep, eating and brain habits, then my few hours of face-time in the schoolhouse are grossly defeated by a vacuum of support. As the teacher, I feel compelled to give parents a reason to support their child, to send home an excited student whom they can’t help but support.

The greatest influence on a child’s learning is the relationship. We can create feelings of success and hunger for learning through relationships. We can make facts and formulas relevant by relating stories, making our learning a social experience that inspires curiosity and continued self-exploration. I am hopeful that a focus on relationships permeates our day, replenishing every teacher, administrator, parent or friend with the hope that we are the greatest influence.


Peter Markes

2014 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year

Twitter @PeterMarkes





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Last updated on April 29, 2014