Human Connection: The Most Important Thing About Teaching

By Katey McPherson
Adjunct Faculty, College of Education 

teacher with arm around student

Teaching and learning have always been embedded in my DNA.

From a young age, I found myself sitting in my mom’s high school French classroom, watching my dad in the courtroom and observing my stepmother lift families through social work in the depths of Detroit public schools. There was not much conversation about a career path. It just was sort of understood in my mind.

I would teach.

As the years go by, I marvel at the continued spirit of teachers to keep on keeping on. As buzz words come and go, policies and curriculum initiatives change, teachers are still standing. Standing tall, and standing proud, of the relevance and relationships they bring to our children.

Teachers who invest in their students’ intrinsic and social as well as emotional wealth not only help their students become well-adjusted, but they also undoubtedly witness their students’ academic success. If the state- or district-mandated assessments do not reveal that success, they design authentic or alternate assessments to capture and document their students’ academic achievements.

When you look at the three R’s (rigor, relevance and relationships), relationships are key in having an impact on students. It is the human connection that says, “You are important to me.” It is how hard your teachers pushed you to become who you are today. How they made you feel. How they allowed you to be you while pushing you to stretch and grow. And how they never, ever, gave up on you.

And, because of the primacy of relationships, students will lean into difficult tasks. They will work and study hard because men and women they admire are asking them to do so. They will take chances and be willing to fail because they know their teachers will support and love them no matter the outcome. They will receive critical feedback and correction because they know their teachers have their best interest at heart. They will open their hearts and minds to new possibilities and passions with an adventurous, optimistic spirit. They will push through the parts of school that are rigorous.

It is amazing what a student, when well known and well loved, will do.

So, take a listen to why we teach.

Rita Pierson nails what it is like to be a teacher and why human connection is the single most important factor in the equation.

As the school year comes to an end, amidst the gifts, cookies, cards and flowers, remember to also tell you teachers thank you. And be specific! Their bucket needs filling, too.

Grand Canyon University prepares students to be highly effective educators through their mission to learn, lead and serve. Find out more about the College of Education by visiting our website or filling out the Request More Information button on the top of the page.

More About Katey:

Katey McPherson is a former secondary school administrator and co-author of “Why Teens Fail: What to Fix.” She has been an educator for 19 years, serving as a secondary school teacher, middle school guidance counselor and assistant principal. She is also the founder of the S.H.E. Forum (Sharing Healthy Experiences), serving teens and their families, and co-founder of the bullying prevention program, BE THE ONE. She has presented at major conferences throughout the U.S. and currently serves as a cadre supervisor of student practitioners at Rio Salado Community College as well as adjunct faculty at Grand Canyon University and Arizona State University in the educational administration and leadership program. Katey holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and secondary education from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from Arizona State University.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.