Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

5 Super Powers All Teachers Have

February 23, 2016

Recently, a group of high school students in Kentucky asked Bill and Melinda Gates: If you could have one superpower, what would it be? This question and their answers—more time and more energy—inspired the focus for Bill and Melinda’s annual letter, which was released today.

As Bill and Melinda said in their letter, “Dreaming about whether you would want to read minds, see through walls, or have superhuman strength may sound silly, but it actually gets to the heart of what really matters in your life.”

Every single day, I am inspired by the people I meet who do extraordinary things to improve the world. Their everyday acts and sacrifices are truly superhuman, and in no profession is this more evident than teaching.

I’m certainly not the first person to call teachers superheroes. But I want to call out some of the things teachers do that, all told, have an impact on par with superheroes. 

So join me in celebrating five superpowers of teachers.

1. Ability to See Into the Future

Teachers see potential in each and every student. They believe all young people can succeed. Think back to your favorite teacher growing up. Chances are they’re so memorable because they believed in you and your abilities. It’s that ability to look into the future and see college, a well-paying job, and more that makes us remember our favorite teachers long after graduation.

2. Never-ending Elasticity

Teachers are stretched in so many directions. Yet, somehow, they manage to do it all—create engaging lessons, spend time with parents, engage one-on-one with students, and collaborate with other teachers. And that’s just a few of the many things teachers do in a day! Their flexibility—or elasticity—helps empower students across the country.

3. Juggling Multiple Roles

Just as Clark Kent juggles his “regular” life with his superhero persona, teachers take on a number of roles in the classroom. They are instructors, mentors, friends, and leaders to their colleagues. What makes this so incredible is that teachers have to put on different faces and bring very different strengths in each role.

4. Power of Creativity

Students can be a challenge to engage. If they don’t feel challenged or see how concepts connect to their lives, it can be hard to combat their boredom. I’m constantly struck by the diverse, creative ways teachers engage their students. I’ve seen teachers use poetry to teach math, or incorporate pop culture into history or political lessons to connect with students.

One of my favorites was watching a math teacher use rap to express and teach math concepts. It was engaging, catchy, and you could see the students loved it—using a medium that the students found interesting and relevant. Great teachers make classrooms engaging, exciting, and fun.

5. Heart of Wonder Woman and Superman

Why do teachers teach? The top answer in a Scholastic survey was to make a difference in students’ lives. Some superheroes are driven by compassion, and bring the amazing power of heart—mixed with strength—to the profession. Teachers save people in real life.

These are just five of the amazing superpowers that I believe teachers possess. What do you wish were your superpowers? What do you wish you could do for the good of others? Post your thoughts on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #superpowerforgood.

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