Great Teachers Matter (and are Essential to Our Learning Experience)

“Teachers really impact a person's life. It's important to learn not only from a book, but from a person and their experiences.” - Carolyn, College Student

My name is Gabriela Trinidad and I am a San Francisco native. I recently graduated from Mercy High School in May and will be attending Albion College in Michigan this fall. As part of my 4-week summer internship with Landed, I created a student survey to collect data about how students’ lives are impacted by teachers in and out of the classroom.

I sent my survey to over 80 current and former students at schools around California, including Mercy High School, Archbishop Riordan High School, Holy Names School of Oakland, Godinez Fundamental High School in Los Angeles, and Westmoor High School. Over 45 students responded.

One of the most important things I am taking away from this internship and project is how much students are impacted by their favorite teachers beyond the classroom.

I have had a handful of impactful teachers in my academic career and once, one of my teachers had to leave because the commute to school was too difficult. He used to teach 7th grade English at a Catholic elementary school in Glen Park. Finding affordable housing in the city was almost impossible for him and his family - with a newborn baby, the commute was too much of a hassle. He was not able to return the following school year and found a job closer to home in Santa Cruz. This teacher taught me to love English and reading and he’s the reason why I took advanced courses in this subject throughout high school.

Now that I am partnering with Landed, it is easier to understand the problem that teachers face and why it is so important to keep good teachers local. My past experiences taught me that great teachers not only cared deeply about my learning, but also me as a person. I was a student with a name and a face, not just a student ID number on a paper. They were always there for me, whether it was after school for tutoring or at my sports games during the school year.

What makes a great teacher?

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What do students want the most?

In order for teachers to be able to support students in and out of the classroom - by watching their sports games, performances, and being available for tutoring or club activities, for example - they have to be able to stay after school. However, when they have to catch a train, bus or a make a long drive home, they are often unable to stay. Long commutes take away from the time the teacher can be present at school.

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Even though students believe that they can do all the work on their own and do not need to visit a teacher for help, that visit can make a difference in your grade. I learned this from a personal experience: if I had asked my English teacher to review my paper before turning it in, I may have gotten a higher grade.

What do students think when teachers have to leave due to housing costs?

When a good teacher has to leave their job because they can’t afford housing nearby and are replaced by under-qualified substitute teachers, students are the ones most impacted by this.

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Having a good relationship with one’s teacher allows students to gain confidence in class, discover a passion for different subjects, stay focused, and understand subjects better. When teachers are present in a student’s after school life, the student tends to gain more confidence in the teacher and makes them less shy to ask questions or reach out if they are having problems.

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Through my internship and projects I have realized how difficult it is for teachers to find affordable housing in the Bay Area and how important it is to keep them local. Teachers make a huge impact on students’ lives both in and out of the classroom, helping excel in their studies and achieve their goals.