Survey: Teachers Have Big Impact on Students’ Lives

Next to immediate family, teachers have the most impact on people’s lives as they grow up, according to a survey by the ING Foundation.

The survey also found a large majority (88 percent) of Americans said they had a teacher who had a “significant positive impact” on their life, and 98 percent said they believe that a good teacher can change the course of a student’s life.

“As our research shows, effective teachers can have a significant influence on their students’ lives, yet their efforts are generally under-appreciated,” said Rhonda Mims, president of the ING Foundation.

Teachers are among the public employees who have come under attack in recent months and have been targeted for massive layoffs by extremist Republican state and local lawmakers. Those attacking teachers should take a look at the ING poll: Fully 83 percent of those surveyed said they had a teacher who helped build their confidence and self-esteem, while 79 percent say they had a teacher who encouraged them to pursue their dreams. Another 75 percent said a teacher served as a mentor or role model, and 54 percent said that a teacher helped them through a tough time.

The survey also revealed:

  • Some 87 percent of Americans wish they had told their best teachers how much they appreciated their efforts.
  • Teachers are perceived as receiving less gratitude than social workers, nurses, clergy or doctors.
  • A whopping 94 percent of Americans agree that we need to do more to recognize our good teachers.

“It’s an unbelievable testament to the profession that Americans so resoundingly believe in a teacher’s ability to transform lives,” Mims said.

Whether sending a student down a path they hadn’t considered or simply ensuring them they are ready for the road ahead, a teacher’s impact can be profound and enduring.

The survey was conducted in conjunction with the annual National Teacher of the Year competition. To learn more, click here.