Just a teacher…

Yesterday I bumped into someone I hadn’t seen for twenty years and she asked the predictable question: ‘ Are you still teaching?’ I am indeed. And still learning too.

Just a teacher..
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To be fair, she probably visualises a classroom of the sort in which she learned, with a teacher standing at the front droning on, possibly delivering the same lesson as last year and the year before and the fifteen years prior to that. She wouldn’t even begin to understand how much teaching and learning have changed…

She could never imagine the sort of class where students compose raps and create movies to explain their understanding of photosynthesis. She would be amazed to hear that an ‘Aspergian’ student can investigate how Aspergers affects people and get feedback from educators all over the world. She would have no idea that classroom walls can be flattened either, so that learning about other cultures can be enriched by live interactions on Skype with people worldwide. The amount of choice students are given in order to encourage them to take responsibility for their own learning would stun her. Kids didn’t participate in discussions about the goals of education and the relevance of standardized tests, when she went to school!

But more than any of those things.. when she asks if I am still teaching, she cannot possibly have any idea how exciting it is to be part of a community of learners, constantly sharing practice, investigating ideas and exploring new tools to enhance and support our students’ learning. If only she could have attended our professional development day and seen the passion of teachers teaching teachers, she would know better than to ask her question in that slightly disdainful way ever again.

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14 thoughts on “Just a teacher…

  1. Vytheeshwaran Vedagiri

    Great post! So much has changed in such a short duration of time. My grandfather, a math teacher at my native village for the last 51 years, was shocked at how teaching and learning has changed. I got him to observe one of my classes and he felt that he is so unlucky for not being a student of today. :-)

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  2. jfb57

    Although I’ve retired, my involvement in education particulary all the IT stuff etc has given my learning curve a huge kick & it is great! She doesn’t know what she’s missing!

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  3. Rich Cantrell

    Edna, love the post and can relate to every word you have written. Accepting change and looking for the positive benfits are essential for the dynamic teacher of today. I’ve been know to say to my peers, “Yes, I have my rose colored glasses on and things don’t look so bad.” Our counsleor calls them my rosie peepers. The power of the positive is unknown to sooooo many! You touch not only your students with your wisdom but all of us in the field of education. Teach on YOUNG LADY!

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  4. maggieswitz

    You are so right Edna, every day as a teacher I do something new, every year is completely different. I am learning all the time alongside my students.

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  5. DavidD

    I get this a lot as an English teacher – ‘I can do what you do because English is my native language’. The idea persists that subject knowledge is all a teacher needs. Thanks for highlighting why this isn’t so, especially with the great links to blog posts I had missed along the way!

    Next time someone claims anyone can do my job, I’ll direct them to this post!

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  6. Kathleen

    Edna and all, you are right on! True educators are always teaching and learning and enjoying it. I think this post will inspire some of our best to still teach and maybe help those starting out to see the future has great rewards.

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  7. ktenkely

    Teaching has changed so much, I don’t think that the average person truly understands all it means to be a teacher today. It is hard to put into a few words all that happens in the classroom and why it is such a rewarding experience. It is sad that teachers aren’t more respected. It makes me want a reality show so that everyone could get a real look at what it means to be a teacher. Perhaps the view of teaching as a profession would begin to change.

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  8. Ashley

    Teaching has evolved a great deal even since I was a student. I am in my third year of teaching and am learning so much myself. I am always looking for new ways to teach concepts in order to reach all of my students. Differentiation is such an important aspect of teaching, it is hard to imagine teaching all students the same exaxt concept at the same time every day. I agree that teaching is not as valued as it should be. Much more time, effort and preparation goes into it than people realize. What’s great, is that with technology we can collaborate with and reach other teachers going through the same things we are going through. There is so much information available to us and so many opportunities to build our support system in order to continue our learning.

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  9. Nicole Lemire

    It has taken the act of going back to graduate school for my master’s degree to really awaken me to the vast amounts of opportunities there are out there for learners. I think that it is important for teachers to reach beyond their comfort zones to explore new ways of improving student learning. I’m grateful that I didn’t teach for my whole career using only the resources that I got used to. I am very glad that I found your blog and I look forward to reading more of what you share.

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  10. Karen Ganzel

    Teaching is a profession of evolution. With the constant research that goes on in the field, strategies and practices are always changing. We, as teachers, are still students, learning with the change of time. After only 7 years in the classroom, I’m being asked if I am “still” teaching. With the pressures and commitment to the job, many people do not last an entire career. It is becoming more and more difficult to stay in the job. Luckily, coming from generations of educators, I knew the deal before I made the deal. We are in it for the results, not the glory.

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  11. Christine

    And why wouldn’t you be? Effective teachers are a part of the learning community that their students share. I agree that it is a supercharged and rewarding environment to work in, and of course you are still a part of it! The rewards are endless.

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  12. Levi Hatcher

    Excellent post. We are never just a teacher. Like you stated, teaching has changed so much but that helps make it fun. If we just taught the same ole stuff the same ole way for years and years and years, we would get burned out very easily. This change also makes us change. We have to continually learn and grow each and every day.

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  13. Greg Hannon

    What an interesting post Ed. I think just how much we have changed as a school over the last 20 -15 -10 -5-1 years! The manner in which teachers interact with each other, with students, and with parents has changed. I just received a phone call from a parent praising a young man in his second year of teaching. She spoke about his respect shown to her daughter, she spoke at length about her passion for learning and how her young teacher openly learns with his class and she spoke about his kindness towards all students under his care. But what was really interesting was she spoke in glowing terms about how learning had changed since she went to school.
    That is probably why we are still here after so many years!
    Greg

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