Joanna Howerton Stevens

Joanna Howerton Stevens

One of my favorite sounds of fall is hearing “It’s football time in the Bluegrass” blared from the speakers at Commonwealth Stadium.   Cheering for the University of Kentucky football team is a treasured pastime that I have enjoyed since I was a little girl going to games with my family.   I have witnessed huge victories and field rushing moments, but I have also observed heartbreaking losses and huge blowouts.

Not only does fall usher in football season, but it also brings the beginning of another school year. The little girl that enjoyed cheering “Go Big Blue” at football games was also eager to buy new school supplies and meet her new teacher. As a teacher, I now look forward to decorating my room and greeting my students each August.

While the air raid siren at Commonwealth Stadium does not sound like the school bell at Lincoln County High School and concession stand food is a little different than cafeteria food, there are some similarities between the roles of a teacher and a football game. Teachers wear many hats, or rather helmets, in the classroom.

As a teacher, you are the coach. You equip your team with the necessary skills to obtain success. A football coach and a classroom teacher are both trying to maximize the output of their roster. A coach scouts an opponent and creates a game plan that should ensure a victory. A teacher studies their curriculum and assessments to develop lesson plans that should ensure student success.   A coach creates plays based on their current lineup and available roster. A teacher designs lessons based on the needs of each student in their classroom.

As a teacher, you are the quarterback. You must think quickly on your feet. A quarterback has the playbook memorized just like a teacher is outfitted with instructional strategies ready to execute. The quarterback must react to the defense of the opposing team quickly. Likewise, a teacher must react to students’ responses during a lesson and alter their lesson plans as necessary. Quarterbacks must adapt to loud crowd environments and hindering weather conditions. Teachers must be flexible and adapt to schedule changes, classroom interruptions, and other unplanned distractions.

As a teacher, you are the offensive line.   The offensive line must work together as one unit on the field in order for the entire team to have success. Teachers must work cohesively with their colleagues. By collaborating with fellow educators, teachers continue to innovate and incorporate new ideas into their classroom to meet the demanding and ever changing needs of today’s students.

As a teacher, you are the cheerleader. Cheerleaders must perform in rain or shine, in victory or defeat. Students depend on teachers through the ups and downs, the successes and the disappointments. Teachers build valuable relationships with our students. Our students rely on our encouragement and support in all of their activities. Whether we are cheering for our students to master the quadratic formula or celebrating after a touchdown pass, it is important that our students know that we believe in them and we are proud of them. We want our students to be aware that we are pleased with their accomplishments in the math classroom, in their extra-curricular activities, and in their future endeavors.

A teacher must be equipped to wear each helmet at anytime whether they are in the classroom or cheering in the football stands. From coach to quarterback to offensive line to cheerleader. Each helmet is essential and important to ensure that we have a winning school year. Go team!

Joanna Howerton Stevens, a mathematics teacher Lincoln County High School, was named the 2014 High School Teacher of the Year on October 16, 2013. She will write occasional columns for Kentucky Teacher during her year-long reign.