Teachers today have many names; we are probably called many names too, but what I am talking about are all the roles we have as teachers. Teaching is a huge job, and we are called to be many things for many people.
One of our names is Believer. Just like the song says, “Don’t stop believin’”, and we don’t. We believe in children, and their inner power to grow and change. We look at mistakes as opportunities, and through a growth mind set, help secure children on the path to learning. We are optimists; we are working with the future every day. We believe in what we do. We work tirelessly, and we are making progress in education. The common core standards are a good step toward preparing children to be ready for the future. We are closing gaps. It is slow work. It is not as fast as we would like. It is challenging work, but we are making progress. We believe in what we do, and believe in the children we teach.
Another name we like to be called is Professional. It is a hard time to be a teacher. New things are coming at us left and right. Honestly it feels like trying to drink out of a fire hose, but we know that high standards and effective teachers are good things. Teachers are more influential than anything else in a classroom. Programs do not teach; teachers teach. The relationships that we build with the children and their families are vital in creating an atmosphere of learning and will ultimately determine the success or failure of our efforts. An old proverb says, “A child is not a vessel to be filled, but a lamp to be lit.” It is through those relationships that we figure out how to light their passion for learning.
As professionals we must also connect with other educators. We need to be a part of professional organizations. We must talk about ideas with other teachers, build networks for sharing strategies, and use our joined voices to advocate for the children we teach every day.
Research, book studies, professional learning communities, and professional development are part of why we are also called Learner. It is our job to be role-models. Teachers love to learn. Asking questions is part of our DNA. My superintendent says, “When you’re done learning; you’re done.” This precept should go for our personal and professional learning. A couple of weeks ago I started guitar lessons. It is hard to find time to practice. My fingers are peeling, and so far my progress is slow. It is fun, and frustrating at the same time. I think learning something brand new for me, like the guitar, helps me understand my students better. It helps me be a little more empathetic. I love to talk to them about my progress, the hard work it takes, and how it is hard for me to find time to practice — just like they seem to have a hard time finding time to practice their multiplication facts!
Becoming a National Board Certified teacher was one of the most intensive learning experiences of my life. Through that process I learned about my own skill and knowledge as a teacher. The initial process, as well as the renewal, spurred me on as a learner. It validated my practice, contributed to my professional knowledge, but most importantly it help ground me in staying focused on the impact of what I do in the classroom. Teachers need these high level opportunities to grow.
Hello, my name is also Advocate. In and out of the classroom teachers go to great lengths to help the children they teach. You will find them staying after school and weekends, tutoring, sponsoring children, mentoring, and going above and beyond in so many ways. In our community teachers come out to the park every Tuesday to give books to children in the summer to combat the summer slide. Teachers secure donations, order books, and help match the right book with each child that participates. It is exciting to see the enthusiastic response to the books from the children, teachers and families. The message that is sends to the children in our community about the value and importance of books is powerful.
We have many other names, too, but our best name is Teacher. Through our high calling we have the power to impact the future; we have the power to improve self-esteem, open doors to new ideas, and change the course of a child’s life. I cannot think of a better name.
Holly Bloodworth, a teacher at Murray Elementary School (Murray Independent), was named the 2014 Kentucky Teacher of the Year on Oct. 16, 2013. She will be sharing her educational experiences in and outside of the classroom with Kentucky Teacher readers during her year-long reign.