The actual definition of teacher is this: one whose occupation is to instruct. Speaking as a teacher, daughter of a teacher, and friend to many teachers, this definition falls depressingly short. That being said, I have to give good ol’ Webster the benefit of the doubt as the actual definition of “teacher” wouldn’t fit nicely onto a dictionary page. Here are 10 reasons why the word teacher shouldn’t exist:
1. A Teacher is also a Mentor:
Good teachers don’t just teach material, they teach life, and live by example. They don’t just do their jobs, they are passionate about learning, students, and helping students learn. There is one teacher in particular that will always stand out to me as an example of this: My 6th grade teacher, Mr. Madison. He taught Social Studies, but he knew Social Studies was about more than just our history. After the Columbine shootings, he scrapped his entire lesson plan that day. We talked about how we felt and what we thought. He respected us as individuals and knew this life experience would teach us far more than the material he had to share. This same teacher also shared with us a story about never making excuses. It was about a boy who didn’t have arms or legs and yet accomplished as much or more than any other able-bodied person. He taught us to persevere and to have strength of character. His occupation was to instruct, but his passion was to inspire.
2. A Teacher is also a Caregiver:
Let’s face it, teachers spend 7-8 hours a day with their students. This is 1/3 of their day. If you count 8 hours of sleep, teachers see students for half of every waking day. If you are a preschool teacher, you may see your students even longer. Teachers wash boo boos, give hugs, offer comfort when a child is sad. They make sure children have something to eat, and a coat if it’s cold. They provide for their students.
3. A Teacher is also a Parent:
For some students, their teachers are more parents to them than their parents are. Sometimes a teacher will fill a space that an absent dad or mom has left. Ask teachers how many times they’ve been called “mom” or “dad” by a student. If you are a teacher, you know what I’m talking about. This is absolutely not a slam on parents. Some of you are very involved and are invaluable to your child’s teacher, more than you know. Still you can’t be with your child all day, and you trust your child’s teacher to guide him or her in your absence.
4. A Teacher is also a Mediator:
Teachers have to mediate conflicts every day amongst a multitude of students. They have to know how to remain neutral, see both perspectives, and help the students resolve their differences in a productive way. Sometimes a teacher must negotiate between the two students to come to a resolution.
5. A Teacher is also a Psychologist:
No not all teachers attended school for several years to earn their PhD in psychology. They are not permitted to counsel you or your child. They are not qualified to diagnose any student’s psychological state. That being said, teachers have to understand their students in order to motivate and develop them. Many teachers have a basic understanding of ADHD, Dyslexia, Learning Disabilities, Autism, Emotional Disabilities and more. Good teachers want to understand the road blocks a child faces so that he or she can overcome them and be more successful. They want to understand the emotional toll these road blocks take in order to improve the child’s self-esteem. In order to do this, a teacher has to attempt to understand each student’s mind and way of thinking.
6. A Teacher is also a Punching Bag:
Sadly this occurs more than you might think. Teachers actually put themselves in harms way in order to help their students. We have heard story after story from a friend of ours that teaches in a special needs class. She has been punched, kicked, bitten, and more from her students. There are preschool teachers that work through this on a daily basis as they show little ones proper social behavior. Teachers in middle and high school will often deal with physical altercations either directed at them or between students. There are numerous scenarios when teachers allow themselves to be abused for the sake of their students.
7. A Teacher is also an ATM:
Due to budgetary constraints in some school districts, teachers will often spend their own money $400-500 per year on behalf of his or her classroom for supplies, materials, teaching resources, and everything else they provide for their students. Every holiday gift, Valentine’s surprise, Friday treat, is paid for by your child’s teacher. Teachers will sometimes spend countless dollars just so that their rooms can look nice for the kids, or they’ll grab some fidget toys for their more restless students. They will create treasure boxes to encourage good behavior. It is estimated that each teacher spends about
8. A Teacher is also a Data Entry Specialist:
Now more than ever teachers are having to track data on their students. As education moves toward a more individualized approach, teachers test students throughout the year, input their benchmark scores, and analyze the scores to determine which objectives need extra focus. Teachers assume this role to make each student’s educational experience more successful.
9. A Teacher is also a Bodyguard:
From 1996-2012 alone, there have been 45 school shootings. During each of those shootings, teachers adhered to the lockdown protocol, turning off the lights, hiding in a dark place away from all the windows. Those teachers had to keep their students safe. They had to remain calm while their hearts beat so hard they almost exploded in their chests. In the Sandy Hook massacre, one teacher died protecting her kids(article here). In these times, teachers show up at work every day to protect their students. Many of your children’s teachers would die for them.
10. A Teacher is also a Teacher: In addition to filling all these roles, a teacher is one whose occupation is to instruct. They relay information to students in order to help them learn. They guide them through each school day, helping them to be successful and doing everything they can to show students a love of learning.
Since it is a time of thanksgiving, take a moment to be thankful for your child’s teacher or teachers. They are much more than those whose occupation is to instruct.
I’ll leave you with this comical insight from Lily Eskelsen Garcia:
Please share what else a teacher is:
Have a great holiday!