More Than Just a Teacher

Between my Wife, Sister, and Me we have a total of over 100 years in Education that ranges from Kindergarten to Post Graduate School students. Our formal education embodies 7 college degrees, mostly related to Education. As you might expect when we all would get together through the years, there would be a WHOLE LOT of stories about the students we served. Funny, Inspiring, Heart Breaking would represent the different tones of those conversations. I believe it is accurate to say I have been exposed, both personally and through family, to a very wide range of educational experiences from both the Student and Teacher perspectives.

In holding a variety of roles over a 44-year career in Higher Education as well in just general conversation, a theme I would often hear would be something along the lines of
“I Am Just A Teacher”
Well excuse me, but ANY Teacher, no matter at what level or in what setting that is WORTHY of that Title is WAY MORE than “just” one thing.
I spent a good bit of time as Director of Professional Development for a College with 950+ employees. The title is a Fancy Term for Teach the Teachers/Staff. Over the years my classroom audience ranged from aspiring GED students to long time Ph.D. holders. The topics they were studying or in some cases had mastered, ranged from Agriculture to Zoology. In other words, a Whole Gauntlet of subjects.
The Educators I admired the most, both in Public and Proprietary settings were those who embraced the WHOLE role and scope of teaching. It was so much more than simply being an Information Giver. It was to engage and to encourage those in the audience. To make it relevant to the attendees. Not to just “cover” the material but to explain it in a manner that helped the students embrace and utilize the information, either personally, professionally, or both.
In my judgment being an Effective Teacher meant “wearing the hat” of Career Counselor, Mentor, Advocate, Listening Ear, etc. In one phrase it meant Being Engaged on Multiple Levels.
I recognize some readers will “shy away” from some/all of the above roles. And I respect that. If being a Conveyor of Information is all you desire to do, I would ask that you do it well, using proven teaching methods appropriate for your Target Audience.
But if you want to really “wear the hat” of being more, I respectfully ask that you consider the above thoughts carefully.
Will ALL your students accept these multiple level offers? NO WAY. I had as many students SWEAR AT ME as I did those who SWORE BY ME. And that was their choice to make. All these years later, some of those students that I was able to “reach at a deeper level” still call on me for advice and counsel. And some of them did FAR Better than either of us could have imagined when they began the journey. It is an honor to be a small part of their Success.
The desire to earn the title of something more than just a teacher was an honorable effort. And I can say without apology or hesitation that the Journey was worth it in terms of both Professional Impact and Personal Satisfaction in regards to that aspect of my Career.