You’re more than a teacher

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Written by Dolores Cormier-Zenon

As I pause to reflect and plan, I’m always thinking about how I can make learning fun and engaging for my students. For hours, sometimes days, I ponder, question, research, and prepare for something I have the privilege of doing every day: Teaching.

Watching my student’s excitement when they grasp a new concept or overcome a challenge brings me joy, as I know it does for others. We are humble and often downplay our job by saying, “I’m just a teacher.” As teachers, we are inspiring and providing opportunities for children to strive to achieve their dreams – but we rarely give ourselves credit for it.

Teachers spend countless hours away from their families to motivate each and every child in their care to do their very best. Teachers spend the majority of their time doing in-depth planning and research, seeking out opportunities for students, encouraging students to empower ownership of their learning, and encouraging each and every one of them find and embrace their voice. This isn’t to mention the time spent grading papers and planning lessons.

Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines a teacher as an “educator, tutor, instructor.” As a verb, a teacher is defined as “one who teaches, especially one whose occupation is to instruct.” Both definitions are similar in that they are defining a teacher as an educator and instructor. Oxford Dictionary puts it this way: “[A] teacher imparts knowledge to or instruct [someone] as to how to do something, give information, cause someone to learn or understand by example or experience; encourage.”

Teachers must use effective, reflective planning to deliver enriching meaningful lessons to students every day. Ever since I entered my first classroom, I have lived and breathed teaching and learning. I was inspired to become a teacher when I observed other teachers making magic in their classrooms and getting their students excited about learning. The skill and savvy these teachers displayed when delivering a lesson was captivating and transformative. I wanted to emulate them. I could see what a phenomenal opportunity teaching offered to develop young minds.

So I ask you, Are we “just teachers” or are we molders of future leaders? Are we “just teachers” or molders of doctors, lawyers, and social workers? Are we “just teachers” or the profession that creates all others?

Can you think of a better way to contribute and shape our society? Every student has an opportunity to realize and embrace an amazing future because of a teacher. Every teacher has an opportunity to inspire greatness in each and every student, regardless of ZIP code or circumstance. Can you think of any other profession that makes more of a positive difference in the life of a child?

Dolores Cormier-Zenon is an ASCD board member and the co-founder and President of the Patricia Colbert-Cormier Education Foundation. She serves as president of the Louisiana National Board Certified Teacher Network. Zenon has spent more than 20 years in education serving in various capacities, delivering and supporting classroom instruction along the K-12 continuum. She espouses the belief that all children deserve to receive an exceptional education in every ZIP code no matter their circumstance.

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