“I’m just a teacher” – a comment that I think nearly every educator has made at some point in their career. I know I have made it more than once. As educators we make the comment even though we know how complex teaching is, the challenges involved and the stress and pressure that comes with accepting the role of a teacher. Not everyone can be or would want to be a teacher but yet as a profession we still downplay the role and it’s impact.
This is even though over 5.2 million people have watched Taylor Mali’s video of his poem “What do teachers make?”. Many of those 5.2 million would actually be teachers!
So WHY do we choose to utter the words “I’m just a teacher” when faced with the question what do you do? When receiving praise for the amazing job majority of teachers do or when asked to share something incredible they are doing in their classroom?
My personal opinion it is the perception of teachers and status in society that has been reinforced through many media outlets and political agendas. Education being used as a political football and the subsequent effect of the headline grabs sees teachers having to defend what they do. The use of high stakes data like NAPLAN and PISA by media outlets to create league tables, results in pressure from education systems, schools and parents that flows through to those in the trenches – teachers.
Don’t get me started with how old comments like “you are always on holidays” and “you only work 9 till 3” get!
As educators we need to be the biggest advocates for the importance of teaching and how multi-faceted the profession is. Teachers are faced with many challenges on a daily basis and pressure from multiple angles but there aren’t many jobs more rewarding.
Teachers know the rewards that happen between the “four walls of the classroom” far outweigh any extrinsic reward. There are not many professions where you can literally change the life of another human! How amazing is it to see a young person learn to read, discover a love of learning and develop the confidence and resilience to overcome challenges life presents.
What am I doing to advocate for the teaching profession I hear you ask…
I never allow like “I’m just a teacher” or “I’m only a teacher aide” go unchecked. I reinforce that there is no JUST about it. This has then led me to create the podcast Just A Teacher.
A podcast that aims to shine a light on the people who accept the responsibility of being a teacher. Explore why someone would want to become a teacher, how teaching really is a profession where you never stop learning, examine the challenges faced and most importantly share the many successes experienced. I am hoping there will plenty of insights, affirmations and take aways for not just people in education but everyone across our society.
Click here to listen to the first episode of Just A Teacher podcast