Saturday, 2 May 2015

I Am a Teacher

What does it mean to be a teacher? 

I read an article The Teachers by Sarah Blaine this week and it is something worth sharing with the non-teaching people in your life. She really makes a convincing argument that people outside of the profession really do not understand it.

However, when I was reading her article, I couldn't help but wonder - do we, the education community really - holistically - understand our profession? 

Over the past few weeks I have been a part of some conversations that have got me thinking. These conversations in combination with all of the great reading I have been doing under #makeschooldifferent (started by @mcleod) have made it obvious that as educators, we are perceptive about the challenges facing education today. My sister, @szwildcat, aptly questioned if It is Ok for Anger to Drive Change and then encouraged  Ideas and Action (after the Anger). Although action is needed - I still have so many questions.

What I have been wondering lately is how teachers and administrators can develop systems thinking whilst they are segregated by grade, division or subject? How does a high school English teacher understand how students learn to read for example?

My own journey in education has not been typical. After completing my I/S English/History degree, I wholeheartedly expected to teach high school English and Social Studies for the remainder of my career. I envisioned I would teach, maybe coach some rowing, and inspire young minds to embrace literature the way I had been by my teachers. Life doesn't always mimic our plans - and my journey has been an adventure so far.

Hired as a 7/8 teacher in 2003, I fell in love with the integrated nature of the elementary curriculum. By the time I moved and switched school boards I saw myself as an elementary teacher. Always having had a strength in math, I found myself drawn to any pd around mathematics teaching from very early on in my career. Eventually this lead to accepting a position as a system numeracy coach and four years later to the K-12 numeracy consultant. Recently, after much internal debate, I returned to the classroom, accepting a position in an a ELKP classroom.  The first thing I needed to do was learn how to teach children how to read.

In my journey, I have noticed that secondary teachers often identify with a teaching subject while elementary teachers identify with a division or grade. How do we develop systems thinking amidst this often self-segregating profession? 

I am a teacher. I am not a grade. I am not a division. I am not a subject. How about you?

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