My parents brought me up to say “please” and “thank you” all the time. I insist on this with my own children as well as with my students. I also prefer to say “You’re welcome,” instead of “No problem.” But I really I love the French response, “avec plaisir,” which means “with pleasure.”
Have you ever been to Chick-Fil-A? When you thank any of their employees, they say, “It’s my pleasure.” Apparently at Chick-Fil-A University (or whatever they name their training program), all employees are instructed to respond in that manner. The first time I ever went to Chick-Fil-A, it was almost a shock to hear, because most people in customer service roles usually mumble “no problem,” if anything at all.
In a previous post, I Am A Teacher, I wrote about how happy teaching makes me, and how no other career opportunity has filled me with such satisfaction. This morning, while on front door duty, I held the door for all my students as they walked through. While saying good morning as they entered, one student thanked me for holding the door. I responded with, “It’s my pleasure.”
And then I thought… my whole job is “my pleasure!” I love teaching kids. I love watching their faces light up when they are excited about learning. Some days are just phenomenal. Some days are downright exhausting. But I wouldn’t teach if I didn’t love it… and because I love it, I want to be the best teacher I can be.
- I don’t teach for summers off. My summers are filled with workshops, classes, and conferences… more learning to be a better teacher.
- I don’t teach to show off how much I know. It’s not a power trip. I’m not the sage on the stage in my classroom. Every day, my kids teach me something new. We are learning together!
- I teach because I love to learn and love to help others learn!
As we listen to the pundits rail on and on about bad teachers and burnt-out teachers, I think it’s important that we stand up and make a case for all the amazing teachers out there. My kids have had some truly incredible teachers. I have had inspirational teachers… those that have forced me to crawl out of my comfort level and really stretch myself… and I still have those teachers in the workshops and classes I continue to take.
So, are you listening Oprah? Bill Gates? Michelle Rhee? I believe there are more of us who are dedicated to our students than not. I believe there are circumstances in children’s lives that can’t be solved by threatening teachers to raise test scores. I believe that test scores show a microscopic view of what a child knows and is able to do ON THAT DAY AND THAT SPECIFIC TIME.
Want to improve education in the United States? Stop the incessant testing of our children. Who would want to go to school to be tested and tested? Empower teachers to help students learn and be creative… and think critically… and solve problems.
If you agree with anything in this post… and even if you don’t… please add a comment about a great teacher who is teaching right now. We need to fight the bad press with some good press.
Thanks for reading. To those parents who trust me with their children: thank you for your brilliant, creative, funny, and wonderful kids! It’s my pleasure to be their teacher.
Edit: P.S. My next post will list all the names from the comments, as well as your accolades!
A teacher that needs to be noticed is Brent Coley —
He is encouraging his students to think daily and is showcasing their work for others to see.
He is encouraging his students to succeed by creating studycasts for their review before tests.
He is encouraging his students to share what they have learned by creating coleycasts which then can be used by other classrooms around the world.
He is encouraging his parents/fellowteachers/peers to keep in touch with him by providing a variety of ways to contact him.
He is encouraging other teachers by sharing what is is doing and how to do it. Plus, shares his resources freely.
His #1 goal is the success of each and every one of his students……individually and as a class.
He is a teacher to be watched. He is a teacher to be emulated. He is a teacher we should clone.
Wow, Jen! I hope he gets to see your comment! I don’t think a lot of teachers know how good they are. It’s too easy to complain about the ones who aren’t that great.
Thanks so much for your comment!!
Teaching is a pleasure for those who approach it with your attitude. That attitude is contagious and pretty soon students start to remember that learning is a pleasure. I couldn’t agree more, there are many, many exceptional teachers that outweigh those who may have chosen the wrong profession.
Clearly we aren’t telling those stories enough. Those are the stories that should be in the local papers, on the local news stations. Those are the stories that need to be highlighted in the community. In every profession there are those that aren’t good at their jobs. But in education I think that this tends to be the exception and not the rule. What we have more of is educators who aren’t adequately supported, working in a system that doesn’t really value learning. That can be exhausting for anyone!
So here are just a few of the amazing teachers I have had the pleasure of working with:
Kerry- currently battling breast cancer (again) after being cancer free for 21 years. She takes the time to know each of her students personally. When she talks to her students she immediately drops to their level. She celebrates everyone of their successes and cheers them on when they are stumbling. Everything she does with the students is a learning adventure. She doesn’t settle for status quo.
Matthew- constantly challenges his students thinking. He doesn’t let them get away with the easy one word answer. He makes them question their beliefs and think critically. He helps them break free of the robot mentality and causes them to be real thinkers.
Susan- A P.E. teacher who believes that every student can shine and should try their best regardless of their athletic ability. She helps those kids who aren’t athletic feel valuable and encourages them to try everything. She celebrates them right where they are.
Karen- a librarian with a real passion for helping students discover that they love reading. She spends hours with them to discover their passions and interests so she can recommend a book they will love.
Christa- an art teacher that helps every student see the world through the eyes of an artist. She breaks down art into manageable pieces so that every single student feels success.
My list could go on and on but you get the point. Great teachers are everywhere….how are you (pundits) using them?
Thanks for the response, Kelly, and also for sharing the names and stories of all those great teachers! I’m going to list them all in my next blog post. 🙂
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I am drawn immediately to Heather Foster…a 3rd grade teacher here in town…she is able to encourage, challenge and nurture students at all levels in her room. Students who have had her previous years will say, yeah, I am in the Foster Family, and that is how they feel. They are free to experiment, reach, think and learn in her room. Mistakes are avenues to continue the learning and are celebrated. Each student is really motivated to do his/her best…
As a parent, I want her cloned…I want each child to have a chance to have a teacher who loves her job and loves them. The investment in each child is obvious to everyone around.
Mary Anne: thanks so much for sharing this story about Heather! She SHOULD be cloned! 😉 I know a few teachers like that myself, and I’ll be sharing their names and stories in my next blog post… as well as all the teachers here in the comments!
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Great post! I personally am feeling pretty frustrated with all the teacher bashing so I highly enjoyed your piece.
My first year teaching I was fortunate enough to work with Gwen Baccus who with over 30 years of experience could work wonders with first graders. She had them writing amazing sentences, learning fractions, and one student who entered and won a speech competition. I learned a lot from her and her students were better people for having her.
I love the positive attitude. I am not sure if this approach will work but I have to think is still the better road to take.
People ask me all the time why I do what I do. I have moved around 7 times in 19 years ( The Jew Day School movement is just that a movement) I answer them I love doing what I do. One of my best moments as a teacher was when I found out that a former student is now teaching in one of the school where I taught. Yes I have students old enough to be teachers.
She told me that I inspired her to go inot teaching. She remembers coming to my house for Chanukah and other times.
The fact that we all can have an impact on the lives of our students is what I love about teaching.