At the start of this year, my daughter’s teacher sent home a survey asking us to describe our child, her strengths, needs, etc. like many teachers do. Among all of the questions asked, one really struck me. She asked: “What type of teacher motivates your child?” I had to think about that one and actually asked my daughter (4th grade) this question in one of our car rides, and she said all of the usual descriptors – fun, awesome, kind, etc. (and her teacher is all of those things and more) but then she added protective. I thought that was an interesting word from a kid’s perspective. She could not really elaborate beyond the organization needed to participate in a fire drill, but perhaps the word speaks for itself. I love that description for a teacher – protective. It can mean so much – protective of their hearts, their friendships, their learning time, their passions, and most importantly their potential, etc. It also suggests a power and influence that teachers have with their students and that students want and need from their teachers.
I share that story because of comments I hear from teachers about how teachers are feeling a lack of control about their work, and I certainly understand some of those feelings. However, don’t give your power away – teachers have so much under their influence as they work with children every day. Yes we have state standards we need to address and those have been created for us, but how we go about teaching those standards is in our hands. We are working hard to truly unpack and understand these standards to create a curriculum that enhances learning for students, that provides a space for responsive teaching for different learning needs and styles, that respects teachers’ knowledge and skills and students’ learning, that provides multiple resources to support teaching and learning, and that offers multiple ways to assess student learning.
The work teachers do is valued. Teachers’ contributions to the kids they teach and their families are powerful. Think about the number of students teachers teach each day, each year. Teachers touch children’s lives with every decision they make, conversation they have, and lesson they teach. Teachers are protective!