Becoming an educator requires particular knowledge, skills, and dispositions. In order for applicants to shine in an interview or screening, they must have the ability to articulate what they know and believe about the profession. As with any career, becoming a teacher requires a particular skill base which is learned throughout a program of study. Upon leaving a program, a preservice teacher has everything necessary in order to be successful...right? Surely no education program would produce ill prepared educators who will shortly be connecting with children and families...right?
The programs of study are a huge part of becoming an educator, but the heart of a teacher is there long before learning pedagogy.The most important trait of a teacher is something that cannot be taught. No skill set, training, degree, or experience will compensate for this vital part which makes a teacher whole. I am speaking of the heart. The heart of a teacher is different from other hearts. (By the way, this is not based on research, but on my own heart and soul, biblical views on having a purpose, and experience in the field of education.) A teacher's heart has the capacity to hold an endless amount of children within it, knowing each one individually. Call it a superpower of sorts--the ability to love unconditionally from year to year, and use the phrase, "My Kids" with 100% investment.
I work alongside some amazing teachers each day, and I continue to be blown away by their dedication, concern, and committment. There are moments where I envy educators who are in a classroom teacher position, because I miss it terribly. The teacher is the number one contributing factor in the amount of success a child will experience at school. The classroom is where "the rubber hits the road", where the magic happens, where the impact is forever made. As a principal, I have moments where I painfully miss the classroom family setting and having "my own kids". I am then reminded that in this role I have the incredible opportunity to observe the magic throughout my school, and to celebrate it daily. What a gift and a blessing that is.
Teachers have a thankless job, one where they fill many voids in the lives of children. They serve as parent, caregiver, nurse, hugger, provider, and a gateway to hope. Teachers are often the only encourager in childrens' lives; the only person who believes in them and what they can be. They have a huge responsibility to be everything for certain children. Some may consider that a huge burden. I see it as an incredible opportunity.
The following is an email sent to my school family by one of its own. It refers to how our dispositions directly affect kids (A little background...our school family read The Energy Bus, by Jon Gordon). I think this sums up the hearts of our teachers:
I had some extensive time sitting in the woods this weekend, turkey hunting, and hope you all don't care if I share this with you...You all know I'm not the emotional type. Better yet, I'm the "find something funny in an awkward situation" type! I found myself this weekend to be the "a lot of thinking type." While I sat this weekend doing everything I could to put school out of my mind, I always came back to it. This is the downhill slide for us, and with that, comes major stress. I couldn't help thinking about all that I had to do and how I needed to be able to get myself ready. And then, I couldn't help but think about the kids. And how I'm sure this would affect them. So many things started racing through my mind...my childhood was never like some of these kids...I've got to get my vibe right....I can't let them down. I know we all say that we have no idea what these kids go home to, but really think about it...we don't! We have to be those people! I don't care if they have 15 of those people or no one, let us be the one! I am not perfect and don't give100% every day...that's real life! In these last 20 something days, let's give it our all, nothing but positive vibes and encouragement, leave the negativity and stress behind, thank someone that has helped you this year, enjoy each other, hug a kid, ask for help, smile, and make our school the best in the district! Say what you want about this email, but my bus just picked up a little extra gas!~Lisa Hardage, Kindergarten Teacher at Central Elementary