Great teachers know their students. Great teachers know the whole child. Great teachers are able to draw out a student’s story. AND, great teachers also reveal who they are to kids.
Dwayne Reed, a Chicago teacher, made a brief appearance at the ASCD Empower 2019 conference. What a passionate and caring teacher. He reminded us that we should do whatever it takes to impact students’ lives. It all begins with relationships. Students want to know who you are. Even God says I will reveal myself to you. Relationships matter; tell kids who you are. Then who are they? What’s their story? Teach to the STUDENTS. Use intentionality – find the strengths of your students. In revealing who you are to students and learning who they are, you create a path to discovering – who are we? In those few words, Mr. Reed revealed who he is as a teacher.
Reveal yourself to your kids. Students want to know who you are. Can they trust you? Will you respect them? Will you help them when they struggle? Will you see past their imperfections? If necessary, will you fight for them? Will you give them hope? Reveal yourself to them. Show them your passion for teaching, for education, and most of all show them your passion for touching hearts – their hearts.
When top-down decisions create frustrations… When you can no longer bear the scripts… When you see the impact of our standardized testing world and standardized teaching… When you are constantly told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it… When it seems like no one knows you. Remember who you are. You are a teacher. Remember what led you to this place. Remember your own why.
Personally, when I felt my worst as a teacher – it rarely had to do with the kids. It had to do with everything else. It had to do with feeling like a failure, feeling like I had no support, feeling that my voice did not matter, feeling like I could not make a difference, feeling fenced in, feeling like a robot, no longer able to be creative or to capture those “teachable” moments or to have a sense of flow in my classroom… I felt like I could no longer reveal myself to my students. The most important things became improving test scores, to do what administration sees best, to focus on test data over what you know about a child… I could no longer be myself or be the kind of teacher that I wanted to reveal to my students.
Very few teachers have to be told how important reading and math are. Very few have to be told that we need to raise test scores. How we teach, reveals who we are. Allow teachers to have a voice in their classrooms. Allow them a voice in decisions pertaining to their students. Allow teachers to reveal who they really are to students. Support good teachers. Who are we as an education community? What are our goals for our children? Is their only one way to achievement and success or can we allow teachers to reveal their passion and their identity? Can I reveal myself to you?