George Lucas Educational Foundation

I am a Teacher, Not a Hero

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Black and White Photo of Teacher

Yes, I am a teacher. No, I am not a hero. I am not a martyr. Nor am I a saint, knight in shining armor or wizard. I am a teacher. I eat M&Ms, wear dirty socks on days that I forget to do my laundry, and eat salads that my fiancée makes me for lunch.

I appreciate the massive amount of support that has been poured over my profession ever since the cursed Common Core was implemented. But we teachers can handle the problems and negativity. We are not poor, helpless punching bags smacked around by big government and lawmakers.

Do not look upon me or us with sad, puppy dog eyes, or kowtow to our profession. We joined the ranks of teachers because we care about kids and making the world a better place. Not for platitudes and revelry. We knew the risks.

There are thousands of people who work harder than we do. Single moms who scrubs pans for minimum wage. Fathers who work two jobs and barely get to see their children in the hopes of giving them a better future.

Truck drivers. Loggers. Coal miners. Sewage workers. Migrant workers.

We all make the world go round. Not just teachers.

So thank you for your support. But we can handle the Common Core monster. We can handle the problems, many as they are, facing public education today.

The best thing for you to do is not stand on street corners with signs and misplaced rage. The best thing for you to do, for teachers and everyone else, is to support your children. Teach them wrong from right. Teach them manners. Teach them how to behave so that we don’t have to.

Read to them. Show them how to use the internet for answers to math problems that you don’t know. Parents are the first and best teachers.

I see your son or daughter for 40 minutes a day. Much of that time is spent re-focusing students, explaining and re-explaining directions, and then re-focusing students.

You are the first line of defense. Not teachers.

Parents are the heroes. Not teachers.

We give the children a few tools that they may or may not need to survive in the real world. Will your son ever need to identify symbolism at his day job? Probably not? Will your daughter need to derive square root or find the hypotenuse of a right triangle? Doubt it.

Will your son need to listen and follow directions when spoken to? Will your daughter need to do work, even when she doesn’t want to? Yes and yes. These are the lessons you teach.

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

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Don Doehla, MA, NBCT's picture
Don Doehla, MA, NBCT
2015 California Language Teacher of the Year, Co-Director Berkeley WL Project at UC Berkeley Language Center

When I think back to when I was a boy, and how my parents were abusive and disengaged with my sister and me, I am thankful for the teachers who became my heroes, not because they sought to be such, but because they did what you mention about teachers doing what they do because they care about kids. I am thankful that some of my teachers stood in to stop the bullying I had to endure. I am thankful for the teachers who challenged me to do my best so I could go on to university and improve my lot in life. Thanks to those teachers, I chose to be a teacher as well, as a way to pass on the legacy they entrusted to me. They were no super heroes, and neither am I. We, like you say Josh, just do what we can to make sure our students are able to be successful. Even though not one of my teachers would ever want to be called a hero, they were and are my personal heroes. Many students in my classes have needs greater than I did. I don't seek to be their hero, but I hope to help them along like others did for me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Best regards,

Gwen Pescatore's picture
Gwen Pescatore
President Home & School Assoc, #ParentCamp Organizer, Co-Moderator #PTchat

As a parent, I can tell you that I see any one and all individuals that have a positive impact on a child's life as heroes. a parent we are the first, and possibly the most important teacher in a child's life. But, there are plenty of children who don't have a parent present (for a multitude of reasons, not all bad, and some of which you mentioned). For those children, a teacher, bus driver, pastor or neighbor may be that hero. There are also some things that others may do, that my child connects with. Not that I'm choosing not to share with my child, but that I might not know of, or happen to be passionate about, yet it's something that resonates with my child. Again, that other individual is a hero.

It is a much overused, but it is oh so true. It takes a village. A village that has many heroes from all walks of life, varying perspectives, skills and personalities. No one less of a hero in my, or my child's, eye than another.

So I don't pity you. I have the utmost respect, and am truly thankful for the difference each makes to a child's life.

Richard Chapstick's picture

I just finished my first year teaching in the Jackson Mississippi Public school district. Come work here and then rewrite this article....

Emdadul Haque's picture

But nothing can be compared with a teacher. A teacher plays the role of the parents of thousand students at a time. The real parents could hardly manage five children. Every teacher should feel proud of being a teacher. Because without them, nobody could know what s/he is going to be.
Thank you teachers.

Derrick Leu's picture

Author might want to do a little more research into the history of American public education and how it has been subverted by political and economic influences to intentionally undermine the fabric of our educational system,mainly children and families in greatest need. While others may work harder in their professions, generally teachers are towards the top of e hardest working and it is my belief that the expectations of teachers of long hours and very little resources are meant to keep the status quo of either burning out those who would try to bring change to the system through meaningful instruction and keep those who walk the line of testing and creating children who have no interest in learning.

Rebecca Stanton's picture

Hmm, I mostly disagree with your post Josh. I may not ask for people to call me a hero, martyr or saint, but I do need the community's support in the struggle against the high stakes testing and the Common Core madness imposed on us. We can't fight against big money and entrenched systemic problems without the support of parents and families. I welcome their anger and protest against the ridulous corporatization of high stakes testing. I teach in NYC where my students took nearly 7 weeks of testing so far this year. My eighth graders sat through hours upon hours and days upon days of mind-numbing, developmentally inappropriate "Common Core" aligned tests. That is a waste of time, energy, and educational opportunities that could have been better spent on real learning. So yeah, I welcome the anger and vocal support of community members. They let me know we are not in this fight alone.

Hamidah Yuhan Ma'ruf's picture

I love my parents...because of them I am inspired to be a teacher. Now after long time i have been a teacher i get a lot of life education which is not though in formal school......

Gloria Mitchell's picture
Gloria Mitchell
Middle school teacher

I agree that parents are so important. But I think a parent standing on a corner with a sign -- say, protesting budget cuts to public education, or protesting experimental teacher-evaluation schemes, or protesting school closings -- is teaching his or her children an important lesson in active citizenship. If parents don't like the way policymakers are shaping public education, they have the right to speak up about it. Go, parents!

Kelly Pankau's picture

I agree to a large extent with what you have to say, but there is more to the picture. Sure, I can deal with teaching the content of Common Core, and students should come to school ready to learn. But there is a certain expectation put upon us that because we do care and are willing to give so much of ourselves, that we have to give our own time and sometimes money to do a quality job. Do dishwashers have to stay and do unpaid work beyond their scheduled hours? Do they have to take dishes home to wash? Do they have to buy the dishwasher soap themselves or write a grant for someone else to fund it? Look at any "Teacher of the Year." They always go above and beyond their school day, which further sends the message that if we want to be good teachers, then we have to do that also. If I look at what I get paid, it's really not so bad except for the fact that the amount I get paid per hour dilutes as I have to use more of my time to plan, grade, contact and respond to parents, go through an extensive evaluation process, provide extra support for students, etc. I would feel much more respected if I was given more time during my work day to do those tasks that my job requires. I enjoy the challenge of teaching standards that require critical thinking and trying to find ways to connect to and support my students, but it shouldn't come at the expense of my own life. I want to be able to have the time to get enough sleep and make sure my socks are clean.

Choppe's picture

I do see your point, and I agree that there are many who labor much harder they we may in the classroom. Consider this: we receive the support we do because we ARE supposed to be role models and examples for our students, and most parents do appreciate what we do; consider that we daily develop the most precious resource society has--it's children-- and we are asked to create, through a 12+ year process, productive, contributing members of society. We do this in partnership with parents and the community, at least, that is the ideal, regardless of what the current curricular or instructional fad. While some go on to higher education, others do not, sure in the assumption that they have the basics of prep for life.
Our profession is both a privilege and an enormous responsibility, and educators at all levels need parental support.
Parenting is the toughest responsibility anyone can have....and there are no textbooks, nor are there 'owners manuals" issed at birth. We need to remember that parents need and deserve our support, too.

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