As I prepared dinner the other night, my son and I talked. Somehow, our conversation turned to my level of intelligence. In order to prove my point, I shared with him that I was enrolled in gifted programs all my life, in fact, I had even skipped a grade.
He laughed and said, “If you’re so smart, how come you’re just a teacher?” "
Just a teacher?”, I thought. I was flabbergasted! Yet, at the same time, my mind raced, questioning my chosen occupation. An occupation I had loved for 26 years. He continued, “If you’re so smart, why aren't you a doctor or a lawyer?” Ouch!
I told him, “I am that smart, but I have chosen to teach”. It brought to mind part of that horrible quote, “Those who can’t, teach.” I asked him who he thinks taught those doctors and lawyers. He responded, “Bill Gates didn't go to college, and he’s a millionaire!”
I answered, “But he did attend Kindergarten through 12th grade, right?” Who do you think taught him everything he knows? A teacher!” We continued our conversation and I think I changed his opinion, maybe.
I have to admit, what he said stung. I went to college, I have two degrees, but my son thinks I’m not that smart because I’m “just” a teacher. Maybe this is why teachers have such a hard time getting respect. Maybe this is why so many young teachers I've encountered, don’t really learn the craft, they worry about how long it will be before they “get out the classroom.”
Recently, a friend of mine asked if I was interested in advancing to a coach or administrator position. No. I truly enjoy my role as a classroom teacher. However, since I have written this piece, I have become a "teacher-leader". Who better knows the needs of our students then the classroom teacher? Who better to share strategies and tools with other teachers than the classroom teacher?
It is important that my voice, and those of so many other classroom teachers, be heard. We need to influence policy and make sure that those who have "advanced", know what it is like in the classroom.
I love teaching, I chose not to be a doctor, lawyer or even a principal.I enojoy being a classroom teacher, even if I’m perceived as “just” a teacher!