EdCo Members Ansley Glenn, Luke Johnson, and Nita Smith discuss what they wish non-teachers understood about teaching. Their answers speak to the heart of teaching.
*originally published June 8, 2021
Summer break. It always comes up when people talk about teachers. Teacher salaries, teacher schedules, teacher stress. All of it is explained away by a long summer break. And as we begin that “break” again this year, it’s the perfect time to reflect on what teachers really want non-teachers to know and understand about teaching, allowing them to see that the summer break isn’t really what it’s about at all.
So we asked teachers to tell us what they want non-teachers to know. No surprise, it boiled down to the same things. It isn’t about the time we spend lesson planning, it isn’t about all the hours put in, and it isn’t about the never ending to-do list. What we want you to know about is the energy we pour into being the best we can be for our students, in the hopes that we can leave a lasting impression, or if nothing else, be available to help them, no matter the state in which they come to us.
“You never fully leave work at work as a teacher,” Ansley Glenn, EdCo Member and 6th Grade Math teacher at Harpeth Hall tells us. She continues, “It’s not just a job. I wish non-teachers knew how much of our heart and soul we put into this.”
Heart and soul. We give all we have day in and day out.
Luke Johnson, EdCo Member and English teacher at Battleground Academy explains that we give our heart and soul because of the lasting effects of our experiences as students. “I would hope that everyone who’s not a teacher has had an experience, as a student, that made them feel a kinship, a connection, or inspired. Teachers are chasing that, chasing being that person for someone.”
And even when we can’t be that, we can at least be there. That’s what Nita Smith, EdCo Member and music teacher at IT Creswell wants non-teachers to know. “I’ve learned our kids have a lot they are going through by the time they get to our classroom, and we’ve got to be ready with our lesson plan, that’s true, but we’ve gotta be ready too, to push that aside if we have to deal with some things.” She continues, “Yeah, we want them to get their degree, we want them to go on to be successful, but it’s those moments in which our humanity opens up, so that we can be a vessel for them to pour in, so that we can then refill them.”
Summer break isn’t a break because you don’t get a break from something that has claimed your heart and soul. You keep prepping and planning, while knowing that sometimes those plans don’t matter, because what does matter is that you’re there, and your choices have a large impact, sometimes for the day and sometimes for life.
The Educators’ Cooperative is a non-profit organization that provides a professional learning community for K-12 teachers. Created for teachers by teachers in 2016, EdCo provides professional development and support for educators to collaborate across sectors, disciplines, and career stages. EdCo aims to revolutionize teacher development and leadership by focusing on the essential agency, autonomy, and common ground all teachers share. EdCo is based in Nashville, Tennessee with a reach far beyond that physical location and potential for replication in communities throughout the nation. When educators collaborate, the future of education is greater than the sum of its parts.
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