Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What is a Teacher?

For the past 22 years, I've had conversations with people I meet that sound something like this:

New Person: So, what do you do for a living?
Me: I'm a teacher.
New Person: Oh, really!  Wh\at do you teach?
Me: I teach language arts and computers.
New Person: Oh, wow!  Language arts!  So you teach things like writing and spelling and vocabulary?  Reading, too?  You have kids read novels and things?
Me: Yep, I sure do.
New Person:  So that means you must keep yourself pretty busy, especially with teaching writing.  You must have to grade a lot of essays.
Me: Yes, that takes up a lot of my time!
New Person: There's a lot of stuff to cover in language arts.
Me: Yes, I have to do my lesson plans every week, and often they change because I tend to over plan!
New Person: What grade do you teach?
Me: Junior high, 7th and 8th grade.
New Person: Yikes!  You're brave!  I give you a lot of credit!  That's a hard age to teach!
Me: Nah, I love that age!  The kids are a lot of fun!

Now that I've started my new position with the district, conversations have gone more like this:

New Person: So, what do you do for a living?
Me: I'm a teacher.
New Person: Oh, really!  What do you teach?
Me: I'm the instructional technology resource teacher for my district.
New Person: Oh.  What's that?
Me: Well, I help teachers and students integrate technology into the curriculum for learning and instruction.
New Person: Oh, like computers, iPads?  Things like that?
Me: Yep!
New Person: Oh.  So what grade do you teach?
Me: Well, I work with teachers and students grades kindergarten through 8.
New Person: Oh.  So you don't have your own classroom of students?
Me: No.  I have an office.  But I do get to come in to other teachers' classrooms to work with them and their students.
New Person: Oh.  So you're not like a regular teacher.

And this is where I don't know what to say.  I consider myself a teacher, but am I?  I don't really have any of the "markers" that indicate I'm a teacher --  I don't have a classroom or my own class of students, I don't use textbooks, I don't make lesson plans, I don't grade papers.  So, am I still a teacher?

One of the things was was the most difficult to me when my daughter was getting ready to leave for college was finding a "new identity".  I had spent 18 years being lots of things -- Jim's wife, Becky's mom, a teacher -- and I felt like having my child leave home to go to school was almost like taking away one of my identities.  I wasn't the mom of a kid anymore.  This is how I am starting to feel about myself and my job.  Am I losing my identity?  Am I not a teacher anymore?

Don't get me wrong -- I like my new job.  I get to do some really fun things (and I admit -- some not-so-fun things, like do NOT talk to me about Apple Configurator!!!!) and I get to work with teachers that I haven't had the chance to work with before but I admire very much.  But I don't teach every day.  So what am I?  What makes a teacher a teacher????

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