This is a shout out to all the teachers out there or anyone who helps educate in any field! You are an artist, a creator!
I love art; if I had all the money in the world I would fill my home with pieces from my favorite artists. Great artists are celebrated because there is a tangible product of their work. Something that you can hang up on your wall, or watch, or listen to.
Unfortunately as a teacher your art is often not tangible, or it is forgotten or maybe it is even just balled up at the bottom of a school bag.
Teachers as Creators
To be a teacher requires infinite levels of creativity. Your clients are possibly among the most harsh because nothing beats a student openly sleeping through something you have slaved over!
You have to constantly find ways to engage young minds. Not only to keep them interested but also to make them want to learn. If you’ve ever spent time with one child you know keeping them focused on a task is tough. Now do it with 20 or 30 at the same time.
In fairness it is difficult for a student as well; the whole world is filled with new things to discover and explore, sitting quietly at a desk just doesn’t fit into that desire to discover.
So as a teacher you are forever creating, taking dry words from a textbook and trying to turn them into something relatable and fun. Making sure that each lesson has changes in tempo so that it doesn’t get boring. High energy for too long can be just as boring as a dull lesson.
You have to come up with creative test questions to check what you’ve taught has been understood. You have to think of a hundred different ways to say the same thing because every child learns differently. You have to create assignments that are relevant. You design marking rubrics to ensure each student has a fair chance.
And still, at the end of the day, the only work that remains is the imprint in your students’ heads. Sure you can hang posters up and parents can ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ for a few minutes but no one is going to walk in and say, “I must have that!”; it will all probably end up in recycling sooner or later.
You make plays, write stories, create music, draw pictures! Teachers are creators.
Minds and Memories
If you’ve been a great teacher, many students will think back fondly to their time with you, but many mediocre teachers also spent much of their lives giving a lot to their craft and they are lost in the midst of the past. You will probably not even get any recognition for your work. Teachers are often judged on exam results, but how many teachers planted seeds that only sprout many years later?
Teachers are taken for granted. Often struggling with much lower wages, abuse from the disgruntled parents of their students and terrible students. No one will ever hang a textbook in a museum or gallery, that a teacher slaved for months or years to create, something that may have encouraged thousands of students to become great architects or designers or just about anything.
Maybe your teacher wasn’t the world’s best musician, or artist or actor, hadn’t won a Nobel Peace Prize for science, or math, or literature but how many minds did that teacher shape to have the ability to do those things with a tangible outcome?
One of the worst quotes is “Those who can’t do, teach.” I would challenge anybody who actually believes this to spend time teaching. Then you will find out how much a teacher is actually required to be able to ‘do’. Hitting a ball takes skill. Knowing how to teach someone to hit a ball takes requires knowledge of everything involved and amazing creativity to communicate that to someone who cannot ‘do’ it yet.
Behind every great person is an army of people who had a hand in teaching them.
The Daily Grind
That creativity takes its toll. There is a life in working with younger generations but it takes huge energy too. By the time you reach those ‘long’ vacations you are exhausted.
You have had every ounce of energy drained from you. You give all you have to hopefully fill the minds of others. Most of the time you cannot relax as you are having to start the creative process for the next semester.
So this is a shout out to teachers. Maybe you won’t have an exhibition in your name or people hunting down your work. But you are just as much an artist as someone who sells to galleries, or performs in huge concert halls, or gets called up to receive an Oscar!
Stay strong, keep creating and shaping minds!