“After a discussion that involved all members of the board, AASL has redefined the term that describes the certified person who runs a school library (or library media center — that term wasn’t addressed) as a “school librarian”. Gone is the term “school library media specialist” which has been our official designation going back to the first Information Power…”
This made me think about my own title. I have been called a teacher, an educator, a special education teacher, an exceptional needs specialist, and an adjunct instructor, among many other things that I can not mention out loud. For me, it doesn’t matter what I’m called but I have always considered myself a teacher. I am proud of that title and I remember when my parents first saw me in this role. It was an eye opener for them because I was no longer just their little girl. It was amazing for them to see me in control of a classroom. It was my shining moment to show my parents that I was now a grown up!
Yet as a teacher, I wanted to be even more. I wanted to be the one to make a difference. I wanted to have an impact in lives that even though they might not remember me, they would remember what I had to teach them. I’m not sure there is even a name for this.
I wanted to be a friend to parents of my students. I had seen some teachers in an adversarial position with parents and that is not what I wanted at all. I wanted to be part of a team and work with parents to help their children succeed. By doing this, I felt it was the only way for a student to really achieve success. Just as in a divorce, if both parents are constantly fighting, it is the child who loses. In a school situation, if the school and the parents are constantly at odds, it is the student who comes out the loser. School should not be all about power struggles.
Then as I think about how adults struggle with their own titles, I think about all the titles that my own students have had to face. My students have been labeled too much in their young lives. They have labeled students with disabilities, or handicaps. For federal funding and statistics, the labels get even more detailed. Among their peers, they are labeled losers, retards, dumbo, etc. and my students have heard it all at a very early age. By their parents or guardians, many of my students have been labeled lazy, dumb, or slow.
I realize that it doesn’t matter what I am called or what my students are called. We need to get beyond the labels. I need to find out exactly what their needs are and leave their labels at the door. My students need to realize that we will never be able to get rid of the labels, but we don’t need to let the focus of our lives revolve around these labels. These labels do not define anyone’s life. It is our actions that do that.
Just as in the library, I will go to the person in charge (whatever their title is) and ask for help because I know that they have more knowledge than I do in the library. They may be able to help find the answers I need.
In the classroom, whatever I am called, I will be there for my students. I will help them find the answers to their questions.
No matter what my students are called, I will encourage their quest for knowledge. I think this quest is something we are all born with and it doesn’t matter what our labels are, this can’t be ignored. This thirst for knowledge can be encouraged and nurtured. I need to put aside any label that I may have associated with this student and delve into the real person to find out what must be done to meet this student’s needs.
If I can do this, my job as a teacher will be successful.
What labels do you have? How does it affect your teaching? How do you cope with this?
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).