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  • Quiet! Teacher in Progress

Which Role Do You Want to Play?

by Mrs. Mimi
May 1, 2013
Being a teacher means embracing constant change. Yet all too often, teachers are told when, how and why to change. In this monthly column, Mrs. Mimi takes on creating change for herself by rethinking old practices and redefining teaching on her own terms.

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If you have ever met me, talked to me or read any of my writing, you probably know that I think all topics (no matter what they are) can be related back to school, education, and the art of teaching. In my mind, schools, students, and teachers are at the center of the universe and, therefore, always on my mind.

So, you probably won’t find it surprising that today, while waiting in the doctor’s office for an appointment, I was thinking about and drawing parallels to school. (What can I say? I’m a teacher. It’s impossible to shut it off.)

Anyhow, I sat in the waiting room as people filtered in and out in various states of frustration, lateness and oblivion. There were people who were clearly ticked off that they had to be there and had no tolerance for anything other than a prompt appointment and little to no human interaction. There were people who were running fifteen minutes late and clearly had a million other things on their minds. There were people who sauntered in, slamming the door loudly behind them as if they were the only people in the room.

As I watched this juicy social tableau unfold before my eyes, I was thinking about how many of these individuals were almost caricatures when it hit me like a ton of bricks. BAM! I could equate each of these broad character types to a specific type of teacher in a staff meeting.

With the Common Core State Standards looming in our daily realities, there is a lot of change on the horizon and I am sure that you are in more than your fair share of meetings. Am I right or am I left? So let’s think about this—which role do you play, and how does it impact the way in which your colleagues view you and/or the way in which your school is moving forward?

As your school continues to advance and refine its literacy practices, which voice are you going to add to the fray? Are you going to be Frazzled Teacher who has a To-Do List that has spontaneously grown more To-Do Lists? Are you going to be Frustrated Teacher who cannot seem to get past all the impending change? Or are you going to be Oblivious Teacher who feels as if she is the only one who has ten thousand competing demands on her plate?

Personally, I know I can be and have been any of these teachers on any given day.

Will you be one of those teachers, or are you going to pause, take a deep breath, and think about what kind of teacher you want to be and stand in that reality? A little fake-it-until-you-make-it, if you will.

I feel like major change is on the horizon and we do have the potential to seize the moment and make an impact as teachers. There are only so many days left in this school year and, as is the tradition in many schools, these days will be filled with decisions, thoughts about next year and meeting after meeting after meeting.

So let’s collectively take a beat and think about how we want to represent ourselves, how we want to contribute to the conversation, and how we want to be perceived.

Mrs. Mimi is a pseudonymous teacher who taught both first and second grades at a public elementary school in New York City. She's the author of IT'S NOT ALL FLOWERS AND SAUSAGES: MY ADVENTURES IN SECOND GRADE, which sprung from her popular blog of the same name. Mimi also has her doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University.

© 2013 Mrs. Mimi. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.
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