A classroom teacher recently challenged me about “my relevancy.” She asked, “Since you haven’t taught in a classroom for a while, how are you relevant to teachers now?” After I stopped being stunned and the stinging hurt eased a bit, I paused to think about the question. As a former full-time classroom teacher do I have relevance? Does one have to be IN a classroom in order to have “relevance” to current classroom teachers?
Is an author relevant to someone learning to write? Can an astronaut be relevant to someone learning science? I would say they CAN be. Relevance comes from sharing tools, resources, strategies, information, and insight that might be useful to the learner. So am I relevant?
It is in fact being out of my own classroom that has lead me to learn so much and to have so much to share with others. It is a bit of a paradox that it was in leaving the classroom that I honed many of my teaching strengths and skills. I have had opportunities to try things and to learn from seeing others try things. I have experienced teaching in a wide variety of settings – small schools, rural schools, inner city schools, preschools, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, colleges and more. I have worked with children with gifts and those with challenges. I have worked side-by-side with teachers in their classrooms. I have laughed and cried with them. I have lost sleep, stayed up late, and carried home large bags of lessons learned. I have explored new skills, strategies, tools, and resources. I have mined the Internet, the library, the Twitterverse and even the magazines of our profession. I have observed, learned, grown and shared every step of the way. I still do.
I do not pretend I am a teacher who currently has a classroom full of students to teach and inspire everyday. I have a different perspective than I did when I was teaching children in my classroom daily. I know I do not know the moment-by-moment challenges each teacher I work with has in his/her classroom any more than I once knew the moment-by-moment lives of each of my students after they left our school each day. I know I do not have firsthand experience in today’s classroom, so am I relevant?
I am who and what I am, a teacher who has been in education for more than 30 years. I still have a passion for teaching that is almost as great as my passion for learning. I embrace the awesome opportunities I now have due to my more flexible schedule to pursue ideas, concepts, tools, and resources and to synthesize and share these as my “job”. I take seriously my responsibility to help others learn and grow, just as I always have, however, today those “others” are mostly educators and my classroom looks different each day. But am I relevant?
I am a teacher. I am relevant.