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August 27, 2012 / gaillovely

Being Relevant

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?

image of in-class professional development

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.


Leave a Comment
  1. Carol Teitelman / Aug 29 2012 12:45 PM

    Thank you for your thoughtful reflection. Over the years I have found that many teachers have a classroom-centric view of life. Not bad or good but a fact. The world is within the four walls and people outside are in the “real world” and they are in school. On a metaphysical level this is impossible…we are either all in the “real world” or educators have been more magical than even I have imagined. I would hope that teachers believe that EVERYONE is relevant…their students who bring so much to school each day, the parents, the doctor in town, the plumber, the newspaper person…and on and on. While each of us may not have a direct interest in the classroom, the idea that any human could be considered “irrelevant” is horrific. I hope this “in the classroom teacher” is able to broaden his/her perspective soon.

    • gaillovely / Sep 6 2012 7:53 PM

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment. It is SO wonderful to have ANY comments, but especially one as thoughtful as yours. I do not know if the classroom teacher I wrote about in my post is reading my blog, but I am glad she gave me a reason to pause and reflect.

  2. Connie Gray / Sep 6 2012 7:46 PM

    Thanks for saying this so eloquently. This is a topic that I also dealt with as I traveled and shared my gifts and experiences. I understand the question, but you have given me some good fuel for the answer!

    • gaillovely / Sep 6 2012 7:51 PM

      Connie, I am glad I could be of help to you. Thank you for your kind support of me as a fledgling blogger. Gail

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