Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Many Hats a Teacher Wears

When you think of a teacher you might think to yourself something like this:  "Oh, a teacher is someone who prepares lessons and teaches students what they need to know."  While that is true, a teacher juggles so much more than that.  We are constantly "wearing different hats" so to speak and are sometimes even wearing multiple hats at one time. 

Let me share with you some of the roles of a teacher:

We are Teachers:  We plan multiple lessons a day (in Elementary School that is) that will be interesting and engaging to students so that they will want to pay attention and participate and will therefore learn all of the standards that they need to learn in any given school year.

We are Tutors:  We tutor those student who are struggling one on one during our prep time or any other spare moment that we have during the day. 

We are Cheerleaders:  We are constantly cheering our students on!  We tell them that they are good enough, they are smart enough, they are strong enough.  We tell them that they CAN figure out the answer and they CAN do hard things.  When they get frustrated with themselves or down we are the ones to see that and to figure out how to bring them back up. 

We are Boy Scouts:  We are always prepared.  When a students shoe falls apart and hey don't have another pair we get out the hot glue gun and glue it back together.  We have the epi-pen (and have been trained on how to use it) for the student who has peanut allergies and we have candies in the cupboard for the student who is diabetic.  We have snacks in the cupboard for the student who comes in crying because they didn't have time to eat breakfast.

We are Event Coordinators:  We plan field trips, and schedule the buses.  We put on programs and plays for the parents.  W plan parties for holidays and other fun days to break up the normal daily routine every once in a while.

We are a Friend:  We go and talk to the the lonely kid on the playground and we listen to the many stories that students are so eager to share with us.  We give hugs to the students who can't help but give them to us.  We remember to ask the students how their soccer game went or if they had fun on their trip.  We write back to them in their journals and let them know that we care.   

We are Nurses:  We respond to multiple comments a day about aches and pains.  "Go get a drink and go to the bathroom and see how you feel after that" are words spoken on an almost daily basis. Or "Go to lunch and eat and see how you feel after that."  We see the pale faces and know when vomit is coming.  If we are lucky we make it there with the garbage can right in time and if we aren't then we divert the class so that the student doesn't feel bad and that the mess can be cleaned up.  We inform students that ice will help their sore knee and that they don't need to call their mom. We confirm that a student has allergies and not pink eye or that they have pink eye an they need to go home so that they don't spread it to the whole class.

We are the protector of a band aid stash:  As a second grade teacher I would probably go through a thousand band-aids a year if I didn't protect my valuable stash.  One of my personal favorites was "The blood is way in there but it is going to come out" my response as it usually is was "You don't need a band aid for that."  It is also common for student to point out a speck of blood that is not even visible and say that they need a band-aid.  Sorry, you're not fooling me.  Scabs that have been picked off, scraped knees and elbows, skin cut by scissors or other such injuries where I can see blood are granted one of my band-aids.  I would hate to see what types of injuries would "need" a band aid if I actually had fun band-aids.  I just have generic tan colored ones from the school nurse. 

We are a Parent Helper:  We reinforce manners, respect, and responsibility.  We remind students to wash their hands before lunch and we tell them that they have to wear their coats when it is cold outside.  We ask them to clean up their messes, to share, and to be kind.  When they make mistakes we lovingly ask them why they were doing what they were doing and how they could make a better choice the next time.

We are Master Manipulators:  Making 28 7 and 8  year olds do what they are supposed to be doing including sitting quietly, participating, working in groups, walking quietly in hallways etc. takes serious manipulating skills.  Positive praise usually works wonders when wearing this hat of Master Manipulator. 

We are comedians:  When things are too serious it falls to the teacher to be the comedian and lighten the mood.  Not only that, but being a comedian (when appropriate) can be a great way to strengthen your relationship with your students. 

We are detectives:  We know where to look for the missing backpack or the missing jacket.  We can always find the missing notebook in the deep dark depth of a student desk.

We are Zoo Keepers:  When students have been locked inside for a whole month because of freezing temperatures and bad air quality and haven't had the opportunity to run around or get fresh air they turn into animals.  They run in the classroom and wrestle on the back carpet the teacher is therefore the Zoo Keeper who is unfortunately in the cage with all the animals. Somehow we tame them.

Last but not least WE ARE HUMAN.  We are not perfect.  We make mistakes.  There are times when we loose our patience or get mad.  There are times when we fail to plan perfectly, or things don't go just right.  But despite our imperfections, we wear our many hats every day, switching them on and off and often wearing more than one and sometimes more than two.  We do our best to love our students for who they are, to help them to progress and to learn and to make our classroom a place where they will always feel safe.  We hurt when we see that they hurt and we celebrate with them when they succeed.

We never know what a day will bring, every day is different.  It's a job that keeps you on your toes, reminds you what's really important in life, and brings lots of smiles and occasional tears.  I'm am so lucky to be a part of the profession of many hats! I hope and pray that I am making a difference for the students I feel so lucky to call my own!     


  1. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this! :-) Yes it's true we a the definition of a multi-tasker!!! Thank you! This article served as a funny & gentle reminder to celebrate what we do, year after year!

  2. I am currently in the processing of becoming a teacher and everything I read so far it is very true. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, you sound like a wonderful teacher !

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