The Wonderful Life of Teaching
December 11, 2019
Dana Specker Watts, Ph.D.
ISS Director of Research and Development
Recently some of our teacher friends seem to be getting down about our profession. Although these teachers are incredibly gifted and well respected by students, teachers and parents across the globe, they are discouraged about the current state of education.
What is wearing our teachers down? Perhaps the move towards standard-based grading and reporting? The constant need to align and redesign formative and summative assessments? Rewriting curriculum to match the latest standards? The changes in learning management systems? The integration of latest tech? Or the revolving door of leadership that walk through the halls of our schools over the short tenure within an international school?
Whatever it is that is wearing them out, it is a lot of change to say the least.
In a time where the social emotional health of our students seems to be at the forefront of every conference and PD session, the stress of our teachers seems to be at an all time high. We have overlooked the social and emotional health of the most valuable asset we have in schools (others than students) . . . our educators. Who is looking after their emotional wellbeing? According to Klaus Schwab, the World Economic Forum’s founder and executive chairman, education is in the midst of a fourth revolution. However, revolutions come at a cost.
Currently the wellbeing of our educators is at an all-time low. However, as the holiday season approaches, a favorite film reminds me of the importance of being a teacher. In the film “It’s a Wonderful Life” George Bailey is at a low point in his life and struggles with the meaning of life. As he begins to see the impact his life has had on others, the angel Clarence says to him: “Strange isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”
This holiday season, teachers should take a moment and look at their life with the same lens as George Bailey was provided: What would the world of education be like without you?
Think of all the lives you have touched throughout your careers.
Think of the minds you have opened.
The hearts you have mended.
The tears you have wiped away.
The passion you have ignited to learn.
The children you have advocated for when no one else would.
The knowing smile you have shared with a child who is searching for a friend.
When teachers are discouraged, I wish I could create a magic calculator that could add up the number of lives teachers touch each year – many times without even realizing it. We don’t realize the impact and power we have on the life of a child. And we should because that’s why we do what we do.
In the spirited (yet altered) words of George Bailey:
“We are going to build things. I may not know what we are going to do tomorrow, and the next day, and the next year, and the year after that. But let’s shake the dust off our desks and change the world. Then then we can build things. We can build relationships. We can build experiences. Together we can build classrooms that impact a lifetime. I want us to live again. Let’s throw a lasso around learning and teaching. And the moonbeams will shoot out of our fingers and toes and the ends of our hair!”
So, this holiday season, at ISS, we wanted to let you know:
It is a privilege to connect you. It is a privilege to empower you. It is a privilege to serve you.
Let us know how we can help you. It’s a wonderful life when a teacher impacts the life of a child. You matter.