What's Up, Doc? Remember the Role of a Teacher

By Randall Freeman, PhD

What is a teacher?

A teacher is a caregiver for all students, not just those in his/her classroom. A teacher is a counselor, listening to the desires and concerns of his or her students. A teacher is a custodian, responsible for the cleanliness and constant care of his or her classroom.

A teacher is an interior decorator, assigned to regularly set up, arrange, and rearrange the classroom for 180 days. A teacher is an accountant, required to daily grade and post student grades to the online gradebook. A teacher is a listener, listening to parents and guardians express concerns and anguish over their children’s’ behavior and work. Sometimes teachers even receive praise.

A teacher spends more time with his or her students while they’re awake than anybody else in the students’ lives. That's an average of six hours a day. The parents may spend 3-4 hours with the children while they’re awake. Most people don’t think about this fact and the resulting importance in each child’s life.

As a teacher of very young children, I am regularly identified with the primary caregiver. I have been called mom, grandpa, - even grandma! The importance of a teacher in a child’s life cannot be overstated. A teacher is a primary role model for 30-180 students on a daily basis.

In high school, teachers play very important roles in the lives of their students. Teachers lend an ear to the unique issues and concerns of teenage students when the students feel uncomfortable in speaking with their parents. Teachers guide them toward helpful resources. They do not judge their students.

A teacher is a nurse. A teacher provides immediate basic first aid – usually a Band-Aid – and secures the health technician when the need is greater. A teacher provides comfort when feelings are hurt and counsel when a student strays from the path of righteousness.

A teacher is a lawgiver, guiding his or her students in creating a code of conduct for the class to follow. The rewards and consequences are also created and discussed so that all might understand behavioral expectations. The teacher models the proper behavior.

A teacher always demonstrates respect and caring toward and in front of his or her students. Parents, administrators, and other students come into daily contact with the teacher. The teacher is always "on". Students watch what the teacher does more than what he or she says.

Mostly, a teacher is human. Humans make and learn from making mistakes. Demands are made of teachers from students, parents, and administrators that do not allow for mistakes. Teachers are held to a higher standard, one that is impossible to maintain indefinitely.

Keep the above on your refrigerator and reread it occasionally. Remember what your child’s teacher is responsible for and appreciate the job they do. To a teacher, teaching is not just a job, it is a way of life.

Randy Freeman and his family have lived in Menifee since 1993. Randy teaches kindergarten in Perris and his wife Karen teaches first grade here in Menifee at Freedom Crest Elementary School. They are the parents of four daughters: Daniela, 17, and 13-year-old triplets Sarah, Holly, and Megan. Randy earned his PhD in early childhood education in 2011 and has served on the Menifee Union School Board since 2008. As he explains it, this makes him Karen's boss for the first and only time in the marriage. His column will appear here every other Tuesday.


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