In mid-July, I flew from Roanoke, Virginia, to Hartford, Connecticut, and picked up a rental car to drive to Turners Falls, Massachusetts for Responsive Classroom Consulting Teacher training. As I stepped up to the counter, the Enterprise customer service agent put out his hand to introduce himself, smiled, and asked, “Are you traveling for business or pleasure?”
“Are you traveling for business or pleasure?”
Even though it was only a few seconds, let me break down my mental process as I responded to this very simple question.
I laughed, looked down, and in my head said, “I’m just a teacher.” JUST. A simple, four-letter word that would have diminished my Undergraduate Degree in Elementary Education and Human Development from Boston College. My Master’s Degree as a Reading Specialist, also from Boston College. My National Board Certification in Literacy. The honor of serving as Virginia’s 2016 Teacher of the Year. The writing I do for NWEA and this blog, and most recently, becoming a Responsive Classroom Consulting Teacher.
I am not JUST a teacher. I am a creator, a writer, a mentor, a designer, a leader, a presenter… Bottom line? I am a professional.
So I stopped myself, lifted my head, and instead, I confidently smiled, “For business.”
Yes. “For business.” I am in the business of educating children, which means I am also in the business of educating myself. Not a summer has gone by since I began teaching in 2003 where I have not furthered my own education.
I have done my fair share of traveling in the last couple of years… for business. Yet, how many people actually think of teaching as a business? As a part of our society worthy of being treated professionally?
As I drove the hour between the airport and Turners Falls, I thought about that question, and how my immediate reaction was one that I have heard many teachers utter during conversation — I’m just a teacher.
It’s time to get rid of that four-letter word. It’s time to change our mindset.
As the summer reaches its midpoint, and we near the start of a new school year (or for some people, the new school year is here), we need to remind ourselves that we are in the business of education, and we are professionals. If we expect society to see us this way, we must first see it in ourselves.
In August, I’ll travel again, for the first time as a Consulting Teacher for Responsive Classroom. When I pick up my rental car, and the agent asks, “Are you traveling for business or pleasure?” There will be no hesitation. I will not diminish the work I do. I will confidently say, “For business.”
Have you ever found yourself saying you are JUST a teacher? If so, when? Tell me at @ndf81 with #notjustateacher.