This article was written by Andy McCall. Andy is in his 9th year teaching, and does everything to honor his little girl, Penelope, who passed last year. Check him out on his Blog or on Facebook: Penelope's Path.
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The internet has ruined us. Everywhere you look these days you see viral videos of these “Super Teachers” as if they are the new Batman or something. I’m here to say this isn’t real. The new age of “super teachers” has created a larger gap in the teaching profession than a timed multiplication test does in our classrooms. There are a select few of these “super teachers” in every district that are so extra in their teaching life that it makes the rest of us look inferior or that we aren’t trying. I am all for reaching the kids and finding something that sticks, but this is a tad bit unrealistic for the other 99% of us.
"I am not a Super Teacher and I'm okay with that. I don’t need a cape. It doesn’t match my wrinkled khakis anyway."
People want to compare me to Batman, when I’m really more like Robin. These Super Teachers are the ones getting this glory for some huge triumph, but forget about the rest of us doing our best without all the Hollywood flare. For some reason it is expected these days to congratulate and aspire to be these people every day that I wake up. I’m not feeding the machine that is eating me alive. I am not a Super Teacher and I am okay with that. I don’t need a cape. It doesn’t match my wrinkled khakis anyway.
I’ll go on record first saying that I am impressed with what some of these “super teachers” are doing and what they create. I’m over here trying to figure out how to fold a paper triangular pyramid and they have created a paper Mache 1900s Tuscany village. I appreciate their hard work and dedication to the craft, but I also think that my classroom is pretty awesome too, whether the computers work that day or not. This vision of every classroom looking like Freedom Writers with Hillary Swank leading the charge makes for an amazing movie (that I’ve watched 1000 times), but kills me inside, because that isn’t my every day nor will it be. It’s more like Mike Harmon in Summer School mixed with scenes from Bad Teacher and School of Rock. There are more WTF moments than epiphanies and I am perfectly fine with that.
I have 20 eight-year-olds with attitudes, reading disabilities, hungry stomachs, and budding genius in science. I am an overworked, underpaid, passionate…wait for it…...HUMAN. I have good days and bad days. I wake up with headaches, have colds, and sometimes need a minute to myself at 12:30 after a math lesson. My room is not flipped every Friday. I’m lucky if it resembles a classroom on Friday. I don’t have color coordinated, laminated stickies for every single lesson we do. I don’t lead 47 after-school activities about the amazing new “method” I learned this past summer. I don’t attend every single PD session offered, nor do I drive hours to attend one because it is “innovative, informational, and the 'new way' to learn.” I don’t try to make my way up the proverbial ladder by showing off what I did in my classroom this week. I’d much rather tweet a pic of my little girls on the playground doing a cheer together. I don’t even know when these people sleep or enjoy a glass of wine. That must not be in the Super Teacher handbook.
I say all these things I don’t do because that is what the internet defines as a “super teacher”. Google Super Teacher and you’ll see it. Lists of unrealistic expectations and examples of Super Lessons can be found everywhere. If you are like me though, don’t let it phase you. I don’t need a cape and an 'Innovator of the Year Award' to tell me I’ve done my job.
My 20 tiny humans get the best Mr. McCall I can give them every single day. They will leave my classroom knowing how to regroup in subtraction and be able to read a little better than when they first came in. They will know how much I love them and how much interrupting me when I’m talking irritates me and everyone else. They will get some really cool lessons thrown in there that they’ll remember forever, but they’ll also get free time on the computer because it’s quiet time and I’m behind on paperwork that is due at 1:00pm. I will tweet their successes and fun things we did, but it won’t get 10K likes and it won’t go viral. If this makes me less in the eyes of the powers that be, then so be it. Those little eyes gleaming at me when I’ve told them “Great Job” are all that I need. I'm not a super teacher and that is okay by me. I am their teacher and they love me just the same.