I'm Not a Super Teacher And That's Okay

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Andy McCall author 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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  • Heather Logston

    I needed this in a bad way. Thank you. I love my students but end up frustrated because I don’t feel like I’m doing my job if I’m not pumping out amazing and inspring lessons all day, every day. My work is good, my students are learning; why do I feel the need to be this amazing “Pinterest” teacher? Anyway, thanks for the reality check. I am enough. We all are. We work hard, we care for our kiddos, we show up for them, we give what we can. We can’t be all things to all people as expected these days.

  • Christina

    Dear Sir,
    Thank you one million times over. You’ve touched a nerve, for sure.

  • Lynn

    Oh.My.Goodness! It’s like u crawled inside my head!!! I jokingly, not, say, "I work with witches and sorcerers " because some of these people go around smiling and organizing , and tweeting All.Day.Long. In my district, if u don’t tweet every single lesson and activity u r a failure. I refuse to have to justify my teaching via social media.

  • Gigi

    Thank you! This is the only article I need to read this summer. I already feel better about next school year. Now, back to my wine . . .

  • Kathryn Ives

    Thank you for writing what I say all of the time. I remind people that many of those “super teachers” don’t actually last in the classroom. They burn up and move on to other settings. I have been teaching for 25 years and do not aspire to super. I aspire to solid, day in and out. Prepared and ready to give my best. And when I can’t give my best, I let the students know. Just as I forgive them their off days, so do they forgive me. By the end of the year, I hope to have done no harm, taught all something they didn’t know before me, and inspired some. I may not be super, but I am one of those bedrock teachers that keep education working.

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