What #TeachingIs to me

What is teaching to you?

Next week is Teacher Appreciation Week. While I’m definitely looking forward to the dessert buffet that my administrators will provide in celebration of my peers and me, this year I’m hoping for a more meaningful celebration of all the amazing teachers I interact with every day.

So how might this happen? How can we celebrate the thousands of men and women who commit themselves to serving our nation’s children and, in doing so, work daily to make the world a better place?

For starters, we can begin by acknowledging how complex teaching actually is.

Teaching is art. Teaching is science. Teaching is joy. Teaching is struggle. Teaching is growth. Teaching is life.


Teaching is crying with students as we listen to Vietnam veterans share their stories, and then going back to the classroom to debrief historical concepts that now have new meaning given the context of real human experiences.

Teaching is celebrating when the student who struggled all year to engage with the books we are reading in class finds a book that he can connect with and begins to choose other texts that feed his newfound interests.

Teaching is pushing students to do more than they think they can do and providing support for them along the way.

Teaching is partnering with parents to make sure that the student who fell ill at the beginning of the semester is able to meet school standards and earn the credit she so desperately needs. Teaching is celebrating when she gets there.

Teaching is letting down your guard enough to show students that they should never be ashamed of having a passion for learning, or any of the other special things that make them one-of-a-kind.

Teaching is acknowledging that the world is made of unique people who approach learning in different ways. Teaching is looking for ways to help all those different learners learn.

Teaching is planning, instruction, grading, providing feedback, and helping others.

Teaching is when all of these things work together in perfect harmony… and also when they don’t.  Because rather than giving up, teaching is persevering on behalf of the learners in your classroom.

As we go into a week dedicated to celebrating all that teaching is, join educators everywhere in sharing what teaching is to you. All next week, teachers will be sharing their stories and ideas on Twitter, Facebook, and in our blogs using the hashtag #TeachingIs.

Let’s give the world a better understanding of our craft, profession, and passion so they can truly appreciate what teachers do and what #TeachingIs.

Teachers know that teaching is not easily defined. As we celebrate teachers and all that they do, let’s celebrate one another by sharing what teaching is to each of us. Let’s give the world a better understanding of our craft, profession, and passion so they can truly appreciate what teachers do and what #TeachingIs.

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  • AnneJolly

    What teaching is

    Teaching is the most important profession in the nation. Only in our schools do people of all ethnicities come together and prepare for their future together. 

    Teaching is an exciting profession.  Seeing the light come on in a student’s eyes is a reward that you never forget. When all else is going wrong the mental snapshot of that moment can brighten your whole day. 

    Teaching is a profession that is full of folk with true grit. Teachers hang in there and focus on helping kids learn when the rest of the world seems to totally misunderstand them.

    Teachers are quick-change artists. They never know from one year to the next what the curriculum will look like, what will be taken away and added, and they adapt quickly to educational change while keeping a steady focus on what works for their kids. 

    Teaching is a profession that is in your blood, your brain, and your heart – even when you are not in the classroom. 

    And – face it – teaching is a profession where you have to make a choice: Are you going to be richer if you make a lot of money; or if you make a positive changes in a lot of lives.  Which leaves the best and longest legacy?  

  • WendiPillars

    “Teaching Is” exemplified

    And as both of you so duly exemplified, Teaching Is being able to reach out to others who are like-minded–or not–and learning from them, supporting them and likewise being supported in myriad ways.

    Thank you Jessica and Anne for your insights and inspiration!

  • Jeffery Call

    Teaching is…

    the most difficult job I have ever done and the most rewarding. 

  • vwillis


    Teaching is about meeting the needs of parents, administration, school boards, and government, while trying to impart the passion we have for learning to our students.

  • Rafael del Castillo

    The best teachers are those who show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see.

    A. Trenfor

  • BarnettBerry

    Brilliant blog

    Jessica, TeachingIs all what you say.  One day — hopefully soon – the public will recognize what TeachingIs — and by extension so will its elected officials. Then we will have a teaching policy system devoid of rules designed to control teachers and the right ones that will unleash of the potential of teacher leaders like you and SO many others

  • W. Lynne Fedor

    Teaching is…………

    Teaching is the best job there is.  You get to watch lives change before your very eyes.  You get to know in your heart you are making a lifetime difference in the lives of generations to come.  It is your expertise and genuine caring that will shape the value system of our country and bring sustaining ideas to the next generation.

    As a teacher of twenty-four years it has been my privilege to work with hundres of students and mentor new teachers as they have entered the profession.  I am grateful to those who walked these halls before me and anticipate with excitement those that will come after me.

    The public does not not need me to tell them about teachers, most of them had teachers and they know the investment that they made in them.  Now how the public views our profession is a different matter.  Teachers have the inability to say no to students and the needs they bring to the classroom.  It is this same ability that inspries and redirects talents of the young.  Yes, being a teacher is indeed a privilege and one I am honored to enjoy on a daily basis.

  • Linda Gregory

    Fifth Grade

    Teaching is a calling that we are born with.  It is waking up in the middle of the night with thoughts of a student, a family, or an idea about a lesson that would make it more meaningful.   We are lifelong learners!

  • Anita


    I have always loved the actual teaching part of being a teacher: listening to my students joys and fears, seeing the light bulbs go on, watching my students learn to love something.  Right now, however, I feel as if I am on a balance.  One end of this balance contains my students.  The other end of the balance has all the paperwork and testing requirements.  My students are at the lighter end of the balance and the heavier end contains all those testing requirements and the paperwork.  I am no longer in the middle, I’m falling toward that paperwork. In my 20 years of teaching, I’ve watched that balance continue to drift in the wrong direction.  I wonder now, if it will ever go back.

  • Martin van Opdorp


    In the past week, I have organized and emceed a mini-graduation ceremony for 16 beautiful, inspiring adults from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Bolivia, Afghanistan, and Kurdistan.  We gave each of them inflatable globes to literally hold “the world in their hands” and to release them into the air at the designated moment to create a moment of great pride and unfiltered exuberance.  Later  I comforted one woman from Guatemala who has undergone tremendous life challenges but found the prospect of leaving her friends and second family at our school just a little too daunting.

    This past week, we also took a nature walk with our entire school  in a large nearby nature center.  I scoped out the location, planned stations along the way, created a video guide, and brought my own group of 40 students to a small lake, a clearing to play soccer, and a circle around a large prehistoric stone centerpiece where we could meditate and appreciate the beauty of our surroundings.  We sang songs in multiple langauges and revelled in one another’s company.  Finally we reached the nature center and enjoyed a simple feast of fresh watermelon at a pavilion underneath the moonlight.  We then returrned to our school and wrote and reflected about what we learned form both a scientific and experiential approach.

    Finally, tonight we released an 84-page single-spaced literary magazine called “In Your eyes,” which I picked up at the county print shop on my off time after I had painstaking edited, formatted, and added photos, artwork, and color covers to the raw creativity and inspirational writer’s voce which we cultivated for the past six months.  We took all of our students outside in homage to our nature walk two days ago.  They were transfixed by their new “books.”  Many of them did infornal readalouds from the magazine which I captured on video.

    In the midst of all this, I missed my opportunity to interview for other jobs in the County and other nearby jurisdictions.  Two months ago,  I turned down a job to earn double my salary at a multinational corporation in Saudi Arabia.   I struggled with external distractions and internal administrivia, the ritual ablutions of the evaluation process, and so many distractions that challenge my health and make sleeping difficult.

    However, the intangible spirit  and the electricity that flowed between students and staff during the last week, especially during the spontaneous speeches by many of our graduates during our recent ceremony, made me stop, look, and listen. After almost 30 years of teaching, I recognized the parallels to the quiet meditation we had just done in the middle of the forest.  As teachers, we need to clear our desks and our cluttered minds sometimes and appreciate how lucky we are to be involved in this amazing, though vexing, profession.