Great Teachers: Serve

It’s no wonder I consider her my “favorite” teacher. Mrs. Cloffer* provided me with separate reading activities. Only now, as a teacher myself, do I understand the extra effort that took. She was generous with her time. Once, she had dinner at our house! Another time, she took my cousin and I out for ice cream. Mrs. Cloffer loved us, and worked hard to be the best teacher for her students.  She set a good example for me.

I also am inspired by the many colleagues I’ve worked alongside over the years, who give tirelessly of themselves. It takes extra effort to bring in your own crockpot so that kids can make applesauce during a Johnny Appleseed unit. You have to be dedicated to meet and greet upcoming kindergartners in their own homes. And overnight field trips and outdoor school with middle schoolers? Yowza!

Great teachers are selfless and thoughtful.  They are focused on doing what is in the best interest of their students. They don’t whine about spending money on items for their classroom; they are generous.  Most likely, they will drop everything to help a coworker, a student, or a student’s parents.  “Devoted to their students and students’ families,” aptly describes them.

Great teachers are understanding and see the big picture.  They are in the profession to serve, and have the wisdom to see school funding comes from the families being served. These families have finite resources themselves, so making demands for more funds and higher compensation packages is not taken lightly by great teachers.

Great teachers approach problems with school resources just as they teach their students to approach problems: calmly, thoughtfully, and respectfully.  A great amount of consideration is put into understanding what all parties involved need, because great teachers aren’t focused on what they can gain for themselves, but rather on what they can do for their students with the resources they’ve been given.

Great teachers are not doormats. No good servants are.  Great teachers model strength and dignity, the ability to resolve issues considerately and for the benefit of all.  This means there are no pictures of them screaming vehemently in another’s face with the purpose of filling their pockets with more money.  They do not walk out on their students, because they know every instructional day matters – they are interested in what’s best for their students – and sometimes that means sacrificing.

Are there issues with teacher pay? With school funding? Maybe. Great teachers know it is counterproductive to stamp the sidewalks, chant and tantrum for the cameras. Little eyes are watching, little ears are hearing – learning from their role models.  Not only that, great teachers wisely realize the union is orchestrating more behind the scenes than they let on to their members. So, just as they instruct their students to stay out of hyped up drama, they too refrain.

Mrs. Cloffer was wise, hardworking – and completely devoted to serving us, her students. Thank you for being my example, Mrs. Cloffer.

The book is coming, the book is coming! This May 2021, Publicly Schooled: One Teacher’s Unsettling Discoveries will be available at many online retailers.

Originally posted February 5, 2020


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