These shoes. My shoes. My brown, 9M, toe-scuffed, wrinkled-vamp, tattered-lined, eroded-sole, angled-heeled shoes. They sustained and brought comfort for many years of my work. 

I am a teacher. 

          

Many people think of teaching as telling. An information-dispenser. There is knowledge involved in teaching, but it’s not about dumping-and-filling. Some think teaching’s easy. After all, you get your summer’s off as well as evenings and weekends. Not true. My time outside the classroom was intermixed and at times overflowing with numerous meetings, workshops, licensure requirements, and the planning of lessons. During the school year my weekend’s were spent preparing for the next week while weeknight’s were short and mornings came early.  If you’re dedicated, teaching’s hard. Hard on you and your family. After all, teachers infuse with many students’ families, too. Kind of an extended family. According to this article 1-in-4 teachers are considering quitting teaching, are almost twice as apt to suffer job-related stress, and are nearly three times more likely to experience depression than most adults. So, why would anyone teach?

 

Why do I teach? I didn’t want to, but my college’s Department Chair, Dr. Weldin, saw something in me. I think it was my gift,…spiritual gift.  I think God created me for it, and I think He specifically trained me in “fluent five-year-old”. Teaching is about the learner. Even the college students I taught are learning about their future learners. Over my 35-year-teaching-career I’ve worked with young kids. Kindergarteners. Preschoolers. Even 16-month-olds.  

 

I love young kids. Their curiosity. Wonder. They’re built to question. Driven to learn, to understand their world and those that live in it with them.  I am so enamored with the young, particularly kindergartners, I purchased an 1884 copy of Friederich Froebel’s (the inventor of the modern day Kindergarten) The Education of Man. Not everyone’s built to teach young kids.  Some are wired for various ages, interests, or specific needs. After all teachers, students,…just plain people come in all varieties.                               

     

I could ramble on, but really here’s my point,…my learning target,…my objective. Everyone is a learner. I believe parents are a child’s first and forever teacher. Truly, they are. I believe that we’re all teaching through our everyday interactions with those we pass by in the store, on the street, in the parking lot, or wherever your daily path takes you. So, be aware, your students are watching. They’re listening. They’re paying attention. To you.  Go forth and…teach.

-Dan Gruhlke (“Mr. G.”)

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