Why You’re More Than ‘Just’ a Teacher

I’m just a teacher.

It’s incredible how much a single word reduces someone’s potential or downplays a whole profession.

While we are at it, let’s not forget the impact our tone of voice also plays on the meaning of our words. Too often I hear a person summarise themselves with this negatively sounding stream of words.

It’s time to get rid of just.

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In fact, it’s time to rethink us simply being “a teacher”. (I’d also add in my other pet hate of the word ‘busy’ but we’ll try and stay focused here).

Words have and hold power over us. Since we first stopped grunting and started being verbose, the things we say change our world. As the awe-inspiring Dr Maya Angelou used to say, our words get on our walls, into our rugs and, eventually, into us.

So the ones we choose to use to speak about ourselves need be really considered.

Because, you’re not just a teacher.

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You are a creator of inspiration. An Inquisitive Role Model Supreme.

The Shaper of Many Futures: With one knowing look, statement or activity you change a whole person’s life trajectory.

A Storytelling Master who, every day, brings together the imagination of a whole group of children.

The Legendary Negotiator: We can’t do that right now, but should we do it just before lunch or before recess? In the tightest of squeezes, you still somehow allow everyone to save face, but ultimately get the best outcome! (Ah, directed choice, you brilliant thing, you).

A definitive Expert Multi-tasker. Bring on the usual morning updates, absent notes, questions about the day (or reminder that the day’s timetable isn’t up yet) and a quick stern stare to remind a kid we don’t throw the reading corner beanbags…. all within one minute of the classroom door opening for the start of the day.

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and so the madness begins again.

Oh, but don’t forget data analyst, goal setting coach and team and culture builder. Every single day we create real, challenging and achievable goals to push our learners just that little bit more. We model and lead a classroom feeling of safety, belonging and trust. We know we do this because of those times when suddenly the norms of the room are broken we hear our students start to remind one another of our class expectations… oh the sweet, sweet sound of that.

Too often those who have never been a teacher limit this incredible profession. But, it is also us who can reduce teachers as a whole group with how we speak of ourselves.

The skills and knowledge teachers bring into every early learning, primary, secondary, TAFE and university learning space is incredible.

The knowledge, experience and skills sitting within you right now is amazing.

So, don’t say you’re just a teacher.

Find the right words. Choose the best ones you believe connect to you.

Acknowledge what it is you can do, be proud and name it…just like Taylor Mali did in this viral video.

Let’s start choosing to get some different words into the wallpaper, rugs and bodies around us.

I am a storyteller who seeks to help people realise they can achieve more than they ever thought possible. What about you? Post a comment below!

Listen to the Upgrade Think Learn podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, or join our emailing list to get more incredible tips from amazing teachers!


Things we’re loving right now…

What Teachers Make by Taylor Mali

What Teachers Make Book


I Wish My Teacher Knew: How One Question Changes Everything by Kyle Schwarz


What a Teacher Really Makes

Taylor Mali


The Power of Teachers

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Feel like another?

How to Create a Positive Start Every Day With Your Class

The Podcast Episode #4: How to Engage & Connect with Learners

Naughty Kids Are The Greatest

I Wish Every New Teacher Knew This

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