Tomorrow, October 5th is the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization)-sponsored World Teachers’ Day. This year will be the 21st year the organization has celebrated the day, a day to recognize teachers for their invaluable contributions to society and to raise global awareness of the challenges that teachers face.
We at Two Writing Teachers would like to take this opportunity to celebrate and recognize not only our community of stellar, hardworking writing teachers, but also to celebrate and recognize all teachers worldwide.
The slogan of this year’s World Teachers’ Day is “Empowering teachers, building sustainable societies.” Many teachers think about sustainability on a global, environmental level. Teachers are investors in the future, by nature. The figurative seeds we sow may not manifest for years and years, so we understand the importance of foresight. We consider the ripple effects of our actions, so many of us naturally think and teach about ways what we do today will impact the planet tomorrow.
If we think of the most basic definition of sustainability: able to be maintained at a certain rate or level, certainly, most teachers also aim for sustainability in our classrooms. We teach sustainable skills, in the sense that we aim to imbue children with skills they need not just one day to pass a test, but always in their lives. We aim to help children learn at a sustainable pace, so that they are continually inspired to get better, not left feeling dejected and burned out by too much pressure. We aim to create a sustainable culture in our classrooms, in which all children feel safe and able to learn.
As writing teachers, we are teaching a skill that we hope students will be able to sustain for years to come. Being able to communicate a message well in writing is something that will stand students in good stead always, throughout their school careers and beyond. Teaching a student to write clearly and with independence is giving that student a great gift.
To celebrate writing teachers, here are just a few of the specific ways that a writing teacher enriches the lives of children in his or her charge:
- A writing teacher teaches children that what they have to say matters.
- A writing teacher helps children to communicate what is on their minds and in their hearts in a way that others can understand.
- A writing teacher helps children to have the courage to take great risks.
- A writing teacher shows children that they have much more to offer than a single test can show.
- A writing teacher shows children that writing can change people’s minds, can right wrongs, and can peacefully settle disputes.
- A writing teacher helps children to keep going, even when the going gets tough.
- A writing teacher shows children that revision is a vital part of any creative process, and that it’s not only okay but also usually necessary to produce a bad first draft.
- A writing teacher shows children that it’s okay to not know where something is headed, but to see it through anyway and to have faith it will all be just fine in the end.
- A writing teacher shows children that their process is more important than their product, that working independently and making choices about their work are more important than getting the correct answer. Because, in writing, after all, there are no correct answers. And no wrong ones, either.
We welcome you to join us in celebrating the teachers in our lives. In the comments section of this post, name teachers (writing or otherwise) who have been your instructors or with whom you’ve worked, and tell us about the ways they enrich(ed) the lives of their students.
Happy World Teachers’s Day and thank you for all you do!
Anna is a staff developer, literacy coach, and writer, based in New York City. She taught internationally in places such as Sydney, Australia; San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and Auckland, New Zealand in addition to New York before becoming a staff developer for the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University (TCRWP). She has been an adjunct instructor in the Literacy Specialist Program at Teachers College, and teaches at TCRWP where she helps participants bring strong literacy instruction into their classrooms. Anna recently co-wrote Bringing History to Life with Lucy Calkins, part of the 2013 series Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing (Heinemann). She has been a researcher for Lucy Calkins, contributing especially to Pathways to the Common Core (Heinemann, 2012) and Navigating Nonfiction (Heinemann, 2010).