Texting teachers are not good role models to their students. Recently, I had an experience that left me feeling unsettled during a book presentation at an elementary school. At least three out of six teachers sitting on the periphery of the multi-purpose room among a large group of first-graders were texting. I don’t mean an occasional glance at their cell phones. No. They were totally focused on their phones with their thumbs moving faster than the speed of light!
I had been invited to present The Writing Process, a Power Point, which I developed that includes my personal journey. The presentation includes slides of my ideas, drafts, edits, rejection slips from publishers, etc. My goal was to provide an interesting mix of slides and conversation. I wanted the children to see themselves as writers. But as I was trying to convince the children that their imagination could help them create a story, I was stunned by the texting teachers sitting in the audience. What kind of message does that send to the children?
According to the words of William Arthur Ward, a famous writer, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” While the texting individuals may be good teachers, they should aim higher to become superior and great teachers that inspire their students. Our actions speak louder than words. Children of this age are incredibly perceptive, and will see through a teacher who says one thing, but acts in another way.
Were the Texting Teachers Doing Classwork?
I know that we are all connected to our phones; which have become addictive to many of us, including myself. It is hard for me to not grab for my phone when I hear a ding letting me know I have a message. Has someone commented on my blog, Re-tweeted a Tweet, or sent me a personal message on Facebook? Also, I know that our Smartphones have become interactive teaching tools in the classroom. I applaud technology. In fact, I have taught many courses via Distance Education. I’ve included Smart Phones in my classroom activities. But, I still don’t agree with expecting one thing from a class of children and doing something opposite. Do you? What do you think of texting teachers? In a recent article from the National Education Association, Sheila Kohl wrote the following: “Teachers are role models for their students all day, every day, so I take my actions and behavior very seriously.” She went on to say, “Being a role model can be daunting—our students are observing us all the time.”
Long-Lasting Lessons in School
Teaching is more than just covering the curriculum. Modeling positive behavior and discussing it with their students will enable children to use those skills all their lives. Can you remember things that an elementary teacher taught you? I know that I can. Miss Mary’s actions still resonates with me as I pick up a tissue and wipe the water from around the sink after I’ve washed my hands. I still see her in action cleaning up around a sink in the classroom as she said something like this, “Always clean up your messes.” Would it have made the same difference if she said the words, but lacked the action behind it. I doubt it.
Words to Think About
I would like to say to all teachers that your students are watching you all the time. It isn’t what you say, but what you do! Eventually, the students will begin to act like you. It is a compliment! Make sure that their actions are from the best of you. I will close with the words from a school superintendent, “Being a role model is more than a side effect of our teaching: It’s the root of why we need to always be “on” in the classroom.” Brian P. Gatens.
Wanda is a former college instructor and administrator in early childhood education and retention. After retiring, she shares her children’s books and the Writing Process with children. Her books are Sunbeam and Barkley’s Great Escape. She is a child advocate and Tweets daily about children’s issues. She is a credentialed parent educator and works with the CDC on Swim Safety for young children.