#IMMOOC Am I a “school” teacher or a “classroom” teacher?

About twenty-two minutes into this past week’s conversation with Kaleb Rashad, George Couros raises the question about the difference between a “classroom” teacher and a “school” teacher. Co-host Katie Martin responds by offering the explanation that in many instances teachers live and work in silos that separate them from their peers and from many of the other students on their campuses. Rashad joins in the conversation by adding that there is a benefit to viewing every student on campus as my student and every fellow teacher as someone whom I am meant to lead.

The context is a discussion about the value of trust and the benefit of relationships and the roles that they play in creating a culture of innovation.

I teach at an early college high school that is in its third year. Our students are simultaneously working on requirements for their high school diploma and their associates degree from a local community college. We are, in fact, located on the campus of Tarrant County College, in Arlington, Texas. We have just launched our third cohort of 108 students and will graduate our initial cohort in 2018.

I teach a required technology applications course, and on my campus every student is my student. With only 108 ninth graders, I see everyone, every day. As a result, they are quite literally all my students. I have taught on larger campuses and in situations where there were students who had not take my course, and I can tell you that it makes a huge difference in the culture of our campus that we all teach everyone. We have a vested interest in the success of every student, and it continues even after they move on to the next grade level.

I don’t know if the size of our cohorts (110 -120) was originally designed to create this kind of situation or not (I will be asking about this.), but if so, it was a genius move that is to the benefit of every student. This makes the relationships much stronger, resulting in a greater atmosphere of trust — and, if Couros is correct,  it will enhance our ability to grow a culture of innovation.

I guess my point is that I did not choose to be a “school” teacher instead of a “classroom” teacher. That decision was made by the design of the school in which I teach. I am, however, reaping the benefits of that role both in the relationships that I have with my students and in the leadership opportunities that I have with a small faculty of about 16 fellow educators. Had I been given the choice, (and certainly after hearing Rashad’s passionate plea in favor of the option) I would have sought out the role of “school” teacher, for sure.


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