Why We Need To Start Valuing Teachers As Leaders

by Kay Nim

When I was 8 years old, I had a dream. An eye-opening, life-changing dream: I wanted to become a teacher. At that age, teachers were awesome. My beloved third-grade teacher was funny, full-of-energy and always made sure that we were actively learning rather than just sitting there day-dreaming. She had an energy that matched all 30 of us in the classroom.

It seemed like such an ideal job — a blend of several jobs, really. You were an actor, standing in front of the classroom, putting on a well-tailored show. You were a doctor, prescribing worksheets, flashcards and the occasional snack. You were a therapist, consoling crying children and acting as the middleman for parents and their kids.

In my eyes, teachers did everything, but society begged to differ — family members, peers and other teachers shut down my dream, quickly. Still, teaching is an underrated profession. Teachers get scapegoated and blamed first if a given child isn’t performing well. A teacher's sense of self-worth is tied to a meager salary and long hours. My parents kept telling me anyone could be a teacher. I repeatedly heard the phrases, “You are worth so much more than that,” and “You are too smart for that type of job.” Many regarded teachers like lepers and I, at an early age, was expected to secure a more suitable career.

Since then, I realized that society has a bad case of tunnel vision. We need teachers to support, groom and educate kids, but we refuse to acknowledge them as leaders. For too many future teachers, it’s nothing more than a backup aspiration. It’s the “I might teach if plan X, Y or Z fails, you know?" statement. The people who strive to become doctors, lawyers or business executives are regarded as the only ones with the good heads on their shoulders. To many, teaching is “meh” at best.

But, society needs teachers. It’s important that the best and the brightest people actively pursue teaching and regard it as a sustainable and viable career — we need to start seeing teaching as a viable career. We need to start seeing teachers as leaders. A passionate teacher can effectively manage a classroom, organize items and inspire kids to move up in life.

If we regarded them as leaders, more people would likely consider the job rather than just accepting it as a backup plan. Truly, teachers constitute the backbone of our society and its future.

If we didn’t have teachers, what would become of the future generations and for that matter, the future of the world?

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