It Takes Two: What You Should Know About Teachers

Last week I wrote about what it takes to be a super online student. That, of course, led me to thinking more about what it takes to be a super online teacher. This is a topic I think about a lot, since I am an online teacher. A few months ago I even created a Keynote presentation at the request of Ms. Alex Rister, a Professional Communication and Presentation teacher here at Full Sail. It’s been up on SlideShare for awhile now. You can view it here:

In thinking about what it takes to be a super online student or a super teacher, I kept coming back to one thing: one cannot succeed without the other. It’s necessary for both students and teachers to get on the same level in order to thrive. The better students and teachers understand each other, the better off we all are. Here are a few things students should know about teachers, and I encourage students to share the things you think we need to know about you:

Being a teacher is like being a parent

You don’t get to choose your kids, but you love the ones you get. Now, I’m not parent, but I am someone’s child, and I’m all too aware of the intricacies of the parent-child relationship. I’m also a teacher, and I enter every new class brimming with hope for my students. I want what’s best for them both during my class (where they learn and grow and I nurture their thoughts and ideas) and after they’ve left the nest. I want them to enjoy my class, to learn from me, and yes, to like me. I hear a lot of teachers say they don’t care if their students like them or not, and while I’m sure that’s true of some teachers, I think the majority who take this stance use it as a shield. Teachers, just like anyone else, don’t like rejection. That being said, if a student shouts “I hate you” at me, it doesn’t make me care any less for that student’s well-being. You can love me or hate me, but I’ll stick to whatever I truly believe is best for you. That’s what a good teacher (or parent) does. This brings me to…

Teachers are real people-

I mentioned this in the Signs of a Super Online Student post, but it bears repeating. Teachers are actually real live people.

Storytime: When I was in the third grade I remember running into my teacher, Mrs. Wilk, when I was at the mall with my mother. The interaction was painfully awkward (for me) because I was suddenly made aware of the fact that Mrs. Wilk didn’t live at school and spend her weekends in the classroom waiting for her students to come back. She was just a regular lady shopping for clothes, just like my mom! It blew my mind.

Now that I am a teacher I’m constantly amazed by the expectations my students sometimes have of me to fit into this box they perceive me to exist within. Still, I get the urge to believe teachers are otherworldly creatures; admittedly, I’m sometimes startled by things I see my former professors post on their Facebook walls because my visions of them based on classroom interaction are different from reality.

This brings me to…

Teachers were once students too, you know-

Don’t even try to pull a fast one on me. I know all the tricks. Oh, you shortened the margins on your paper to make it look longer than it actually is? Please. Oh, your computer crashed minutes before your assignment was due? Mmhmm. Oh, you swear you clicked the right answer on the quiz and the computer must have just reassigned the mark? Child’s play! We were all students at some point and if we didn’t try to use insane excuses on our teachers (which we totally did), we at least knew someone who did. I’m just like you. I would wait until the last minute to complete a paper because I felt like I worked better under pressure. I skipped reading assignments and tried to pretend like I’d done the reading (just once in awhile!) I screwed up my priorities and chose fun over studying on more than one occasion.

The point is, I’ve been there. We’ve all been there. And as a result of having been there, we can spot your tricks from a mile away. We also empathize. We know the pressure students are under to succeed. We’ve all paid tuition. We’ve all failed tests and struggled with a subject to the point of tears (for me, it’s math. It almost killed me.) We have been there. We were you. Approach us knowing that we were once you, and you might feel a lot better about talking to your teacher and being honest when honesty counts.

No one goes into teaching for the money-

Because there isn’t any. Your teachers are teaching for different reasons, and most of them have to do with caring about students and being passionate about a certain subject. Speaking of subjects…

We love our subjects and it hurts us when you hate them so much-

I love creative writing. I love it so much I went to graduate school for it and now I have ugly student loan bills to pay every month, just because I loved too much (see, we have student loans, too!) Because I love creative writing, it bums me out when someone flat out says that they HATE what I love. It’s like telling me my child is ugly. I get it though; like I’ve mentioned many times before, I’m not a fan of math. I’m bad at it, and no one ever showed me real passion for it. All I ask is that when you enter a new class, give the teacher a chance to show you some true passion for the subject before you tell her that you hate what she’s dedicated her life to. It’s common courtesy.

These are just a few of many things I’d like students to remember about teachers. The more we understand each other, the more progress we can make–together.

Awww. Togetherness.

What do you want teachers to remember or know about you?


About Jaclyn Sullivan

I'm a full time Instructional Designer and a sometimes adjunct professor of English Composition. I have a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida and I'm a published fiction and non-fiction writer. Check me out on LinkedIn: I'm a big fan of post-modern literature and swear by the lessons of Kurt Vonnegut. Some of my favorite writers include Lorrie Moore, Antonya Nelson, Grace Paley, Flannery O'Connor, Louise Erdrich, and Raymond Carver. I like Tom Waits, Andrew Bird, actual birds, pictures of cats, actual cats, animals in general, polka dots, exercise, iced coffee, reading, writing, tv-viewing, the Internet, and food. I dislike rain on days when my hair looks good, sweating, t-rex arms, public bathrooms, books being made into awful movies, and when The Walking Dead is on hiatus.
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4 Responses to It Takes Two: What You Should Know About Teachers

  1. Beautiful post! I agree, being a teacher is like being a parent. All the best!

  2. Donna says:

    jaclyn, I discovered this blog while trying to help a student write an author study of you! It’s very difficult to find biographical information about your life and career. Anyway, I really appreciated this blog and I’m glad I discovered it.
    Is there any information you would like to share with my fifth grade student? She is presenting a book talk about what’s in your chicken nugget? Thanks. Dlb

    • Donna, I am so very sorry that I never responded to this! For some reason I JUST got a notification about it, over a year later! I appreciate your interest and I hope your student was able to get some information from this page. I’d love to see her report if you have a copy.

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