The Daunting Task Of Being A Teacher


A Letter To The Teacher

by Kay Bisaillon

My eyes filled with tears as I read the blog post from Toby Price (@jedipadmaster) titled, “All I Need is One Chance.” The pleading and open vulnerability of his words deeply touched my heart as he asks, almost begs, his child’s teacher to give his son a chance to learn in ways that can’t always be graded.

Teach Him To Be Gentle With Gentle People

The letter to teacher from Mr. Price reminded me of another “letter to teacher.” This letter seems particularly timely, as school doors prepare to open once again for many students. The immortal words of Abraham Lincoln’s letter to his son’s teacher echo in my mind. (There is some debate if this was actually written by Abraham Lincoln, but regardless of author, the letter has a beautiful and timeless message).

        “Teach him, if you can the wonder of books, but also give him quiet time…to ponder the mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun and flowers on a green hillside. In the school teach him, it is more honourable to fail than to cheat… Teach him to have faith in his own ideas even if everyone tells that they are wrong…. Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with the tough….”

Learning Is Different For Everyone

Learning is personal.

Learning is different for everyone.

Learning is hard to define and measure.

Two people can read the same book, watch the same movie or complete the same lesson and have two very different learning experiences as a result. We realize this as educators and work hard to guide the learning to the desired outcome. Sometimes the guiding is effortless and sometimes the expression “pulling teeth” comes to mind. Often, students learn something different than the intended objective.

The desire skills listed in Abraham Lincoln’s letter are as important now as when the letter was written. How does one grade these desired skills? The job description of an educator is an amazing list better suited for a super hero.

“This is a big order,” as Abraham Lincoln says in his final comment.  Indeed it is a daunting task, yet when done correctly, the end result can change the world, one student at a time.

How amazing is that?

I wish all of those heading back to school a wonderful year and I look forward to learning with you.


The Daunting Task Of Being A Teacher; image attribution flickr user frontierofficial