All Are Teachers – All Are

My little 5 year old body was all a jitter as I was filled with both excitement and fear. Being the youngest, I had waited with great anticipation when my turn would finally come to get to go school. My brother had walked me to my kindergarten classroom and I was literally standing on the threshold of both the door and the beginning of the wonderful world of school. With a not so gentle shove my brother said, “Go on in!” And with that he was gone. 

Now completely frozen in anxiety still standing on said threshold an angelic voice came out of nowhere, “Hi there! Give me your hand and I’ll help you find your desk.” My life was changed forever in that moment. I had heard my brothers talk about these folks they called ‘teachers’, but I really had no idea what to expect. First impression…these are people who cared about you!

I have drank deeply from the well of education since that transformative encounter with a teacher. I am still a student, I am still an teacher, I have served / chaired education boards, have educational institutions as clients, have parented two lads through decades of the education world, have spent countless hours volunteering in teachers’ classrooms. All these years later my initial appreciation has grown exponentially and is only matched by my admiration for teachers. 

I have yet to meet a teacher who has shared with me their reason for teaching was to be rich and or famous. Rather, consistently I hear a deep calling, a vocation to help others learn and grow. Teaching is viewed as one of the most noble professions and when I’ve asked folks, “Tell me about one of your favorite teachers,” every person has a wonderful story about a teacher who changed their life.

For me, the teachers that have been the most influential were those who embodied a love of learning. They embraced a sense of wonder, creating a space where they, too, were learners. Or as I often say to groups I work with, “Let’s live in the Montessori model of, ‘All are teachers – All are learners’.” Benjamin Franklin is known to have said “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” It is in that space of wonder that transformation takes root.

I am truly grateful all the teachers in my life. For instilling my desire to be a life long learner. Those who created an understanding that the most powerful education experience is revelatory; opening my eyes, my mind, my soul to a wider and deeper awareness of the world around me and my place in it. 

“A pilgrim must be like a child who can approach everything with an attitude of wonder and awe and faith. Let’s pray for wonder. Let’s pray for awe. Let’s pray for desire, and ask God to take away our cynicism.”

-Richard Rohr

3 thoughts on “All Are Teachers – All Are”

  1. Betty Anne McCoy

    I know so many teachers who dedicate their lives to students of all ages and they have a special gift. Thank you for this tribute. I will share it with them. Betty Anne

  2. A Parable of Teaching

    An old man meets a young man who asks: “Do you remember me?”
    And the old man says no. Then the young man tells him he was his student, and the teacher asks: “What do you do, what do you do in life?”

    The young man answers: “Well, I became a teacher.”
    “Ah, how good, like me?” Asked the old man.
    “Well, yes. In fact, I became a teacher because you inspired me to be like you.”
    The old man, curious, asks the young man at what time he decided to become a teacher.

    And the young man tells him the following story: “One day, a friend of mine, also a student, came in with a nice new watch, and I decided I wanted it. I stole it; I took it out of his pocket.

    Shortly after, my friend noticed that his watch was missing and immediately complained to our teacher, who was you.

    Then you addressed the class saying, ‘This student’s watch was stolen during classes today. Whoever stole it, please return it.’

    I didn’t give it back because I didn’t want to.
    You closed the door and told us all to stand up and form a circle.
    You were going to search our pockets one by one until the watch was found.
    However, you told us to close our eyes, because you would only look for his watch if we all had our eyes closed.

    We did as instructed.
    You went from pocket to pocket, and when you went through my pocket, you found the watch and took it. You kept searching everyone’s pockets, and when you were done you said ‘Open your eyes. We have the watch.’

    You didn’t tell on me and you never mentioned the episode. You never said who stole the watch either. That day you saved my dignity forever. It was the most shameful day of my life.

    But this is also the day I decided not to become a thief, a bad person, whatever. You never said anything, nor did you even scold me or take me aside to give me a moral lesson.

    I received your message clearly.
    Thanks to you, I understood what a real educator needs to do.
    Do you remember this episode, professor?
    The old professor answered, ‘Yes, I remember the situation with the stolen watch, which I was looking for in everyone’s pocket. I didn’t remember you, because I also closed my eyes while looking.’

    This is the essence of teaching:
    If to correct you must humiliate; you don’t know how to teach.

  3. Douglas M. Carpenter

    Wow, what a story. It literally brought tears to these old eyes.
    The Rev. Bill Stoney was a teacher that had a strong influence on me. He was the Rector of Grace Church, Anniston, and in 1945 he was my cabin counsellor at Camp McDowell, located that year at Oak Mountain State Park near Birmingham. He taught us through stories and he taught us how to tell stories. My favorite stories were about the Rev. Dr. Albert Schweitzer who became a childhood hero of mine along with Bill Stoney. Schweitzer led me to a deep faith in Jesus at a time when I was agnostic. He taught me that the way to Jesus was a “foot, heart, head” adventure. I must first follow, before understanding. Then my heart would be warmed. And after that I would begin to understand. Stoney caused me to know as a twelve year old that I could and would always be a story teller.

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