March 31, 2010

Who Knew? Teachers Are People Too!

garyBy Gary Metivier

Teachers can be scary. Okay, maybe a better word is ‘intimidating.’ But did you know teachers are people too? Some of them are parents. Some of them go to church. And from what I hear, all of them go to restaurants to eat from time to time and may partake in an occasional glass of wine. Who knew!

As I child I remember thinking that maybe the teachers lived at school. I just couldn’t picture them any other way. As I got a little older, I realized they lived in homes too. But I figured they spent all of their waking hours grading papers and coming up with ways to trip us up the next day. Did they really enjoy those ‘pop quizzes’ that gave us sudden flop sweats?

Over the past two years I have gotten to know a lot of teachers as I have visited more than 200 schools with my Willie’s Wagon book presentations. I am old enough now to see that teachers are as varied as the rest of us. Some are night owls, some are procrastinators (like me when it comes to turning in my articles—and my taxes!), but all of the teachers I have met have one thing in common— they put their students first.

I was honored to be invited to attend the second largest gathering of educators in the world for the Illinois Reading Council conference in Springfield, Illinois. It was my first time to present to teachers I didn’t know—or who didn’t know me. I must admit I was a bit nervous. My presentation was centered on my Willie’s Wagon children book series (see to see a new sample of my presentation on the ‘school visit’ page).

My topic was on using props and an interactive program to promote reading and keeping children engaged. My concern right now was how to keep the teachers engaged in my discussion. So, who else do I turn to for advice? Some of my teacher friends who are always just an email away. Armed with their words of wisdom we had a successful showing in Springfield. In my early morning session I met many more teachers from all over the state of Illinois searching for the next best thing to bring to their students. I can only hope some of them found the Willie’s Wagon concept one of those things. There were smiles at the parts where I showed how local school children were inspired to help others. There were tears when I showed the video of my trip to the Heart Connection cancer camp that we are trying to help support. And there were lots of inquiries into potential visits to their schools.

And as I learned about how to present to educators—I learned more about teachers as people. Yes, some of those teachers have to drink
coffee like me before they can speak clearly in the morning. A couple of the teachers slipped into my small meeting room a little late without a tardy slip (they crouched down low as if I couldn’t see them slipping into the closest chair they could safely reach). And all of them have a life mission to keep learning so that they can help our kids learn. Who knew? Teachers are people too.