What it means to be teacher famous
Teachers know what it’s like to be famous. To be talked about around dinner tables, spotted in a grocery store, emulated by adoring fans and held dearly in the memories of students for a lifetime. Children remember formative experiences and people in their lives. They remember the mentors who made learning come alive. They remember patient coaches who nurtured their love of reading with vibrant read alouds. They remember days of discovery and one caring teacher who saw their strengths and believed in their power to be whoever and whatever they wanted to be.
Joy is intrinsic to our feeling of value and success in the teaching profession. It is a magical ingredient that when present, makes learning feel truly transformational and playful for children. Joy is also an extraordinary reward for us as educators.
Joy is also this: serious, hard work. To be famous to our children, we must create joy. The joy of reading a book we love, or of finishing that math problem, or of taking the time to sing together, to smile at one another. Our children will remember what your classroom felt like for them, a safe space for their learning.
My message for Teacher Appreciation week is this: be famous to your students in ways that make you happy too. You are an important chapter in a lifelong journey that each of your students is charting. While you may not get to see where this journey ends, you are leaving a legacy in that joyful serious work you do every day, leaving a lasting impression on each child. Embrace the power of your famousness, of your legacy building. Anchor your teaching to love and strength. Model the type of learner you want your students to become by embracing change and practicing what feels new in your own teaching journey. Do the things you love with your students. Tell them about the things you love, things from your own life and what you love about this work you do each day.
The poet Naomi Nye once wrote: “The river is famous to the fish.” People can be famous in many different ways. That story you read to a child today may change her life tomorrow. That kindness you shared with a struggling student may be what he remembers many, many years later. The wise teaching you shared about the teaching of writing may come back in that child’s memory years later when she is running a company or presenting a speech.
Thank you for your legacy, the one you are creating today and tomorrow and the next day, for all the children you serve. You are famous to them, never to be forgotten.
About Pam Allyn
Pam Allyn is a world-renowned literacy expert, author, and motivational speaker. She is the founding director of LitWorld, a global literacy initiative serving children across the United States and in more than 60 countries, and LitLife, a cutting-edge consulting group working with schools to enrich best practice teaching methods and building curriculum for reading and writing. She has written many books including an English/Language Arts Core Ready series that offers teachers ideas to make the most of their time in the classroom.
Pam received the 2013 Scholastic Literacy Champion Award, and is Scholastic’s Open a World of Possible Ambassador. She is a spokesperson for BIC Kids, championing BIC’s 2014 “Fight For Your Write” campaign. Pam was selected as a mentor for the 2013 Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative Fellowship to help young Egyptian women develop leadership skills. She was chosen as an inaugural W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fellow in April 2014, becoming a part of a national cohort of 20 fellows focusing on racial healing and equity. She is on the Advisory Boards of the Amherst College Center for Community Engagement, James Patterson’s ReadKiddoRead, the Pearson Foundation’s We Give Books, and the Millennium Cities Initiative Social Sector.