There are a surprising number of superhero teachers out there. I love this. The first real superhero teacher I remember following was Marilyn Burns. By following, I mean, I bought all of her books and tried to teach the lessons as I imagined she would. When attending a NCTM conference where she was the keynote speaker, I got to her talk super early so I could get a front row seat and pretty much rushed the podium at the end for the chance to talk to her.
Fast forward twenty five years and there are lots of teacher superheroes out there. For sure, Marilyn is still number one in my book but now I've added the likes of Graham Fletcher, Jo Boaler, Marc Chubb and Tracy Zager to name a few. I have heroes on the ELA side too. Lucy Calkins tops this list. I also follow Irene Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell as well as Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. Although I buy books when they're available, I follow many of these educators on Twitter. I am easily inspired by these superheroes and the seemingly countless number of educators out there who are doing amazing things. What is remarkable is just how willing educators are to share their work for free so that their impact can increase. In other words, these educators care so much about children and their learning that they share their work through tweets and blogs and websites. We're all better for it and the quality of education in America's public schoolrooms is undoubtedly better for it too.
So, what's the problem? There really shouldn't be a problem. Really, no problem at all. But, if I'm being honest, there is a problem. I don't measure up. Not at all. Not in any way. And why is this even part of the conversation? Why can't I just learn from these greats, improve my craft, increase the power of my instruction and go on my merry little way feeling blessed because my load has been lightened thanks to the smart and generous sharing of others? Instead, the nasty little byproduct of the hero teachers and their sharing becomes my low teacher self-esteem. Seriously. It is true. Even now, as I'm eleven days in to writing a blog I can say with fair certainty, no one will ever read, I worry that it doesn't measure up. Don't get me wrong, I'm NOT aspiring to be a superhero teacher myself. There is way too much pressure in that for me. Instead, I want to have the sense that what I'm doing is important and smart and that someone else might find value in it too. I read some of these books and blogs and tweets and I marvel over how thoughtful and smart other educators are and while I'm grateful for their work, I wish I fit in among them.
What is absolutely true about each of these educators who I follow is that students and their learning are alway center stage for them. So, my big take away tonight is that every time I put my students and their learning center stage, I'm one step closer to the superhero teachers who I admire most.