The United Nations (UNESCO) has designated October 5 as World Teachers’ Day. Held annually since 1994, the day commemorates the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers, signed in 1966. The United Nations has designated this day as an opportunity to recognize the vital role of teachers in providing quality education at all levels.
Every day teachers have the privilege of working with children, youth and adults who will encounter a world we haven’t even yet imagined. Teachers have the privilege of helping each learner on their own personal pathway to greatness – be that curing an incurable disease, or reaching out and helping another human being who needs help. Something the majority of us have in common are teachers who have helped us become who we are.
Those of us committed to public education are also committed to serving all students who come to us. We do not select based on race, gender, socio-economic data or intellect. Rather we see each student as a human being with capabilities and potential – and a genious that is unique to them. I think it is the ability to understand each learner, and view a glimpse of the world they see, that makes a good teacher truly great.
Although there is a tremendous (and critical) emphasis on the science of teaching – and the practice that makes teaching the most effective, I believe that our most effective teachers are those who truly care about the human condition. Teachers want to make a difference every day in the lives of learners in their care – and instinctively they care about contributing to the betterment of the world. Our most effective teachers are rewarded by the successes of their students. They are called to the most important work we can do as human beings.
So – I encourage us all to think of the teachers who made a difference to us – and thank them. I thank all of the teachers who have contributed to “me” – be they those professionals who committed their lives to educating others, or those who have taught me important life lessons through serendipitous encounters. My life is what it is because of you; I thank you!