Literacy Leadership Blog

News and reflections from experts and practitioners on the latest literacy research, events and daily practice

< Back

Teacher Appreciation Every Day! Reframing the "I'm Just a Teacher" Mentality

Categories: Education & Teaching, Educators, General, In the news

At Learning Ally, we appreciate teachers...not just today, but every day. 

Teachers work exceptionally hard to meet our students' academic and social-emotional needs. Many in our society still view teachers as "just a teacher," and too often, we hear, "I'm just a teacher," from teachers. We want to reframe this thinking, and dedicate this blog to the awesome teachers who serve our nation. Image of

Power in Four-Letters

An article in Psychology Today, "Just, a Four Letter Word to Use Cautiously," suggests the word "just" has a  strong meaning. See how often you use it in conversation to direct, even commandeer people’s attention. It’s fake objectivity, as though you are "just" calling a spade a spade -- rather than voicing an opinion. It’s a gambit to stop debate, to get people to adopt your opinion and "just" be done with whatever is occurring. Using "just" in a sentence is making a point, like the phrase, "I'm just a teacher." 

As a Matter of Fact

An estimated 55% of our nation’s teachers are thinking about leaving the profession? “Just” who will take over this monumental responsibility? Without teachers, where would we be? Teachers are facilitators, mentors, and lifelong learners. They are influencers. They connect us to knowledge. They uncover our passions and nurture our hopes. They help us discover talents. They guide us, mend us, and meld our future selves. They raise us up, and do big things for children, our communities, and our society. 

Appreciate Teachers Not "Just" Today, But Every Day 

Teaching is hard work. A typical teacher works "just" about 54 hours a week, with "just" under half of that time devoted to directly instructing students. When someone says, "Teachers are "just" teachers," reframe their mental view. Don’t buy into the story you have heard like,  "Teachers teach to have the summers off, or teachers are failing our kids, or teachers aren't good at other professions.”  Hogwash! Through these falsities, wonderful teachers believe that they "just" aren't good enough at what they do and carry that mentality with them. 

The Winston School of Education and Social Policy at Merrimack College recently commissioned The EdWeek Research Center to take a nationally representative survey of 1300 teachers. What did they find? Teacher dissatisfaction is at an all-time high. Heavier workloads are in part to blame. Add to that, the calls, emails, extracurricular activities, grading papers, the Pandemic, gun violence, increasing tensions about what they teach, where they teach, and how they teach, and varying degrees of parental involvement, it is no wonder why so many teachers believe they are "just a teacher." 

Dear Teachers

We need you. We care about you. We know you were destined to be a teacher. You have passion for children. You are committed to learning and knowledge. You hold a profound responsibility in your hands. We know! Take back your power. You are a leader, a vision caster. Guard your worthiness. Your impact is long and will not be forgotten.

Flip the Word 

Teachers are more than "just enough." Instead of "just," let’s say "justified," or "just the beginning," or" just in time." Encourage everyone, especially teachers, to think and say positive affirmations about the teaching profession. When teachers feel regarded, heard and cared for, they stay in their jobs. They give back to society. They care for our children and keep them safe. 

“Just like that," as more teachers feel appreciated, they wonder, they reflect, they are curious and eager to transform learning. They shine like the stars they are. No matter how many voices, movies, and media project faulty assumptions to describe teaching, it is not inferior. Teachers deserve our respect, better pay for sure, opportunities for professional development, and much more appreciation. “Just make it so!”

Join the Literacy Leader Movement

You can view this edwebinar, "How to Stop "I'm Just a Teacher Mentality that Fuels Burnout, presented by Dr. Terrie Noland, and join Learning Ally's educator community, where you will always know your worth. Your voice will always be heard, and you will be a part of a collective movement to transform literacy in your students. Become a literacy leader with us!

Sign up for the Whole Child Literacy Newsletter

Join our community and get the latest sent right to your inbox! Stay up to date on the latest news, research, and practical guidance.