When asked the question, “Who is your Educational Guru?” I sit with a blank stare on my face. I try to think of absolutely anyone that influenced me in my childhood years to become a teacher and no one comes to mind. I then try to think of my “Why?” Why did I choose to be a teacher? Well, if I were being honest, I didn’t decide to be a teacher because of an actual person in particular. I actually want to become a teacher because I never felt as though there was a teacher that ever stood out or who ever left an impact on me.
It wasn’t until college that I saw examples of teachers who inspired me. No, I am not talking about a professor. While I’m sure any professor reading this just about jumped out of their chair in excitement. I am talking about the teachers we learn about in college and the teachers who created education at the base and poured their soul into children. Teachers like Friedrich Froebel, Maria Montessori, John Dewey and so many others. These educators then became influencers to other educators and then those educators influenced others and so on and so forth.
But, I still haven’t answered the big question, “Who is your Educational Guru?” While I still am inspired by the teachers who have paved the path for education, my Educational Guru is someone who, I believe, walked that path throughout her entire teaching career, Rita Pierson.
Rita Pierson is an educator that I aspire to be. She builds relationships with her students and becomes someone that they respect and love all at the same time. When you are a teacher, you do not step into the classroom and immediately become this robot who would stand at the front of class, talk at the students, and then walk out of the classroom feeling accomplished and as though your work is done. When you step into the classroom, you want to build relationships. Get to know your students on a personal level and then that is when they will learn and be able to understand what you teach. Rita Pierson was passionate about relationships. She believes that that is the best way they will learn. Here is a quote from Rita Pierson herself,
“You know, kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”
Well, she’s not wrong! Kids won’t learn from a robot who does not want any part in getting to know them. They will learn from someone who gets to know them as a child first, and a student second.
Building a relationship with my students is my number one priority when I have my own classroom. I never had a teacher who would spend time talking with me about my life; got to know me on a personal level. I want to be a teacher my students will remember as someone who built a relationship with them. I want my students to know that I am human and not some strange robot. They deserve to have someone getting to know them and caring for them because unless you ask, you may never know what happens outside of the four walls of that classroom. This could be their best human interaction they get all week and why not spend it teaching them and loving them?
Want to learn more about Rita Pierson? Watch her TedTalk linked below!
Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.'” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.