The Whole Student…the Whole Teacher.

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I am sure that as educators, we can first agree, that our role entails more than just curriculum. Certainly, we must continue to better ourselves “academically” in order to be relevant to our students. However, I submit to you that our role really extends far beyond the core content that we facilitate within the walls of the classroom. I posed the thought in the #FLedchat Educator Voxer group as a result of conversation with @TG_Neil (Twitter) “What does the idea of the whole teacher mean, in relationship to the whole student?” Interesting conversation was sparked, insomuch that as educators, we are constantly concerned with what we bring to the classroom and how, with little to no regard to ourselves as the whole teacher.

Clearly, students have needs, particularly in the developmental years of their education, needs that are physiological, psychological, physical and social. As educators, we are committed to meeting these needs, bridging gaps and providing the support that students need in order to learn effectively and develop into model citizens and contributors to life as we know it. As I mentioned in a personal and recent Twitter post “When your purpose is pulling at you, proceed with passion.” I have always believed that the role of an educator was a calling, not simply an occupation. Thus, it is a limitation to the call, when we view what do as just the passing on and cultivation of academic knowledge. If all the stories were to be told, perhaps our students have benefited more from the small acts of care and concern than the huge academic feats. We do all we can to meet the “other” needs that our students have, outside of academic learning, life lessons, life needs.

So the question I have is this: “How can we benefit our students if we never consider ourselves?” The point I am trying to make is that just as we know students have needs that must be met, teachers also have the academic (professional development/book study), physiological, and social needs. I am grateful to the interaction and connection had with educators around the world through Voxer and Twitter, because in that space, there is opportunity to develop personally as an educator as well as opportunities to socialize with other educators. It had come up that some of us put our individual passions and loves to the side for our profession. Notably so, it is these things that make us who we are. Educator to educator, is there a role that we have to ensure that fellow educators in our PLN are true to themselves?

What is the balance between educator passionate pursuit and the facets of our individuality that make us who we are? How do you maintain those hobbies and activities that you enjoy personally as an educator, while leading students to do great things? We are no good to our students when we forget ourselves. It is not a bad thing at all to passionately pursue within our educator role, and I believe further that the ones who are doing so are desperately needed today in order to revolutionize the field. Therefore in no way am I suggesting that we step away from that, but rather identifying how we balance all aspects of the teacher, the whole teacher. I personally like to sing and write, as two personal activities. I would not be who I am if I did not do those things. Not to mention that these are things I bring WITH me into the classroom on a daily basis.

Consider what it means to be the “whole teacher” as we strive to meet the needs of the “whole student.” After all, to not look at a student as a whole, we be limiting the educational experience the student has. One aspect influences another. And all aspects make up the total.

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