OKTOY Blog: Teachers are superheroes

This past week I got to spend the day with teacher candidates at Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU) in Weatherford. It was a great opportunity to talk with future teachers.

OKTOY Jason Proctor poses with teacher candidates at Southwestern Oklahoma State University

I started by asking them one of my favorite questions: What kind of concerns or fears do you have as you prepare to set out upon this journey? Many of them share similar concerns — classroom management, dealing with parents, questioning whether or not they are effective, etc. Any one of these could have been a great topic of conversation on this day, but I chose to approach my discussion with them from a different angle.

SWOSU currently is running a “Teacher Candidates are Super” campaign. I tried to tailor my discussion to fit that theme. Superheroes all have at least one unique quality about them that differentiates them from the general public. Spider-Man can scale walls; Superman can fly; Captain America has super strength, speed and endurance. Likewise, all of them have civilian disguises. They can walk around unseen in a crowd, but in a moment’s notice they can do the impossible.

Teachers can be described in the same light. Randomly choose a dozen teachers and place them in a crowd and you may lose sight of them. But over time the SUPER teachers will reveal themselves.

We can all think of at least one teacher who stood out amongst the crowd. I asked the group to think about a SUPER teacher in their past. Then I asked them to share the one thing that made that teacher stand out. What was it that made that teacher SUPER? What was his or her SUPER power?

Here’s what I learned from a few of the responses: SUPER teachers are caring, encouraging and interactive; they give respect, attend others’ events, are great role models outside of class, maintain a consistent demeanor and put students first.

After hearing their responses of what qualities make a SUPER teacher, I asked a second question: Just like every superhero has an opposite, can you think of a poor teacher? Interestingly, the responses flowed much more quickly as they shared qualities that made the poor teacher stand out. Some examples included: having a lack of decency, respect or professionalism; relying on worksheets; staying behind a desk all day; and being selfish, negative or disconnected.

To me, the responses to the two questions fit perfectly with the superhero theme. SUPER teachers are super because they focus first on those around them. They understand that the relationships with their students are of the most importance. They are driven by a bigger purpose. Poor teachers are focused on an outcome and their own personal agenda.

Many of the fears and concerns of this group could be answered by just committing to the goal of becoming a SUPER teacher. Becoming a SUPER teacher is not a guarantee; it is a conscious decision daily. Teachers who commit to using their influence to impact lives for the better, I believe, will have fewer classroom management issues, fewer parent issues and will receive affirmation that they are effective in their positions.

We have many real-life superheroes among us. If you come across one of these SUPER teachers thank him or her.

Now imagine what it would look like if they all wore superhero attire. What would your SUPER teacher uniform look like?

By: Jason Proctor
2015 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year




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Last updated on November 14, 2014