Rita F. Pierson became a teacher in 1972. She taught elementary school, junior high, and special education. She was a counselor, a testing coordinator, and an assistant principal. In each of these roles, she always had a desire to get to know her students, show them how much they matter, and support them in their growth. Rita passed away in 2013, but she left a great legacy!
In this TedTalk, Rita gives an inspiring speech about what it means to be a teacher. She explains the calling of being a teacher and says:
"Teaching and learning should bring joy. How powerful would our world be if we had kids who were not afraid to take risks, who were not afraid to think, and who had a champion? Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be."
This was one of my favorite quotes from her TedTalk because it encourages us, as future educators, to be a champion for our students! Looking back to when I was in elementary school, my favorite teachers were the ones who always believed in me, never gave up on me, and made an effort to get to know me. They were MY champions, and because of them, I loved going to school and loved learning!
Another favorite part of mine was when Dr. Pierson said,
"Teachers become great actors and great actresses... We come to work when we don’t feel like it, and we’re listening to policy that doesn’t make sense – and we teach anyway."
Even though we are pursuing a career in a field we love, we will have our "off days," as everyone does. However, after watching this TedTalk and hearing Rita say this, I was reminded that even when we have our "off days," and even if the policy doesn't make sense, our main responsibility is to teach! Our main goal should be to help our students learn despite what's going on in the world or how we may be feeling.
The third quote that stood out to me is a simple, yet powerful one.
"We're born to make a difference."
Yes, as teachers we make a difference in our student's lives as we teach them content and help them learn the things they need to move on to the next grade and eventually go to college. However, teachers also cultivate strong relationships with their students which allow them to affect virtually every aspect of their student's lives. Educators teach the important life lessons that will help students succeed beyond essays and standardized tests. As teachers, we get to make a real impact. We promote wonder, discovery, questioning and thinking about things differently. We make learning fun and can help our students see their talents and worth in themselves. We allow our students to experience challenges and victories. We make a difference!
If you want to watch the whole TedTalk (and I 100% recommend you do!), click on the video down below.