Breaking the mould

To many, the role of a teacher is simply – to teach. My personal response to that question is to teach what exactly? The world of knowledge is so incredibly vast, where do I even begin?

We all have had that one teacher who throughout our teaching career stands out as the one who left a huge imprint on your heart. That teacher who made you feel like you were special and that absolutely anything was possible.That teacher who came up with creative and exciting ways to bring learning to life and whose rhymes and songs for teaching maths made it seem effortless. That teacher whose kindness and gentleness shone through with every smile and made you understand what it means to have passion. That teacher who challenged you to stretch yourself beyond your limits and to think for yourself. That teacher who helped you find your voice and empowered you to be bold in your actions. The role of a teacher should never be underestimated.

It is sometimes very difficult to sum up exactly what it is that we as teachers do to those who are not teachers, especially when the preconceived notion is that teachers simply teach, mark and have the benefit of long holidays. provides some interesting metaphors for describing the various different roles of a teacher which I found very relative to my own personal views on teaching.

WE as teachers are:

  • A coach and personal trainercoachAs many of us who have ever played sport or made use of a personal trainer to help reach our fitness goals can relate, a coach has the ability to drive an athlete to absolute exhaustion. To push them to be their very best and to motivate them to reach deep within themselves and believe that they are capable of achieving anything they set their mind to. A coach expresses disappointment when an athlete fails and utter joy when they succeed.


  • A 911 dispatcher – The very first person you hear when you dial for help is the dispatcher, who from the other end of the line assesses your needs, encourages a belief that all will be OK, coaches you through the first steps of response and then sends the necessary resources needed to rescue you. With this analogy in mind, I like to view my classroom as my own private ER wherein the emergency rescue lshutterstock_2773830771ies not only in the assisting to learn but also in the equipping of life skills and advise needed to overcome whatever personal challenge a child may be facing.


  • A tinder and flint – What is one without the other? On their own they don’t do much. Strike them together and under the right conditions they ignite a flame, one large enough to spread a wildfire of knowledge and influence. Personally, I love this image because it rings so true to what I have always believed about teaching and that is that we as teachers have as much to gain and learn from our students as they have from us. Just as I like to think that I try encourage, challenge and motivate the children in my class, they challenge and motivate me on a daily basis and the spark we ignite together should never be something that is contained within four walls. Instead, our influence on the children we teach should be our influence on the rest of the world. ignite-770x380
  • Juggler – Ever wonder how they do it? How jugglers are able to effortlessly fling 3,4,5 objects into the air without letting them fall? The answer – practice and co-ordination, both of which come with experience. We as teachers don’t always get it right, trust me I knsuspended in emptinessow! Managing meeting the needs of our students with Department criteria and number crunching, as well as touching base with colleagues and communicating with parents, marking and prepping for lessons all while somehow trying to have a personal life is a fine balancing act. The keyword being “balance” which for me, is a work in progress.



Artist – As the caption to to this site states, “teaching is a work of heart” and along artist-53-02

with that comes passion, emotion and great attention to detail. We as teachers should view the children we teach as masterpieces capable of going on to make their own mark in the world and leave lasting impressions on the hearts and minds of those who view them. You see, we don’t just mould minds, we mould hearts too.

Should you think of any creative metaphor to describe the role of a teacher, please comment and share:)





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