Another article which discusses the personality traits of a ‘great’ teacher states that ‘a great teacher must be dedicated to their students, with an unwavering commitment to their education and well-being’. 3 Additionally, the Ministry of Education for Guyana goes on to list the qualities of a dedicated teacher including features such as fairness, accessibility, organization, empathy and curiosity. 4
Interestingly, there is a commonality amongst these different articles, which is about putting time and effort into the profession, clearly something that cannot be argued with. However, what also stands out seems to be a general consensus that to be a dedicated teacher means putting the students, the profession and the many tasks that it involves, before yourself.
Is this really a true image of what being a dedicated teacher looks like? Is this really something we should all be striving for?
Surely a woman doing work in the bed that she is about to deliver a child in should not be celebrated, but in actual fact seen as a reflection of how much we as teachers can be willing to put others first, possibly to the detriment of ourselves and what is happening in our own lives.
It also seems that there is a key element missing from these descriptions of what it is to be a dedicated teacher. There is no mention of the importance of a teacher looking after and nurturing themselves so that they are then physically and emotionally more prepared to do all the work that needs to be done and be able treat the students with a similar quality.
Could it be that as professionals, we can only truly be dedicated to our students when we show the same level of dedication to our own well-being first?
Therefore, we go back to the original question. What is it to be a dedicated teacher?
A dedicated teacher is first and foremost dedicated to their own well-being, which then allows them to bring the same dedication and quality to all areas of their life, including their work and the students they teach.