Another dot in the blogosphere?

Delayed impact

Posted on: September 25, 2009

Teachers know that their efforts are likely to manifest only over after a long time. They bump into former students and they see how far they have come (or how far they have fallen).

What about teacher educators? When do we see the fruits of our labour? I recall telling one batch of my teacher trainees that, while my impact on them was important, I was more concerned about the impact they had on their students. So I guess my impact on teachers is over an even longer term.

By impact I don’t mean the “thank you” cards or handshakes I get when the course I facilitate is over. I am talking about shifts in mindsets and or major “ah-ha” moments when my former trainees become practitioners.

So it was a pleasant surprise for me to get an email from a teacher trainee I taught just one semester ago. He mentioned that it was only during his practicum that he realised the applications of the ICT course. He thanked me for “forcing” him to reflect by blogging and was grateful for the fact that I pushed him (and his peers) to think and work hard.

Teaching can be a thankless task and I do not mind because I see rewards in what I do each week. But that email was put a big smile on my face. More importantly, it reminded me to keep doing what I do.

6 Responses to "Delayed impact"

Congrats! I guess the saying is true: once a teacher, forever a teacher. Even if you are now a teacher educator, you’re still a teacher at heart, albeit an academic.


Actually, I had always wanted to be a teacher. Soon after I became one, I realised that I had to become an educator instead.

The schooling system did not allow me to be the educator I thought I could be, so I left. And now, even though there are barriers in the university system, I can be that educator. A teacher educator first, an academic a distant second. 😉


what’s the difference between an educator and a teacher ?


That’s cool! Looks like tertiary ed does give that extra freedom when it comes to a teacher becoming that educator.

Something for me to consider too. Hee. 😉


@Win Nie: Most people probably don’t see the difference between a teacher and an educator. I didn’t either until almost 10 years ago.

Back then I worked with a teacher in the USA who gave me her business card. Under her name was her title: Professional Educator. I asked myself the same question you asked, and by observing her and reflecting on my own practice and beliefs, my own definition of “educator” emerged. It is still emerging. Here is what I think so far…

Play an association game with people with the word “teacher” and you will get the typical responses. What you are unlikely to get immediately is “learner”. An educator is a learner first and always learning. An educator does not need to be told what textbooks and curriculum to adopt or professional development to go for. An educator is a professional who makes informed decisions in these areas. What other people call “innovation”, an educator will call reflective and constantly evolving practice.

An educator looks beyond the minds of students and into their values, attitudes and behaviours. An educator strives to be an all-rounder who models values, attitudes and behaviours in order to develop all-rounders.

An educator has the students’ best interests and futures in mind, not the curriculum or test scores. An educator has his/her head in the clouds (to get a bird’s eye view and to sense the environment) but his/her feet firmly planted on the ground.

I think there are many other differences between “teacher” and “educator” and these are not just semantic but deeply personal and philosophical. Whatever the differences, they guide the thoughts and behaviour of that person, and when you meet them, you realise there is something extra.

Teachers may be called to teach; educators are born to do what they do.


@Jeanie: Yes, there is more freedom, but you also have to make the time and space for it. It’s not a given! 😉


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