Category Archives: to be a teacher

What about the title of “teacher”?

There is an interesting conversation that was started by Daniel La Gamba on Twitter, regarding the terms “sage on the stage” and “guide on the side” in reference to the changing role of the teacher.  It started with the following tweet and his attached blog post:

Daniel facilitates some great discussion on the topic and the following conversation on Twitter that has gone on for a few days, reminded me of why I love the medium so much.

In the pursuit of creating the new cool title for a teacher, maybe it is more important that we understand the role of a teacher, instead of trying to give it a new name.  Instead of saying, “You shouldn’t be a ‘sage on the stage’, but a ‘guide on the side'”, maybe it is about understanding the fluidity of the role.  That sometimes a teacher is the sage on the stage, and sometimes the teacher is the guide on the side.  Sometimes they are an “architect of learning experiences” but sometimes, they let the student design the experiences themselves.  Sometimes teachers can lead the learning, and sometimes they have to take part in the learning (in the classroom). Sometimes it is doing both at the same time.  This also doesn’t recognize when a teacher has to decide between when to be firm, and when to soften up.

Maybe we need to realize that for years, the title of “teacher” encompasses all of these things (and more), and instead of renaming the role, we just have to talk about the shifts that are happening, and how the best teachers in the world have always recognized that the title of “teacher” means a lot more than what we have given the term credit for.  Some of the best teachers I have ever known have done all of the things that I have discussed and so much more, and the title of “teacher” was one that was defined by how they brought the role to life, not how someone else named and defined it.

If we embrace  and understand that the role of the teacher can change multiple times daily, and that the title does not mean any one singular thing, we might spend less time trying to change the title, and more time focused on the actions that make it so meaningful in the first place.