I am often asked what I do for work. And it can be difficult explaining to many people. I have several friends who also find it a bit of a challenge. If I say I am a teacher, people expect me to be affiliated with a school and have a classroom filled with students. If I say I am a SpEd Teacher, they expect me to know Braille or Sign Language. If I say I am a freelancer, most faces get big question marks on it. If I say I am an online freelancer, I am a MLM networker or even a scammer! But I am mostly what I have mentioned. I am an educator teaching without a classroom.
I have been teaching for a little over two decades now and have had my fair share of different platforms. I began my younger years as an early childhood educator and a tutor. I have taught vocational, college and university students. I have taught SEN (Special Education Needs) children on a one-on-one, small group and resource room setting. My first non-classroom teaching was as a Behavior Coach for adolescents with Type I Diabetes and a Facilitator for family dynamics. And now, still teaching without a classroom, as a global online teacher. I teach English to non-English speakers. Quite recently, I have began teaching a SEN child online too.
I know many teachers, especially teachers of SEN children who are teaching without a classroom of their own. I also know many teachers engaging in teaching English online, either full-time or part-time. Teaching without a classroom is no reason of shame. We are not less of who we are because we have opted to teach without a classroom. I have complete respect and give my high salute to teachers juggling the classroom jungle. But, I have complete respect for those who have taken a different route.
Teaching without a classroom does not make teachers non-teachers. In the greater picture of life, everyone is a teacher, anyway. In the smaller picture, many of us who have chosen to teach without a classroom continue to touch lives in different ways. There is an adage that says: “The TEACHER is MORE IMPORTANT than WHAT they TEACH.” More importantly, better than where they teach.
Teaching outside a classroom has allowed me to touch struggling children individually. It has made me a part of several families’ journey collectively. I have seen lives improved by better academic grades, better social performance and even better professional opportunities.
Our societies have gotten much into the habit of discrediting people and worst, shaming. I have many times heard, and so has friends, that reference of “just a…” Tutors are tutors and not “just a tutor”. SpEd Para or Shadow is not “just a SpEd Para or Shadow”. It is not “just a Behavior Coach” or “just an online English teacher”. and yeah..in fact, there even is that “just a Teacher” thing too. it’s like saying Superman is JUST Clark Kent!
For reasonable reasons…No one is “JUST A”. Everyone is someone. And as cliche as it may be, everyone is going through his own circumstances and battles. Everyone’s choices has it’s own reason. Respect. You are not in their circumstances and battles. You may not understand or appreciate their reasons. It is not yours. Respect it, leave it.
As for me….at these moments, I am content being a global teacher teaching without a classroom. Occasionally, I still do assessment and coaching for SEN children. Most importantly, I am busying myself with my greatest teaching job – parenting. We often don’t realize it (or let alone, forget it), but parents are a child’s first teachers.