What’s in a title – Are you a teacher or an educator?

I have the pleasure this year of serving as a National Teacher Fellow for the Hope Street Group. ¬†Hope Street Group is a nonpartisan edpolicy organization. I’m the first fellow from MI, so you will be hearing much about my experience on the blog this year. One of the suggestions they had for us at a national convening last week was the idea of creating a digital media strategy. I decided to make mine an “edmorningmessage”. I posed a question on Twitter, solicited responses, and at the end of the week (my attempt obviously lasted into next week) I hope to write a blog about it. ¬†Also at this convening, the debate arose of what we should label ourselves – teachers or educators? Are these merely synonyms? Nuances of language?

Posing this question on Twitter, I saw more of those in the profession embracing the label of “educator”, while others in traditional schools and roles preferred the term “teacher”. One person asked, “How you would define one over the other?” Another shared that their “business is education” so they would say “educator” because they are not always in front of students. Many of those participating in the Twitter conversation mentioned that they felt teacher did not incorporate the ways in which they were involved in the education community and that educator better encompassed all of these terms. However, most were also careful to point out that one word isn’t necessarily better than another?

Let me tell you my story.

I used to refer to myself as a teacher. Teaching defined my day-to-day interactions with my students and traditional modes of delivering course content at a small urban Chicago high school. Then I became a teacher leader at this same school and I felt myself started to shift my language. I felt as though I was interacting with students AND staff. Instead of just disseminating content I was engaging in leadership that involved more facets of education that centered around students rather than just centering on students. Subtly I began to sometimes call myself an educator.

Then I moved to Michigan. When I moved to Michigan I started developing and then moving into a full-blown hybrid teacher leadership role. My role includes instruction 2x per week, curriculum coordination, mentoring teachers, engaging in home visits and student contact. I started referring to myself as an educator and the title to me has stuck. I feel as though educator encompasses more of the roles and responsibilities that I have to do and is more flexible surrounding my teacher leadership role. Teacher is only ONE of the roles I do as an educator.

What about you? What do you call yourself?