Teaching With Dignity

A quick web search for the definition of dignity… “bearing, conduct, or speech indicative of self-respect or appreciation of the formality or gravity of an occasion or situation.”

I like the part “… appreciation of the gravity of a situation.”

My questions for you today are:

“Does your job as a teacher reflect the dignity it should?” and “Do we understand the gravity of what a teacher should be?”


A few weeks ago, I alluded to the notion that I believe too many teachers downplay that teaching is a privilege, and not everyone can or wants to do it.  Many people say they have respect for teachers and they are probably sincere.  However, teaching has to be a profession that represents your self-respect.

How does that look?

Having dignity as a teacher shows…

An endless opportunity to give.

Every teacher should teach with a goal of helping others in mind. Teachers are part of a solution that has the opportunity to improve society.  I am sure that other professions can have that type of empowerment, but teaching has to be at the top of the list.

Doing what is right.

When we do what is right, we often have to forgo what is easy.  Do we teach the “right way?” Do we teach the children that walk into the classrooms the same way we teach our children at home? If we ever take the time to see the students we teach as our own; teaching and learning will take on a whole new level.

Changing the way we look at others.

Understand this: it is not about YOU.  When we realize this, our ability to listen to and learn from others enables us to be better. When it is about ourselves, we miss the opportunity to treat others with respect.  If you can ever have an appreciation of your dignity, then you can begin to have an appreciation of others.

No one can give you dignity. There is not a “dignity” line to stand in.  It is one of the few characteristics that we must go out and get for ourselves.  As teachers (and leaders for that matter), our dignity reveals so much about us.  Let others see that we take pride in what we do, that we have self-respect, and accept the gravity of the situation of educating the future.

We might not always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but that does not mean we don’t use our flashlights or light candles to help shine the way until we do.


©2018 J Clay Norton

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What You See Is What You Get…

The key to effective teaching is subject matter knowledge. But more important than that is your ability to convey your understanding, while at the same time being able to bridge the gap of teacher-student relationships. Teachers who do not foster relationships with their students in and out of the classroom forfeit their sincerity, authenticity, and transparency.

So… As a teacher, do your students see what they get from you?

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I believe in answering that statement; a teacher needs to have two characteristics.

One, be a servant-teacher…

How many teachers do you know that make the classroom all about them? I find these type of teachers having poor student interaction and have difficulty with their classroom management. The goal of a teacher should be to “get” their students to enjoy coming to your classroom for the right reasons. If that can be the case, then maybe, just maybe, they might give the subject matter a better chance, even if they dislike the class.

Being a servant-teacher requires intentionality with being who you say you are. It means having an understanding of the lives of your students. It means that you grow your students from the inside out. If you can change their heart, hopefully you can change their mind. Servant-teacher means you put them first. Empower them with ownership.

Two, be an example to follow…

The power of teaching has a direct proportion to the character of the teacher. The great concept about everyone we interact with is knowing if we like or dislike the example they portray. It does not take a student long to figure out what you see is what you get with teachers. Our students are much smarter then we give them credit for sometimes.

Christian author and speaker Josh McDowell said it like this, “You can con a con and kid a kid, but you cannot con a kid.”

Think on it like this… The example you provide might just be the only example a student sees as to how they should be. There are enough terrible examples in society for their picking. Give them an option for positive models for the betterment of themselves.

Teaching is a privilege, and not everyone can or wants to do it. Nothing we do as an educator gives more pleasure than to see a student succeed. Be the servant-teacher, and the example students need to see.


©2018 J Clay Norton

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The Call of Teaching: A Crisis in Need

First and foremost, we need good teachers.  Yes, believe it or not, there is a crisis in education.  One, there are not enough teachers in our schools, and there are not enough people wanting to be in education.  Two, and yes this will sound harsh, there are not enough teachers in schools who view education as a crisis in need.


To view something like a crisis, one must feel it in their heart and deep down in their soul. At some point, we all stand at a crossroad and have to decide how we feel about an issue.  When this happens, we must step out and understand that teachers who have their heart in the right place towards education can only help the crisis.

Teaching should be like anything else you love; it should capture your heart. When someone captures your heart, you carry yourself a little differently.  I would dare say; you certainly would not want to let the person down you love and would do anything to stay in good standing with them.  The same should go with why and how we teach.

This crisis we see should tear our hearts, and the gravitational pull should be like the sun; everything revolves around the students, wanting them to see and understand that education is their ticket to the future. The “want” to teach becomes a heavy burden that can only be answered from inside the heart. Many teachers teach, but how many really “want” to teach?

I am proud to be an educator, are you?  How many teachers do you know that when asking what they do, downplay teaching? Too many people walk away from teaching instead of walking towards teaching.

The call to teach is confronted with the overwhelming sense of a desire, a gift, the right character, and a “want” to see the crisis that is at hand… and a little humility goes a long way that grips your soul to the point that it encounters the need to teach.  Each of these we have discussed over the past three weeks and today.

Be the teacher you want to be.  Be the teacher you want your children to have.  Be the teacher you are called to be.  Education will be better for it.  The call to teach is powerful; embrace it.


©2018 J Clay Norton

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The Call of Teaching: Character

Ok… Here we go with part three of the call of teaching… CHARACTER

The call of teaching must also include character. Now, there are many quotes and thoughts on character out there; so many that they can all end up meaning the same thing. However, when we look at character as it relates to the call of teaching, it takes on a new definition.


As educators, our work must be characterized by the pursuit of modeling the message of character. Here is a question that all teachers should ask, “Would you want to be taught as you teach?” If yes, then ok. If not, then your teaching has serious character problems. We have all heard the adage, “practice what you preach (teach).”

Having character as a teacher should be non-negotiable. Part of having the right character is having maturity. What a teacher is, is much more valuable than what a teacher does. A teacher’s character, which includes maturity along with integrity, is a leading indicator if they possess the call to teach.

I believe teachers fall into two groups; those that see teaching as a calling and those that see it as a job. Those who answer the call of teaching must teach as they live; a life that is worth emulating by others. The character must demonstrate the message you send. This does not mean that we always teach perfectly, but it does say that the character we have is from the heart. More importantly, the character you have and the character you bring to the classroom is seen by others.

As you examine your teaching, start with your character. One thing is true… you can never separate who you say you are with what you say you believe in.

Next week we will talk about: Crisis from within for good…


©2018 J Clay Norton

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