I Am a Teacher: A Pledge of Commitment and Unity

Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week

In celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week, we honor real superheroes who often don’t get the gratitude that they deserve. These leaders spark impact, inspire change and hold a deep commitment to care and learning. It is these individuals who so selflessly give their time and dedication to ensure education and innovation remain the pathways to our future generations’ bright future.

So let us honor educators. The difference makers who inspire learners every day.

In the medical community, Florence Nightingale helped to create modern nursing through a unifying pledge that all nurses say upon graduation. These words help to unite the profession and the people in it one force for good. A section of the pledge goes like this:

“I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping  and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.”

There’s a moment right now in education, for a “Florence Nightingale of Teaching” to step up and create a pledge that can bring union and community together around the work, profession, commitment and selflessness that is the act of teaching.

The last 14 months have put a spotlight of the power of dedicated teachers and their commitment to youth, no matter what. We’ve seen it in viral TikTok videos from Kindergarten teachers doing whatever they can to keep young learners engaged via virtual learning to secondary teachers using Cardi B to teach alliteration. We’ve seen it as teachers made masks and face shields for their community and delivered meals to families to make sure youth are fueled and ready for virtual school. Educators have worked tirelessly to rethink learning, safe return to schools and needed support for learners and families. Teachers have shown up with masks on, sanitizer ready and excitement for their students. They have continued to do everything in their power to engage learners during an uncertain year for all.

Teaching is often a thankless job. More than any year in recent history, the power of teachers and their impact on children and families are front and center. Teachers have always known what a difference they could make in the lives of students and the need to serve learners every day, no matter what. Although not as formally as a nurse or doctor, teachers silently pledge every day to do no harm, to believe in all students. If teachers did have a formal oath, we imagine it would go something like the pledge below.

Teacher Pledge

If the children are to be well, it starts with me.
Not me alone, but a whole community.
I am only a voice, one advocate, one protector, one guide,
I cannot do it alone, I need others by my side.
Children are the future, their success and failures affect us all,
By committing to serve all kids, not some kids, but all kids, we will rise again from this never-ending fall…
Of education,
Of the same education,
Of choosing who can and can’t learn,
Who should or shouldn’t earn,
Based on their zip code, their race, their diversity, their life,
We say all kids can learn. The ones that catch on easy. The ones who struggle to read and write?
I am a teacher.
I repeat, I AM A TEACHER!
I don’t pick and choose the kids who I get to teach.
I pledge to be committed to the students that walk through my doors and I will serve them no matter how far the reach.
I pledge to see all the differences in my students and celebrate each and every one,
I pledge to instill pride in who they are and help them see who they will become.
I pledge to stand up for them and show up when they’re in need,
I pledge to march with them, hand-in-hand. Let my actions be what they see.
I pledge to make learning come alive and give them experiences they’ll never forget,
I pledge to make learning not feel like a solo act but always a duet.
I pledge to know what my students want to be and treat them with care,
I pledge to nurture the whole-child and not just a body in a chair.
I pledge to be a teacher, for that’s what I am and will always be,
I am a teacher and learning isn’t about me but we.

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Shawnee

Rashawn Caruthers

Rashawn "Shawnee" Caruthers is the Director of Educator Engagement at Getting Smart and is a longtime educator with a background in marketing, journalism and advertising. She has a particular interest in CTE, words and empowering young people to control their own narrative.

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