You may be surprised to learn that the one, and only, title that disorients me more than being addressed as, “Mrs. Corse,” is “teacher,” even when it was my technical label for ten years. That’s right, I will respond to, “Hey - You, Maria, Miss Maria (with less enthusiasm), or even Weirdo”; however, I will not answer, or even look up, if someone calls me teacher.
In my mind, to be a teacher one must, well, intentionally teach. If you are interested, here are the Merriam Webster definitions and synonyms for teacher and teach. At this point, I want to be very clear, I am not, in any way, denigrating those dedicated individuals who do, joyfully, fervently, and contently identify as teachers.
I am a decidedly independent (read - stubborn), hands-on individual, who learns by doing, but only when intensely interested in the subject at hand – not with direct instruction, rote memorization, or by reading text books. And, since I also firmly believe (based on a multitude of experiences) that authentic learning comes from intrinsic desire, developed and fostered in a safe, non-coercive, playful, and dynamic environment filled with resources and materials of the culture, as well as a supportive, mixed-age community, it would be antithetical, and, lets be honest, hypocritical for me adopt that classification.
I do, however, proudly own the titles: mentor, facilitator, and guide. In those self-designated roles, I ask a million questions, listen carefully, and make suggestions. I nurture curiosity, open-play, intent observation, and investigation by providing the resources and opportunities necessary for each individual to freely explore their interests and make profound personal discoveries. I model compassion, kindness, empathy, spirit, and enthusiasm, as well as a willingness to make mistakes, laugh at myself, and attain valuable lessons from those errors in my pursuit of life-long learning adventures. I expect that every single person I work with is willing to embrace their uniquely, weird selves, and that they are going to be dedicated to their own education, invest energy in their personal growth, work toward their aspirations, get messy, and have a ton of fun in the process.