The Many Hats a Teacher Wears On a Daily Basis

2 min


Forget Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton. Teachers are the real fascinators when it comes to pulling off the latest and best in headgear. Skip this month’s edition of Vogue and head down to your local middle school if you’re interested in seeing bold statements from real people who wear ALL the hats. Here are just a few trending looks in education.

1. Content Expert.

That's what I do. I drink and I know things. GIF

While modern teachers wear many fashion-forward hats, there is something to be said for old-school content knowledge. Sure, the less focused students may need a hundred reminders about which page they should be on (“273!”), but they all notice immediately when a teacher has slipped out of their content knowledge comfort zone. It’s not a good look. Frankly, it makes everyone uncomfortable.

2. Comedian. Or Rock Star….

Beyonce on stage GIF

Either is fine, or both! The point is: good teachers have an act. In the old days, Mrs. Beckleheimer could simply write an assignment on the board in perfect, sweeping script, and then spend the rest of the hour hawkishly scoping the room for chewing gum violations. But the contemporary educator understands that student engagement requires something more analogous to a Super Bowl half-time show. (If you can swing in on a rope, even better!)

3. Ringmaster.

magician GIF_ hats teachers wear

The classroom is a circus with a minimum of three rings, one of which may involve flaming hoops, or, at the very least, some contraband hot fries. Teachers manage each ring simultaneously, looking utterly unruffled and even casually debonair in a traditional black top hat.

4. Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah Winfrey GIF

YOU get a pencil, and YOU get a pencil, and YOU get a fourteenth copy of the handout you keep losing! Teachers give things away, often to audience members who don’t even seem excited about it.

5. Empath.

This is not so much a hat, as it is a pair of antennae. It’s how teachers know when to push a student and when to back off a little. It’s the voice that says maybe it’s best not to call home in this case, or that a certain student could really use those crackers in their desk drawer. It’s what makes the connection possible… and the connection is what makes EVERYTHING ELSE possible.

6. Counselor/ Life Coach.

Counselor GIF

Students’ needs are varied and often complex. They may approach a beloved teacher for guidance on their parents, their future, or their prom dress. Skilled teachers will tread carefully, but, to the extent that it’s appropriate, they will help out a student in need. Everything runs more smoothly in a classroom built on trust. Plus, someone has to steer Angela away from the gown with the mesh cut-out.

7. Detective.

Who farted? Whose handwriting is this? Who stole Mr. Johnson’s egg timer and set it to go off in the middle of my lesson? These are just some of the mysteries teachers solve on a daily basis.

8. Nurse.

Experienced high school teachers know that vomit and head lice are not restricted to K-5. Like any trained survivalist, teachers always keep the Band-Aids close, and the custodian closer.

9. Test Administrator/ Snake Oil Salesperson.

Unfortunately, in the U.S., teaching is testing. It seems like state tests take more and more class time each year. Teachers are not only expected to administer these tests but to champion standardized assessments to reluctant students, even when they are skeptical of the process, themselves. What teachers say: “This matters! Stick with it! Your name is on that; do work you can be proud of!” What they really think: “I call shenanigans! What a waste! Why should this affect my evaluation?”

10. Role Model.

Thank you gif_hats teachers wear

Ask around. Most teachers got into the business because they had at least one educator in their life who helped set their course: turned them on to Harry Potter; unlocked the Pythagorean theorem; modeled hard work; showed them kindness. The influence and support of a great teacher can last a lifetime. It shows up in our future passions, our work ethic, our treatment of others. A teacher’s influence is potent; it is infectious. That’s what makes a career in education so daunting, and so honorable.

With that, our hats go off to all the dedicated, exhausted, ever-fashionable teachers out there. And on those bad hair days when it feels like you can’t possibly juggle one more thing, just remember: as a famous cat once said, “We’re all mad here.” Mad as hatters…

The many hats of a teacher

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SallyWhite

Senior Member

I'm a public high school teacher specializing in English and Theatre Arts. On any given day, I summon the energy five times in a row to fire kids up about Shakespeare or semi-colons or the virtues of getting to class on time; then I move all of the desks out of the way and rehearse the school play in a building with no actual theatre. I love my kids, and I love teachers, and celebrating them is one of my favorite things in life. At night, I write.

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