The Educator’s Journey(s)

In our careers as educators, we have all seen a wide variety of approaches that our colleagues take to do their work. All of us tend to speak, sometimes glibly, about the fact that we are called to our work by God; we speak of our work as vocation. But we know from personal experience and from our observation of others that how we work out that vocation, how we journey along the path of this calling, varies widely from person to person, and even within the different stages of our own careers.

In one sense, that is not surprising. We know that our students learn and relate differently depending on many factors, including the class that they are in, the people they are with, their aptitude for and interest in a certain subject, and their age. And research has shown that adults also learn and relate to others in many different ways. We, too, are shaped as educators by our personalities, by the people we work with, the students we teach, and by the events of life that affect us—even when those events may have little or nothing to do with our work. We are also affected by where we are in our careers. A beginning teacher clearly experiences teaching and learning in a very different way from a veteran teacher. We face the inescapable fact that as educators we are all very different people. Those differences can obviously enrich the learning and teaching experience that students and teachers have. But they also require that as communities of educators we are very intentional about supporting and encouraging one another and making room for our differences.

In addition to some of our regular columns, this issue features a series of articles about the different ways in which educators relate to their work. These articles grew out of a 2014 summer course in the doctorate in education program at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. In addition to the authors who are featured here, a number of others (Lynn Abeln, Matt Beimers, Carissa DeYoung, Amy Fast, and Liza Zehner) also contributed to the conversations that led to these articles and their ideas are reflected in the articles that follow.

We offer these articles to our readers with the hope that they will lead to a rich conversation about who we are as educators, and to a deeper understanding of how and why we relate to our work in the way we do. Such conversation can enhance our appreciation of colleagues and give us a better sense of how we can work together in communities of learning that will benefit our students.