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What is a teacher?

By: Permanent Substitute / Extended Day Supervisor Jose Holliday

May 10, 2021

A teacher is a gardener. When I think of teaching and beginning a new school year, I am excited by the possibilities of what my students can grow to be. A teacher, much like a gardener, must consider if the environment is prepared for success. A new seed or plant will not be very successful if the conditions are not right to meet its needs to grow. The same can be said for a student. A student must be in an environment that has been set up to meet his or her needs and has been thoughtfully considered for success. A developmentally appropriate environment for plants is one in which there will be ample sunlight, good soil, and access to water. Also obstacles to its growth must be removed such as weeds. 

In comparison, a teacher must provide students with a caring relationship, interesting and engaging instruction, and developmentally appropriate materials. When a plant is not growing as it should, a gardener will look to the environment and consider what needs to be changed in order to best meet the needs of that particular plant. Much the same way, a good teacher will reflect upon the methods and materials being used along with the environment to make proper adjustments for optimal growth. These considerations also help to ensure effective classroom management as student needs, effective instruction and genuine care are provided.

A teacher must have a solid understanding of the goals he is trying to accomplish in the classroom with his students. This means providing the best possible environment with the best possible tools in order for those students to grow successfully — much like a gardener would do for the plants for which they are responsible. This may require digging beneath the surface in order to discover what may be holding growth back. Just because we are doing what is needed does not always mean the student is able, and this requires closer attention. 

If a plant is not growing as it should, a gardener will look at the environment the plant is provided and may be required to even dig beneath the dirt to see what is happening at the root to determine the best tools and methods that are needed to help the plant be more successful. When needs are met, a safe and caring environment is provided, and adequately armed with an extensive knowledge base, a teacher, much like a gardener, will be successful in growing and producing a harvest of learners.


Rossman School, nestled on a 20-acre campus in St. Louis, is a private preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (four years old) through Grade 6. The school’s mission is to provide a strong, well-balanced education in a nurturing school community committed to excellence. Dedicated to developing personal, nurturing relationships with each child, Rossman’s experienced educators provide a solid foundation in academics, athletics and arts while emphasizing strong character development and leadership skills.​ Request a free Rossman School brochure here.

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