TCHERS' VOICE / Professional Learning

One More Zero!


Editor's Note: Join Sarah and Teaching Channel in our goal to reach One Million Teachers by referring your friends and colleagues while earning more ways to win great prizes!

Dear One Millionth Tcher,

I’ve been thinking about you for a long time. I’ve been wondering if you would show up and what you’d be like if you did. Would you be finishing your first year in the classroom or would you be nearing your last? Would you arrive by happenstance or because someone else led you here? Would you be passionate and confident or feeling alone and misunderstood? Would you be from this side of the globe or from another? No matter how you got here or what shape you’re in, let me tell you what it means to all of us to have you, our one more zero.

It might be easy to recognize you as a placeholder, but you’re so much more than that. You’re a number all on your own, which is to say, you’ll always be our 1,000,000th user. You’ll remind us of the 999,999 that created the stairs you climbed on to get here. In turn, you’ll be the first stair to our 1,000,001st. You’re part of a continuum, part of a community, the newest member of a very large classroom.

When it comes to my own high school English classroom, people often ask me if I have a favorite book to teach. I always have the same answer: “Asking me that question is like asking me if I have a favorite child. But I can tell you that I have favorite introductions. I can’t wait to meet my students each year and think about the characters I’ll introduce them to. I can’t wait for Carter to meet Holden or Sanjay to meet Mersault. I somehow know that Santiago will speak to Karl, but Daisy will drive Sophie crazy.”

I feel the same way about you and the Teaching Channel library. I can’t wait for you to be amazed by Madeline Noonan and compelled by Sean McComb. I can’t wait for you to discover the joy of Mary Abdul-Wajid or the innovation of Tom Jenkins. I can’t wait for you to see yourself in Shilpa Duvoor or to imagine your potential through Kimberly Laurance. I can’t wait to find out who you gravitate to, which lessons grab you, which ones make you feel not so isolated.

Sometimes the number zero makes us think of absence, the nonexistent. I prefer to think of it as the gift of negative space. Because of you, we’ll see more, not less. Because of you, we’ll see differently and continue to do what Teaching Channel does best: take the invisible and make it the possible. I know Teaching Channel will do for you what it has done for me: reduced isolation, welcomed vulnerability, and helped me leap.

You’re not just our next zero, you’re now one of a million teachers and educators who have coalesced around the Teaching Channel belief that the ground zero of our profession is in the classroom, where learner meets learner. You are now part of a community of fellows who believe in the power of video to bring classrooms to life so that others may learn. You will be surrounded and challenged, welcomed and supported, just like the way in which you nurture your own students.

Let it not go unsaid, though, you’re not just one of a million, you’re also one in a million. You won’t be anonymous or just like everyone else. You’ll bring the differences we clamor for, the richness we need, the uniqueness that reminds us we need all kinds of teachers doing this work because we have all kinds of students. You’ll reinforce there’s no one way to be that best teacher; rather, there are as many ways as there are professionals, and your one-in-a-million way matters.

So, welcome. This classroom has been waiting for you.

Sarah Brown Wessling Signature

Sarah Brown Wessling is a high school English teacher in Johnston, Iowa. She is the 2010 National Teacher of the Year and Laureate Emeritus for Teaching Channel. You can follow her work at or connect with Sarah on Twitter: @SarahWessling.

Editor's Note: Join Sarah and Teaching Channel in our goal to reach One Million Teachers by referring your friends and colleagues while earning more ways to win great prizes!

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