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About teachers and icons

Teacher Einstein
Koen Timmers
by Koen Timmers
Educator - Author - Keynote speaker - Global Teacher Prize 2017 finalist

I stumbled upon this great article: Can You Design a Better Teacher Icon? (thanks to @kalpanakishore)

Personally I prefer to speak about learning, rather than teaching. But this article forced me to think about the teaching profession. When you search for teacher icons, in most cases you're confronted with a lot of cliches. Let's take a closer look! offers this interesting collection of icons:

teacher icons

  1. Teaching is very often related to a blackboard and instructing. However, we're in a era in which teaching is more than instructing. What about social constructivism and connectivism, in which a teacher is a coach or mentor. A guide who offers resources. Is teaching offering knowledge? 
  2. This icon is actually a good one. A polite student raises his/her hand. But what in a distance learning setting? When I teach via Skype for Business, my students ask questions using the chat and no hands are raised. At least not that I know of.
  3. A teacher is one who makes sure that students graduate? Or a teacher is a professor? Good one, but what about students who are learning without graduating? Is the person who guides you through a MOOC a teacher? In that case this icon is irrelevant. 
  4. This Einstein lookalike is a funny one. Is a teacher by definition a smart person? 
  5. To my humble opinion this is the best icon. A teacher is a person who is connected to other (smaller?) persons. Maybe the lines can become arrows to show the direction the knowledge is flowing. In case the knowledge is going from student to teacher, the students most likely becomes a teacher. BUT: this icon is more about instructing, isn't it? 

So, let's take a look at a definition of 'teacher'. 

A person or thing that teaches something; especially : a person whose job is to teach students about certain subjects


Interesting! A teacher can be a thing! So when I teach by reading a website, the computer is the teacher? If so all previous 5 icons will be unusable. 

A person who teaches or instructs, especially as a profession; instructor.


Hm... This narrow the teaching profession to instructing. I don't agree. offers icons which are more up to date. 

teacher icons

  1. This modern icon takes #edtech in account: using ICT to teach. 
  2. A teacher offers knowledge.
  3. A teacher is in dialogue with other (smaller) people.

So, what is my interpretation and thus my icon? 

A teacher is a person who offers knowledge or at least guides another person in finding information. A person who might be in dialogue or might use technology to enhance learning, who can inspire and sometimes mentors a student. Someone who offers a "Eureka" to someone. This is my result. 

Teacher icon

I'd love to hear you opinion! Take a look at other people's contributions #teachericon





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