Sunday, May 4, 2008

What Doesn't Make A Good Teacher

Today's posting is all about the things that many teachers do that give them and others the perception that they are great, when in fact they are irrelevant to their students, their instruction is ineffective, and they embody a lot of bad qualities teachers shouldn't have. We all know these people, those teachers who walk the halls like they're changing the world. The ones who stay late and believe that their sacrifice means they are doing more, the ones who lecture their students and believe they've changed them forever. Yet, in the mind of every student, that teacher is a meaningless relic, and every word that went in one ear went right out the other. Hopefully if you're reading this, it doesn't describe you, if it does, it's not too late, but if it's not you, think of that teacher next door it does describe.

Here are many different things teachers do that they think makes them amazing teacher of the year candidates, but in reality, don't. And yes, I'm saying that many teacher of the year candidates aren't good teachers, it's a reality, we reward people for the wrong things in this profession.

  • Staying late does not make a teacher a martyr: I work at a school that has a 'give more of yourself' culture. I never stay late, I have kids at home, and plus I get everything done during the day. So I've always had difficulty with those teachers that stay until 7:00 everyday and come in on weekends, and then say "some of us care enough to give that extra 150%." Well, to me it means that you aren't efficient enough at your job to get it done the first time around. OK, this isn't bashing on everyone that stays late, just the ones who use it as reasoning to showcase how great they are.
  • Straight lines do not equal quality teaching: I know you know this person. That teacher who prides themselves in how straight and quiet their kids are in the hallway. Yes, good hallway behavior is nice, especially in elementary school, so you're not disrupting other classes. But come on, this doesn't make you a good teacher, it makes you a good drill sergeant.
  • The high test score teacher with the advanced students: There's one in every school. That teacher who somehow weaseled their way in to landing all the advanced students that year. They then sit back, watch dreams come true, and reap all the benefits when the kids score at high levels. DUH, they would have done that with my three-year-old as their teacher, stop patting yourself on the back.
  • The department head power hungry teacher: I've seen this a million times, and I'm still in my twenties. I was department head last year, and ran things by trusting everyone else. I delegated responsibilities, let everyone in my department know they didn't answer to me, that I was just there to keep it organized, and then this year I handed it off. I've seen so many department heads who DEMAND that decisions go through them, who DEMAND that they're kept in the loop on everything, and get all hurt when anything is done without their express consent. They also walk around like they're gods gift, but you know, they're not.
  • The boring teacher who doesn't teach anything but thinks they've changed the world: This is just reality. We're not changing the world, especially in 2nd grade. I see this all too often, teachers who act as if they're the students "last chance." OK, the kid is 7, they'll have more chances, stop acting like you're Ghandi or something, get over yourself, and teach.

It's fairly obvious I could go on forever here, so I'm going to stop. If you know of anything that should be added to this list, let me know.