How Different Are Teachers From One Another
No two teachers use the same lens when they view teaching as a profession. They don’t have the same set of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values either. Like their fingerprints, their mindsets, tendencies and other personal qualities are very unlikely to be identical.
Even if teachers are made to use a similar lens, they would still look at their job (as teachers) differently. They have perspectives, educational and personal, that are uniquely theirs – or some of them may have none at all.
When given the same course syllabus, we should not expect them to map out their daily lesson plans in the same manner. They would design learning activities and deliver or carry them out in ways they see fit. Some would not bother to plan anything
The work attitudes of teachers are also not the same.
There are those who are so conscious about the number of hours they are required to serve as stipulated in their contracts. You could not expect them to go overtime and do extra job – unless you give them extra pay.
Conversely, there are teachers who are willing to go the extra mile. They assist their students beyond their assigned teaching hours and volunteer for tasks and do things not written in their job description, expecting nothing in return.
Of course, the worst are those teachers who either come to class late or dismiss their classes earlier than expected – or both. For reasons only them know, they do not perform their assigned tasks the way they ought to. They submit required paperwork either late or not at all.
If you are a teacher reading this, here is a question for you, “In which of the three groups do you belong? Of course, only you know. At the very least, be not the one described in the paragraph right above this one.
There are teachers who are eternal fault-finders always trying to find something wrong – either with the policies being implemented or with their colleagues and administrators. And should they succeed in finding one, they would either whine or gossip about it, or both.
Teachers also differ in the way they treat their students.
Some teachers would set standards that are difficult to achieve while others know how to calibrate their standards to give even the slowest of learners a chance to succeed. There are teachers who have “one-size-fits-all” mentality thinking that educational processes and approaches to teaching and learning are standard and could not be tailored to meet individual needs. Conversely, they have counterparts who understand that students have different learning styles, abilities, and personal backgrounds. They know that they must recognize the uniqueness of each student (or groups of students) and differentiate their methods and strategies as teachers. These teachers don’t believe that standards are absolute.
Describing how teachers are different from one another could boil down to the following statements: 1. There are teachers who display both passion and compassion – they are passionate about their job and compassionate to their students; 2. There are teachers who have only one of the two; and 3. There are teachers who do not have both.
And again, if you are a teacher reading this, here is another question for you, “Which of the three statements in the paragraph above applies to you?”
If it’s the third one, you could be in the wrong profession. Think about it.
Now, let’s try to find out why teachers are not the same.
In doing so, let’s answer the following questions:
“Why do teachers view their profession (or approach teaching) differently?”
“Why do they have different work attitudes?”
“Why are some passionate with their job and compassionate to their students while the others are not?”
Before we answer those questions, it is important to note that there are only two ways to classify the way teachers perform – effective or ineffective; two ways to label their work attitude – good or bad; and two ways to view the way they treat their students – fairly or poorly.
What could be the reason teachers treat their students the way they do? Some teachers are perceived by their students as mean, unfair and inconsiderate. Is it because these teachers were not taught by their parents the values of kindness and fairness during their formative years? Did their experiences in life make them rude? Or were they treated in the same way by their former teachers and they are thinking that being mean, unfair, and inconsiderate to students is nothing but normal.
Teachers need to be reminded of the importance of establishing a good rapport with the students. In several studies conducted, what emerged as among the top qualities of effective teachers as perceived by students include “the ability to develop relationships with their students” and “patient, caring, and kind personality.”
As Andrew Johnson puts it, “Teaching starts with a relationship. Until then, you are just a dancing monkey standing up in front of your students performing tricks.”
The hardest stone that school authorities could pick up and hit their heads with is if they would decide to hire a “nonteacher” to be a teacher. There are teachers in (some, a few, or is it many?) schools who are not really teachers by profession. They either have non-Education degrees or they did not receive any kind of teacher-training but were lucky to be hired for whatever reasons only those who hired them know.
How could a “nonteacher” be effective and passionate in a job completely alien to him/her?
Being a math wizard doesn’t give one the right to become a Math teacher. Having a perfect accent and impeccable grammar in English doesn’t make one qualified to teach English. These are things I emphasized in one of my essays about teaching. It doesn’t mean that if you know it, you can teach it.
How do we expect somebody who has no training in pedagogy to be effective in preparing a lesson plan – to set objectives, to choose the strategies and methods appropriate for a lesson and the levels of students, to motivate students before delivering the lesson, and to create tests intended to measure and evaluate learning.
Do you really think that teaching is just another job?
How do we expect a “nonteacher” to understand what kind of work attitude teachers should have and to agree with Ben Orlin said who sees teaching as an act of self-sacrifice, as a hard path undertaken for the greater good?
So, when colleagues in the academe are not performing and behaving the way a teacher should, check their academic background. They could be “nonteachers.” (And excuse me using the word “nonteacher.” It’s not in any dictionaries I checked online, except for one – http://www.yourdictionary.com.) I just can’t think of a word that could best label professionals in the academe that were allowed to teach even if their degrees are not related to education or they did not have any training as a teacher at all.
But a more serious concern in the academe is this – Why are there teachers who were trained to be teachers who act as if they themselves are “nonteachers”?
The way teachers perform are dictated by the personal educational philosophy they developed when they got exposed to the many isms they studied while pursuing their education degree. Such philosophy would evolve through time as they accumulate actual teaching experiences. Teachers also have personal belief systems that inform whatever decision they make. Or their decisions are influenced by the colleague they surround themselves with.
The way teachers behave and talk reflect the kind of personal educational philosophy they have (or the absence of it). The way they conduct themselves as professionals depends on whether they adhere (or not) to the code of teacher professionalism.
When teachers act and speak strangely, it is possible that they don’t know that there exists a code of professionalism created so teachers would be guided accordingly. Or they chose to ignore it.
But even if let’s say teachers are not aware of the existence of such code of professionalism, common sense would tell them that they ought to be careful with whatever they say or do or else they will be charged with conduct unbecoming to a teacher.
That is if they care and it’s not only the paycheck they are after.