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The Jokers in the Academe

Lazy-Teacher

I have been a teacher since 1988. It has been a long journey full of ups and downs and filled with joys and sorrows. I don’t regret anything that I have undergone as a teacher and proudly I could l say that I triumphed over all the difficulties and pains because I wouldn’t last this long in the academe if not.

I worked in eight different schools in the Philippines, in six as a full-timer and in two as a part-timer. Here in South Korea, where I am teaching now is my second university. I stayed a year in the first one and now I’m on my way to completing my fifth year where I transferred.

Go back to the previous paragraph and count the number of academic institutions where I worked.

How many?

Two short of a dozen.

In those schools, I met different kinds of students, administrators, and –  teachers, the best and the worst.

This essay deals with teachers I refer to as “jokers in the academe.” The experience I had with them taught me to have a great deal of patience. There were times though that I lost that patience and locked horns with them.  Actually, I wrote this essay right after a verbal tussle with a joker.

Yes, you need to be patient when you encounter the jokers among your colleagues. These jokers aren’t funny at all. They are annoying.

I am not saying that I am a perfect teacher. I still have lots to improve. At least I have been trying  my best to conform with the existing and evolving professional standards set for teachers.

Most importantly, I am not a joker. I would never be.

Who might these jokers be?

One of those that I classify as jokers are the “super dependents.”

The “super dependents” are teachers who will not solve their own problems. They expect their colleagues to do that for them. They are the ones who hate exerting extra effort to find a solution to whatever bugs them. Their sense of entitlement is so strong that   they think  that it is the duty of  people around them to help them get out of a difficult situation.

What these jokers consider as problems are not problems to begin with.

For example – the school requiring teachers to apply a new technology in the classroom. That for them is a contentious issue. They would try to dip their hands deep into their bag of reasons to justify their non-compliance.

You would hear the lamest of excuses like “My training as an educator did not include applying those technology.”

Really!?

Another excuse, lame also, “It’s labor-intensive.”

They want things to be given to  them on a silver platter. They would never walk the extra mile.

They are like square pegs in round holes. No amount of explanation would make them buy the idea that being a 21st century teacher teaching 21st century learners would require the learning of 21st century skills.

These jokers don’t understand that part of their responsibility as educators – if they really consider themselves as educators – is to retool and retrain if necessary in order to cope with the demands of what has become a technology-driven pedagogy used by 21st century teachers.

They should not subscribe to the idea that “old dogs can’t learn new tricks” because they are not dogs. They’re human beings who are supposed to be rational.

Are they?

Anyway, let’s talk about dogs.

They bark, right?

Some of the jokers in the academe are like dogs. They bark a lot.

I call them the “barkers.”

These jokers bark about their disagreement with school policies and what they perceive as incompetence among the “people upstairs.” They are the eternal fault-finders who see nothing but negative in the organization. They live to seek the “tiny black in an ocean of white.” For them nothing is right, everything is wrong.

They complain day and night, except when they go to the ATM machine during payday.

Do they deserve their pay? Are they doing their job? Only them and their students could tell.

Yes, there are times that they have valid reasons to disagree. But what is frustrating is that they bark up the wrong tree. They don’t address their concerns to the right people at the right place and at the right time. They grandstand during meetings wasting their colleagues’ precious time. They force them to listen to their misguided eloquence. Sometimes they also write long unsolicited e-mails where they express their grievances. They don’t understand that not everybody in the organization share their opinion about the policies and the school administrators.

The funny thing is these jokers just bark but they don’t bite.

They do nothing about their complaints except bark about them. But when the administrators responsible in implementing the policies they disagree with are present in meetings, they are very quiet, silent in one corner of the room wagging their tails.

These jokers curse the school and their administrators at every opportunity they have. They tell  everybody that the school where they work is the worst  place to be. Yet at the end of the school year they (let me use these words again) wag their tails as they sign their names on the dotted lines for a contract extension.

Dogs bark. They also eat their own vomits.

The last category of jokers in my list are those who applied (and luckily got hired) as teachers even if they are not qualified and trained for the profession.

They are the ones I call the “pretenders.”

Yeah, they pretend to be teachers.

These jokers applied as teachers because there are no other jobs available. They are very fortunate (and the students unfortunate) that there are schools willing to hire them even if they are not qualified to be teachers.

Among these jokers are English teachers who thought that they could be English teachers because they can speak the language. I have emphasized in one of my essays that it doesn’t mean that when  you know something you can already teach it. “If you know it, you can teach it” is a fallacy.

Knowing a subject matter is different from knowing how to teach it. The former is only one of the many requirements for the latter.

“Real teachers,” those not pretending to be teachers,  know what it takes to be a teacher. Teaching is not parroting the contents of the book. It’s not delivering a monologue in front of the students.

Teachers need to choose the best strategy to use in the class from a variety of strategies available. They have to set objectives and test if those objectives are met. They need to differentiate the levels of their students and identify the corresponding techniques and activities suitable for those levels.

“Real teachers” know what philosophy would inform whatever they do and say in the class. They know which sociological, psychological, historical and legal foundations upon which they would base all their decisions as teachers.

It means that the job of a teacher is so complicated that not just anybody should be allowed to teach. And when a school commits the mistake of hiring applicants who are not trained to be teachers, expect them to become the jokers in the academe.

In the academe, most  of those who complain a lot –  those who create a lot of troubles – are the ones who are not really trained to become teachers. These jokers are the ones who seemed to be lost in the wilderness not knowing what to do and how to do things related to the job of a teacher. They are the ones who would blame others when they encounter difficulties and can’t figure out how to deal with them.

The common trait among these jokers is that they want everything given to them in a silver platter. You need to explain to them in detail (and repetitively) how to perform tasks that teachers are supposedly trained to do. Sometimes they would even require their colleagues to do things for them. They would not bother learning how to do it themselves.

Beware of the jokers in the academe. They’re not funny.

These jokers could be many or but a few in schools everywhere.

There was a voice within that kept telling me not to mind the jokers in the academe. I did so, but not for long. It became too difficult for me to hold my horses when I heard the “non-performing” barkers whined and whinged so persistently. It’s so difficult to  just turn a blind eye (and a deaf ear) to the things they are doing (and saying) all the time. I had to say my piece – through this essay.

What’s dangerous is that they are contagious. They contaminate the  working environment. They have the ability to flip the organizational climate, from positive to negative.

So, beware of the jokers. Avoid them like a plague.

These whining and crying babies are not cute. Don’t babysit them.

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What Teachers and Students Expect From One Another

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Teachers do talk about their students. They share among themselves their best and worst experiences in the classroom and compare their students’ performance and behavior. This they do either in meetings or just informally during lunch and coffee breaks.

Students do the same – they also talk about their teachers. When they are not within hearing distance of the educators, they discuss about them. Students tell each other (and their parents) how good or bad their teachers are – how much they like or abhor them.

It’s not only the teachers who could express satisfaction over good performance of students or show discontent for the students’  lack of effort in their studies. The students could do the same. They would show approval for the good effort put up by their teachers and convey disdain when they feel they are being shortchanged.

Both teachers and the students expect each other to perform well when they come to class. They both demand excellence. The teachers assume that their students have studied their lessons and have done their assignments. On the other hand, the students believe that the ones  leading the learning process, their teachers,  are prepared whenever they stand in front of them – that they have a lesson plan and they know how to execute it.

The most foolish assumption that teachers could make is to think that their students wouldn’t notice if they come to class unprepared. Students know if a teacher is not doing his or her job properly. It’s not only the teachers who could distinguish excellence from mediocrity.

Teachers require students to participate in discussions and other class activities. For that, they need to do their part. The teachers should never forget that there is a prerequisite to requiring the students to participate – motivation. Students expect their teachers to make them interested in the subject and to ask questions that make them think. They expect  them to explain clearly and give sufficient examples for them to be ready to participate.

Such are among the pedagogical skills that teachers are expected to manifest if they hope to succeed in making students participate actively in their classes.

Students expect their teachers to be competent. The worst mistake educational managers could do is to not strictly screen applicants or blindly disregard hiring procedures and standards for whatever reasons and end up entrusting to somebody mediocre – to somebody not trained to be a teacher –  the education of students. Knowledge coupled with the required pedagogical skills are what constitute competence among teachers.

Interestingly, competence and their correlates are not the ones that came out on top of the list of what students perceive as qualities of effective teachers. In studies conducted to determine what students consider as the best characteristics of quality teachers, those that relate to personality, not pedagogical skills, were the ones that consistently top the list.

In one of the said studies, among what emerged as the top five qualities of effective teacher as perceived by students, “the ability to develop relationships with their students” received the highest score.1 Of the four remaining, only “engaging students in learning” (ranked 5th) is related to pedagogy. “The ability to develop relationships with their students,” “patient, caring, and kind personality,” and  “knowledge of learners” were ranked, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, respectively.

Students and teachers differ in their perception of the characteristics of effective teachers. In a study that explored student and teacher beliefs on good teaching,2 teachers rated constructs related to their abilities as teacher much higher than those related to their personality.  For the students, it’s the opposite. They gave preference to constructs related to the personality of teachers. Students who participated in the study rated “caring,” “content knowledge,” “safe environment,” “dependable,” “prepared” and a “teacher-student relationship” as most important when describing what makes a good teacher.

Again, emerging on top of the list, as viewed on the perspective of students, is a quality related to the personality of the teacher – “caring.” Note that “content knowledge” and “prepared” are related to pedagogy, the rest to the attitude and behavior of the teachers.

A very interesting topic for research is  who can best answer the question “What  are the qualities of an effective teacher, the students or the teachers?”.

Who is the better judge of what constitutes quality teaching –  the students or the teachers themselves?

Teachers also expect respect from the students. That is something not difficult to elicit from young people like the students who are (supposedly) taught by their parents to respect people in authority. But even if parents were remiss of their duties to inculcate among their children that value, the teachers are always in a position to be accorded respect. The teachers, however, have to understand that respect is a two-way street. Students also expect to be respected. Their being the persons in authority don’t give them the right to embarrass the students either directly or indirectly.

In a study on students’ perceptions of effective teaching in higher education,3 “respectful” and other correlated descriptors were mentioned by students in a number of times significantly more than any of the other characteristics, including “knowledgeable” (which got the second highest mark). Student-respondents said that they appreciate teachers who are compassionate and understanding of the unique and challenging situations that students sometimes experience.

One of the proven ways of ensuring successful learning is for the teacher to ensure that a good rapport between them and their students exist. And the best way to do it is by not only telling the students what they expect from them but by knowing also what the students expect from the teachers.

References: 

  1. https://www.pearsoned.com/top-five-qualities-effective-teachers
  2. http://www.smcm.edu/mat/wp-content/uploads/sites/73/2015/06/Bullock-2015.pdf
  3. http://www.mun.ca/educ/faculty/mwatch/laura_treslan_SPETHE_Paper.pdf

The Jokers In The Academe

Lazy-Teacher

I have been a teacher since 1988. It has been a long journey full of ups and downs and filled with joys and sorrows. I don’t regret anything that I have undergone as a teacher and proudly I could l say that I triumphed over all the difficulties and pains because I wouldn’t last this long in the academe if not.

I worked in eight different schools in the Philippines, in six as a full-timer and in two as a part-timer. Here in South Korea, where I am teaching now is my second university. I stayed a year in the first one and now I’m on my way to completing my fifth year where I transferred.

Go back to the previous paragraph and count the number of academic institutions where I worked.

How many?

Two short of a dozen.

In those schools, I met different kinds of students, administrators, and –  teachers, the best and the worst.

This essay deals with teachers I refer to as “jokers in the academe.” The experience I had with them taught me to have a great deal of patience. There were times though that I lost that patience and locked horns with them.  Actually, I wrote this essay right after a verbal tussle with one of them.

Yes, you need to be patient when you encounter the jokers among your colleagues. These jokers aren’t funny at all. They are annoying.

I am not saying that I am a perfect teacher. I still have lots to improve. At least I have been trying  my best to conform with the existing and evolving professional standards set for teachers.

Most importantly, I am not a joker. I would never be.

Who might these jokers be?

One of those that I classify as jokers are the “super dependents.”

The “super dependents” are teachers who will not solve their own problems. They expect their colleagues to do that for them. They are the ones who hate exerting extra effort to find a solution to whatever bugs them. Their sense of entitlement is so strong that   they think  that it is the duty of  people around them to help them get out of a difficult situation.

What these jokers consider as problems are not problems to begin with.

For example – the school requiring teachers to apply a new technology in the classroom. That for them is a contentious issue. They would try to dip their hands deep into their bag of reasons to justify their non-compliance.

You would hear the lamest of excuses like “My training as an educator did not include applying those technology.”

Really!?

Another excuse, lame also, “It’s labor-intensive.”

They want things to be given to  them on a silver platter. They would never go the extra mile.

They are like square pegs in round holes. No amount of explanation would make them buy the idea that being a 21st century teacher teaching 21st century learners would require the learning of 21st century skills.

These jokers don’t understand that part of their responsibility as educators – if they really consider themselves as educators – is to retool and retrain if necessary in order to cope with the demands of what has become a technology-driven pedagogy used by 21st century teachers.

They should not subscribe to the idea that “old dogs can’t learn new tricks” because they are not dogs. They’re human beings who are supposed to be rational.

Are they?

Anyway, let’s talk about dogs.

They bark, right?

Some of the jokers in the academe are like dogs. They bark a lot.

I call them the “barkers.”

These jokers bark about their disagreement with school policies and what they perceive as incompetence among the “people upstairs.” They are the eternal fault-finders who see nothing but negative in the organization. They live to seek the “tiny black in an ocean of white.” For them nothing is right, everything is wrong.

They complain day and night, except when they go to the ATM machine during payday.

Do they deserve their pay? Are they doing their job? Only them and their students could tell.

Yes, there are times that they have valid reasons to disagree. But what is frustrating is that they bark up the wrong tree. They don’t address their concerns to the right people at the right place and at the right time. They grandstand during meetings wasting their colleagues’ precious time. They force them to listen to their misguided eloquence. Sometimes they also write long unsolicited e-mails where they express their grievances. They don’t understand that not everybody in the organization share their opinion about the policies and their school administrators.

The funny thing is these jokers just bark but they don’t bite.

They do nothing about their complaints except bark about them. But when the administrators responsible in implementing the policies they disagree with are present in meetings, they are very quiet, silent in one corner of the room wagging their tails.

These jokers curse the school and their administrators at every opportunity they have. They tell  everybody that the school where they work is the worst  place to be. Yet at the end of the school year they (let me use these words again) wag their tails as they sign their names on the dotted lines for a contract extension.

Dogs bark. They also eat their own vomits.

The last category of jokers in my list are those who applied (and luckily got hired) as teachers even if they are not qualified and trained for the profession.

They are the ones I call the “pretenders.”

Yeah, they pretend to be teachers.

These jokers applied as teachers because there are no other jobs available. They are very fortunate (and the students unfortunate) that there are schools willing to hire them even if they are not qualified to be teachers.

Among these jokers are English teachers who thought that they could be English teachers because they can speak the language. I have emphasized in one of my essays that it doesn’t mean that when  you know something you can already teach it. “If you know it, you can teach it” is a fallacy.

Knowing a subject matter is different from knowing how to teach it. The former is only one of the many requirements for the latter.

“Real teachers,” those not pretending to be,  know what it takes to be a teacher. Teaching is not parroting the contents of the book. It’s not delivering a monologue in front of the students.

Teachers need to choose the best strategy to use in the class from a variety of strategies available. They have to set objectives and test if those objectives are met. They need to differentiate the levels of their students and identify the corresponding techniques and activities suitable for those levels.

“Real teachers” know what philosophy would inform whatever they do and say in the class. They know which sociological, psychological, historical and legal foundations upon which they would base all their decisions as teachers.

It means that the job of a teacher is so complicated that not just anybody should be allowed to teach. And when a school commits the mistake of hiring applicants who are not trained to be teachers, expect them to become the jokers in the academe.

In the academe, most  of those who complain a lot –  those who create a lot of troubles – are the ones who are not really trained to become teachers. These jokers are the ones who seemed to be lost in the wilderness not knowing what to do and how to do things related to the job of a teacher. They are the ones who would blame others when they encounter difficulties and can’t figure out how to deal with them.

The common trait among these jokers is that they want everything given to them in a silver platter. You need to explain to them in detail (and repetitively) how to perform tasks that teachers are supposedly trained to do. Sometimes they would even require their colleagues to do things for them. They would not bother learning how to do it themselves.

Beware of the jokers in the academe. They’re not funny.

These jokers could be many or but a few in schools everywhere.

There was a voice within that kept telling me not to mind the jokers in the academe. I did so, but not for long. It became too difficult for me to hold my horses when I heard the “non-performing” barkers whined and whinged so persistently. It’s so difficult to  just turn a blind eye (and a deaf ear) to the things they are doing (and saying) all the time. I had to say my piece – through this essay.

What’s dangerous is that they are contagious. They contaminate the  working environment. They have the ability to flip the organizational climate, from positive to negative.

So, beware of the jokers. Avoid them like a plague.

These whining and crying babies are not cute. Don’t babysit them.

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