The Roles of the Teacher

December 23, 2007 at 3:33 am 1 comment

listen aniTeachers are very poor sources of information. After 40 years of teaching I have discovered that I am actually a pretty stupid person. I am learning new things all the time. In the past few years, my degree of stupidity has actually grown exponentially. The technology advances that students are exposed to today give them access to more information in a shorter span of time than what I had an opportunity to access in my eight years of college efforts. (Eight years because I went on for post-graduate work, not because I am that stupid!). It used to be that I could proffer up my chest and speak like the voice of authority. After all what did those little ignoramus know? Occasionally that brilliant child would raise his or her hand and present a challenge. I would use that “teacher look” to quell the intellectual revolution on the spot followed by an arrogant question like “What’s your source?” Today the look works but they have a “.com” for a source. Today I have resigned to the fact that I am not the number one resource.

Teachers are guides and explorers. The pupils and students that they are charged with tag along for an adventure in learning. Teachers are challenged today with a generation that desires to learn in unconventional ways. Today’s teacher must be prepared to meet the challenges of a true wilderness of learning. It is filled with predators and prey, bugs and mice, rapids and pools. Each turn in the river of learning is an adventure. In order for the teacher to survive he or she needs more than just intelligence. They need perseverance, stamina, fortitude, ability to withstand abuse and resourcefulness. Teachers are charged with the responsible of guiding a child from one cycle in life to the next. Teachers need to survive to pass their proteges onto the next path in the journey of learning.

Teachers are mandated to educate the youth of today’s society. Today’s children have a pretty distorted image of society. They see society through the eyes of TV. This view is often fast moving, twisted and cynical. From the obnoxious TV judge in the afternoon to the flippant nighttime talk show, TV is filled with hedonistic and misanthropic perspectives. The nightly news is a two-and-half-hour extravaganza of violence, sexuality, and amorality. This is followed by degrading reality shows, cutesy sex comedies, and blood-gore-cop dramas. Too often the parents are too busy or too tired to overview the TV shows. In many cases the parents are “into” the dramas as much or more than their children. They fail to point that these shows portray only one side of life. There are good people in this world! You don’t need to degrade yourself to make something of yourself. Teachers, lawyers, and politicians are not all incompetent crooks or perverts. Parents are themselves sold on the hype of horror that our society is so decadent that it will collapse and maybe that’s not so bad. Apathy is an increasing impairment that is being passed on to our children. As a result, the responsibility of preparing children for the stewardship of society has fallen more and more on the shoulders of the school. Education is intended to pass on the great ideas and knowledge of yesterday to today’s children to make a better tomorrow. This is the challenge that each teacher must take up in a changing world.

Teachers have split personalities. They have their classroom persona and their real personality. There is always a split but the less the split the more sane the teacher remains and the better he or she can do their job. As a result, teachers are always thinking teaching. It never seems to stop. As time passes, successful teachers learn to turn it off at times for the benefit of the world around them. Teachers must know themself and have the confidence in themself to realize that the pupils are clients to be guided. They are not friends or your children. They are different from you and from each other. They cannot be boxed into categories. You cannot control the pupils but you can control classroom “turf.” Once you have created your “turf” then you can allow more of yourself to penetrate into your class persona and you can teach. In order to be successful in teaching, you must control your “turf.” Control means integrating the roles that successful teachers must perform in the midst of chaos. Teachers are actively absorbing, processing or conceiving ideas about these roles almost continuously.

Teachers are managers, communicators, learners, planners, assessors, and evaluators. Effective teachers have perfected all of these roles. This is why experience becomes an invaluable asset to teachers. First year teachers may be strong in one area or another but rarely are proficient in all areas; that, only comes with experience. Individuals who are “trained” to teach can usually perform well regardless of the subject matter. All of these areas require skills that can be learned. Most teachers can tell tales of utter failure from their first year of teaching. Why do most new comers to education leave after a few years? They fail to develop skills that enhance these roles and the ability to balance all the roles.

The postings to follow will examine each role as the writer sees them based on his forty years of experience. Experience is the best teacher. Live and learn. Welcome to the school of hard knocks. I offer these as ideas and thoughts. Not everything I express will work for everyone. Each teacher must find his or her own persona.

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Entry filed under: Teachers.

So You Want To Be a Teacher The Teacher Role: The Manager

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. TV Movies Soaps » The Roles of the Teacher  |  December 23, 2007 at 6:05 am

    […] fm44 placed an interesting blog post on The Roles of the TeacherHere’s a brief overviewToo often the parents are too busy or too tired to overview the TV shows. In many cases the parents are “into” the dramas as much or more than their children. They fail to point that these shows portray only one side of life. … […]

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