We all know that teaching is a hard job. It's demanding, and there is an ever increasing lack of support coming from the powers that be. We work hard, and our students are our lives for more than the hours between 9 and 3 each day (Or whatever the hours are that you are required to work.)
However, the longer I teach the more disheartened I become with some of my colleagues and the attitudes I see in the education field around me. Hence the reason for this post - How to avoid becoming "THAT" teacher. You know, the teacher who complains about everything, who is unwilling to learn, and just basically makes life a misery for everyone around them. Unfortunately they are everywhere, and there is no avoiding them, but you can avoid becoming like them.
ONE - Avoid becoming complacent.The dictionary describes complacency as the following - "Pleased, especially with oneself or one's merits, advantages, situation etc., often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; self-satisfied". Now don't get me wrong - if you've done something awesome, celebrate it! I certainly do. There is no point achieving something if you are going to hide it under a bushel.
Being humble is where most people go wrong in this area. If you want to continue being an awesome person, teacher or not, you have to stay humble! Celebrate your successes and achievements, but recognise that you can't do anything on your own.
If you are teacher of the year - you have a team behind you helping you get there!
If your students have made accelerated progress through a reading programme you developed - recognise that there are always other factors at play.
Humility is the key to avoiding complacency.
TWO - Avoid becoming lazy.There are many people in this world who quickly in life fall into the trap of settling. Settling for the easy job, the easy path, sometimes even the easy relationships. Laziness isn't just laying around, getting fat. Sometimes laziness follows complacency in the form of sticking with the status quo.
When I talk about laziness in the teaching profession, I'm talking about those people who avoid eye contact when the leader is looking for a volunteer. I'm talking about that person who arrives and leaves within 5 minutes of the required hours (I'm not however talking about the person who has to do this for family reasons, but does countless hours at home). I'm talking about the person who is dull and boring in their lesson planning because it's easier to recycle year after year instead of actually reading what they have written and editing as needed for their current class.
To avoid being lazy isn't to say that you can't work smart. Creating generic lessons, activities, and plans that you can use in any learning area is a smart idea. Using ONLY these generic lessons, activities, and plans in EVERY learning area is lazy.
Being available is the key to avoiding laziness.
THREE - Avoid becoming negative.This is a hard one. When the culture in your work environment is negative, it spreads like a weed. Negativity is noxious, and it can kill the life out of a teacher in a heartbeat. Negative people hang around in corners of the staff room, gossiping and complaining. They are the ones that smile to the face of one person, and then turn around and complain to the next. They are the "Mean Girls" of the working world. My advice - avoid these people like your life depends on it. They will suck you dry and leave you wondering what just happened. Avoid them if you can, but if you can't, be honest with them about how you don't appreciate their words.
Being honest is the key to avoiding negativity.
FOUR - Avoid becoming apathetic.It may seem that many of these things are the same. And in a sense they are! They all stem from a lack of ability to push through the myriad of things dumped on our desks each and every day. The apathetic teacher is that person who just doesn't care. They do their job, and by that I mean they turn up, plan their lessons, and assess their students. But really they don't care. They lack a sense of drive and motivation for their job, and sometimes even for the other things going on around them.
Being enthusiastic is the key to avoiding apathy.
FIVE - Avoid becoming rigid.Possibly the most important part of being a teacher is the ability to be flexible. Guaranteed at least once a week there will be something that interrupts your programme. There will be a fire drill. One of your students will throw up all over the carpet - right as you are getting to the most exciting part of your lesson. Sometimes, the interruption could even be something exciting like a surprise guest speaker! Inflexibility can kill even the most awesome teachers if they are unwilling to go with the flow. Rigidity can also come in the form of being unwilling to move with the times! There are many teachers whose own ability at using a computer, or other form of technology, restricts their students learning simply due to their unwillingness to "Give it a go".
Being willing to try is the key to avoiding rigidity.
We all know someone who is "THAT" teacher. Some of us even knew them when they were excited, motivated, flexible people. My fear is that if there are more examples of "THAT" teacher than not, then the new teachers coming through will have them as their guide. We must do everything we can not to let it get that way!!
So go, be humble, honest, available, enthusiastic, and willing to give things a try. You will be the voice in the dark that people will flock to. You will encourage our young colleagues to give things a go and together our students will get the best deal.