We live in a day and time when each state in our country is trying to outdo the others in an effort to grab those few federal dollars floating around to reward creative state education systems. Professional development is a now a norm in each school system as we stretch our staff and resources to raise test scores. While I am in favor of training administrators and teaching staff in the areas of best practices, this latest fad has cause me to wonder, what are the things that teachers can’t learn at college? While this is no exhaustive list, its a start!
1. Compassion. Max (not his real name) seemed frustrated and cussed out the boy sitting next to him who was playfully picking on him. It was definitely an overreaction. After taking him into the hall, I find out that he just found out last night that mom and dad are getting a divorce.
Nancy (not her real name) was sleeping in class when she should have been taking notes over my very interesting lecture. I ask her to stay after class so I can talk to her. After the rest of the students leave, she lets me know that she’s nervous about seeing her grandmother who was serving life at the state prison that evening. She was so nervous, she was making herself sick.
A teacher with compassion realizes that he must use wisdom on when to stand strong and when to be flexible. This can’t be taught in a university’s classroom.
2. Classroom Discipline. Some teachers struggle with this. At the universities, they teach the three f’s: be firm, be fair, and be flexible. Some teachers can’t seem to find their backbone while others have an unbending, steel spine. Is the goal to enforce rules or behavior? Teachers must come to an understanding at some point that rules are not sacred, but behaviors are. Rules are a means to an end. When properly designed, they allow for the disciplinarian to use discretion so that fairness is attainable.
3. Love of Students. I have always told kids who were wondering about their career plan to not choose a career path on the basis of money alone. They should work in an area they are passionate about. The example I always give are teachers. Everyone can think of a teacher that walks around the school enjoying every minute. They smile, they get creative, they volunteer, they work hard and expect the same from their students. Then there are the other teachers who seem as though they hate their job. They’re bitter, rude, often unfair in discipline, and never go above the call of duty. Life is too short to work in a job you don’t love. Teachers can’t be taught to love students. They merely discover it.
So what do you think? What are some other things that teachers can’t learn at college?