Here’s a tale of two teachers, Steve and Bob. They both teach the same class, one after the other. After almost every lesson, Steve returns to the teachers room, sits down at his desk, lets out an audible sigh and then proceeds to moan about the students. They don’t engage, he complains, they don’t get what he’s trying to do. The atmosphere around him is negative and other teachers look at each other with a look that says “here he goes again...”. Steve then opens up his big folder of lesson plans, photocopies the materials he needs for tomorrow’s lesson and goes home early.
Bob teaches the same students. After his lesson, he comes back to the staff room full of energy, enthusiasm but with occasional and irrational pangs of self doubt. Sometimes the lesson is great, sometimes it could have been better but he rarely criticises the students, and when he does he feels bad about it later. He reflects on the lesson he has just given and thinks about how it could have been better. He then looks at his lesson plan for tomorrow, and prepares his materials, changing and adapting them from last time, trying to make them better. He leaves at the end of the working day.
Steve is a naturally gifted teacher but he has given up. He isn’t interested in becoming better and is completely incapable of self-reflection. If anything goes wrong, it’s always the students fault and he has started to resent them. The students have picked up on this and they now no longer enjoy their lessons with him. Some of them have even complained about his lessons to the administration of the school.
Bob is far more experienced than Steve, and yet when you talk to him he, he knows he still has has a lot to learn and can improve. He is grateful to the students for their patience with him, and he genuinely enjoys their company. The students pick up on this and they look forward to lessons with him. He feels that after lesson he has learned something and through interacting with these people, he is becoming not just a better teacher but a better person.
I’m going to guess that nearly everybody reading this will identify with Bob. After all, the Steves of this world don’t read blogs in their spare time like you do. So I’m not trying to convert Steves with this blog post, instead I want to remind you that you are a Bob and you should be proud of yourself. Just make sure you don’t ever let go of your inner Bobness and become a Steve.
Apologies if your name is Steve, I’m sure you’re a great Bob!
Photos taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/martinb/, used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial licence,http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en_GB.