Sunday, January 27, 2008

Effective Teachers/Effective People

What constitutes an effective teacher…. how about an effective human being? If you asked a million teachers this question, you would get a million varied responses. One thing I know for sure is that I would get different answers from effective teachers than from the ineffective ones. We all know who they are. Ineffective teachers are easy to spot to everyone, but themselves. I believe most ineffective educators don’t realize that they are this way. They have lost the ability to self reflect and lack the flexibility to transform even if they were to realize that what they are doing isn’t successful. These are educators who NEVER are afforded the opportunity to hear students say they are excited about coming to class, or to have parents (in public) say, “Yes, she is an awesome teacher”.

Quite the opposite is true for ineffective teachers. These are the ones who quite proudly proclaim it isn’t important what parents or students think. They make it known that because they posses some higher discipline or standard that they are exempt from the obligation to connect with students, let alone the educational community. How do I know all of this? I wish I could say it is because I have come into contact with one too many ineffective teachers (which unfortunately IS part of the story), but actually it is because there have been times in my career when I have felt unsuccessful. This ineffectiveness gnaws at my gut until I take the time to pause, reflect and change. Sounds simple, but it is far from painless.

Self-reflection is complicated. It requires us to be honest with ourselves. What’s more, it requires that we take responsibility for our actions and create a plan for change. If we aren’t up for change then reflection is pointless. Perhaps this is where ineffective teachers get hung up. As difficult as reflection can be, admitting that you need to change is even more so.

Maybe this is a human condition more than a “teacher” one. For instance, if we find ourselves in failed relationships of any type, it is rarely our fault, but more often we feel the failure is due to the actions of others. We even tend to blame spiritual emptiness on the lack of being “fed” by the church or blame God for abandoning us. It simply never enters our mind that it is our responsibility to seek the nurturing our own spiritual connection. As long as we blame and deny—we never are required to confront and transform. Honest reflection might be complicated, painful or even exhausting, but it is the answer to obtaining many of the life successes that we so adamantly pursue.

This I know for sure…


Annie said...

Quite the insight. And well said too.

The girl left behind said...

I can relate to this. When I left the profession, I was burnt to a crisp. I often think about going back (never seriously--I can't be that broke again), but I do know I'd be a very different teacher now than I was then. It would be more personal, for lack of a better word. More about the kids, less about the subject. I thought I was a good teacher then, and I still think so. But I'd be a better one now.

Ali said...

I have heard many ineffective teachers tell me how good they are. Very few effective teachers feel the need to do this.

I agree that this condition is not only suffered by teachers, but by everyone.


suzanne said...

I had to sit back as I howled in laughter while reading about an ineffective teacher. Gee, YOU HIT IT RIGHT ON THE NAIL. It is a difficult process to reevaluate yourself when things do not go the way you feel they should.
Thanks for the laughter, I hear it is the best medicine out there. Then again in DPS61, Prozac is the most perscribed drug. Now that is something to ponder!

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