5 Big Teacher Misbehaviors that will Haunt you

When I sat down with high school students to find out what teachers do to demonstrate a lack of Expertise, I was impressed by the astute observations that were provided.

I have had enough of you, Timony

Drumroll…

5. Disorganized: Gone are the days of the disheveled genius; the offbeat, yet brilliant mind wearing yesterday’s suit and tomorrow’s socks. Einstein would not fare well in our current climate. That hair! Does he wear the same thing every day? Our students are not old enough to recognize this archetype. Get over yourself and get your act together. Wake up 20 minutes earlier, have your professional clothes professionally cleaned and pressed, shave, and give yourself the time you need to prepare.

4. Gullible: Students can pull the wool over your eyes and they know it. They fool you, they may even lie, and they get away with it. Maybe you know they are doing it–stop. Maybe you do not know–get some advice, get some assistance, get an informant–something. Better yet, know the material so that students cannot fake the funk. Set firm guidelines and deadlines. If you give students a break, make sure that it is fair and that it serves a purpose.

3. Maintains little control over the classroom: This is not a matter of chaos in the room as much as it is a matter of ownership of control. Students need to understand that they have a horse in this race. Their preparation, participation, and execution in your class is not an individual need. You need their input as a teacher as much as they need the input of one another. If your class is a place to dispense and receive information, they will check out and no one will benefit. The educational climate is about agency–check out Bandura and Bruner–ownership is shared. If you cannot control the scenario, do not take it out on the students with threats and pleading. The problem did not occur the moment that behavior is an issue, it happened a long time ago…sadly, it was probably your lack of preparation.

2. Immature: How far does it have to go? One focus-group member told of jokes regarding flatus. That’s right. Fart jokes. Some agreed that immaturity is difficult to define but that they would know it when they saw it. We have heard that before. Teachers like to blur lines. We’re progressive, right? This is the 21st century right? Adolescent need things to be a bit more black and white. They will laugh and joke with you. They will also categorize you and talk about your lack of boundaries. They will also take advantage of you and when it comes to blows, they will call you out as immature and you will be left without excuse. This one is personal, I know. You have to make the change.

1. Lacks knowledge: Teachers are no longer practitioners, let us be honest. Aside from music and art teachers, most teachers do not participate actively in their content outside of the classroom. Maybe it is time for you to change that. Have you had someone mention the word relevance in a critique of your domain? If you do not have immediate responses to the relevance to your domain other than the fact that it is a pre-requisite for other content, you are on your way to being outdated, redundant, and useless. My advice? consider an area of your content that you are going to master and do everything that masters in those domains do. Math teacher? Why not be a statitstician? Do some research consulting. Language arts? Write stories for submission or volunteer to edit for professional journals. Science? Join a research group. These are not the answers to everything, obviously.

What would you be willing to do in order for your students to have better outcomes? You would be surprised by how many people would not be willing to change these behaviors if they were addressed. We hate change, I get that. We are more likely to justify than to change; to rebel rather than acquiesce. Our careers, our students, and our colleagues are depending on us advancing the craft. Let us take the challenge.

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9 Comments

  • As a new teacher, these are all things that I could improve on, except perhaps immaturity.
    Thanks – great food for thought!

  • What no fart jokes!! I often say that the way to see if someone can handle middle school is to ask them to tell a spontaneous fart joke πŸ™‚

    As for getting my professional clothes cleaned and pressed….my jeans will never see the inside of a dry cleaners πŸ˜‰

  • Dr. Timony wrote:

    Joking on the kids’ level is touchy. I will not lie–I love a good fart joke and can make all the noises with the best of them. All of that comes in to clear and shocking perspective when you are in a meeting with a student and your supervisor and/or a parent and the student says something like, “All he does is make fart jokes.”
    The reasons for the meeting are set aside for a few moments while the other adults in the room ponder your professionalism. We all know that affinity seeking behaviors by teachers are common and many of them seem harmless–until they cause someone to draw your professionalism into question.

    Also keep in mind the heart of this blog post–the students have fun in your class, sure. They are also making judgments about you and your class in ways that effect the outcomes for you both. If dropping the fart jokes means that their perception of you is improved which improves the classroom outcomes for everyone, would you do it?

  • “We’re progressive, right? This is the 21st century right?”
    This line made me think of technology and the unwillingness of established or set-in-their-ways teachers to learn, utilize and promote new technologies. Another big one teachers should consider to engage and impress students. Great blog!

  • Don’t entertain excuses. Excuses don’t pay the rent. Let your class know that you will not listen to excuses. If you do, you will only encourage them to improve their ability to make them up. Rather, let them know that if they cannot do an assignment on time or show up to class, they can negotiate an alternative effort to cover the expectation. I once had a student who had her maternal grandfather die twice. Enough of that.

  • This must be one of the best articles I have read all week! You have hit the nail on the head and there are very few student that would disagree with you and I challenge every teacher to look at all of these points. Alex, South Africa

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Anna Foundation, Alexandra Pinnock. Alexandra Pinnock said: Hits the nail on the head! All teachers should read this: http://bit.ly/aRYWYd […]

  • Michael Josefowicz wrote:

    Thanks for the post. I think you’re pointing to the absence of Excellence and Expertise as memes in the great education convos on twitter and elsewhere.

    As I read in your dissertation. (thanks for the link) there are well defined behaviors of expertise and real – as opposed to empty – use of “professional.”

    My sense is “teaching” is in fact an immature profession. Much like doctors about 100 years ago. it’s also my sense that under the pressures of the drop out epidemic and the new religion of fiscal responsibility, it’s inevitable that the insights of Cog Science as well as your insights about Expertise will become mainstream.

    The eye opening -to me – your research seems to suggest is that HS students – in aggregate – are reliable indicators of a the Expertise of a teacher.

    I think if that bears out with further research it’s a very big deal.

  • When the starting salary for a teacher is around $30K, you are going to get what you pay for.

    Americans must choose war or education.

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