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.
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.