I used to think there were two different types of teachers. Quite simply, I thought there were good teachers and there were bad teachers and that was it. Good teachers were those that were excellent at what they did every single day in the classroom and in every aspect of being a teacher. They taught dynamic lessons, contributed to the school and continuously evolved their craft to be better. Bottom line, they were good. Bad teachers were those that were unable to connect with kids and had bad instructional techniques. They couldn't control their classes. Parents were always complaining about them. When I was in a meeting with these bad teachers I couldn't stand being around them. They seemed to be doing the same thing every year and in the same way. At the end of the day, these were the teachers that were talked about in the teacher’s lounge and people counted down the days until they retired.
For the longest time I thought that was it. Those were the two different types of teachers. You're either a good teacher who deserved to work with kids every day or you were a bad teacher and you deserved to be fired. However, I'm beginning to see a third type of teacher which might be the most prevalent and also the most important.
This third type of teacher looks suspiciously similar to a bad teacher. Yet, if you look closer and boil it down these teachers are doing the best they know how and that's it. They may not be good teachers, but then again they may not have ever been told how to be one. They don't know how to improve or how to teach any other way. They are just teaching the way they always have or the way in which they themselves were taught. At the end of the day they think they're doing right because they don't know any other way. These teachers often get frustrated when people think they're bad teachers. This is because they think they're good because they're doing the best they know how and they don't know any other way.
With this in mind I would like to think that there are three distinctly different types of teachers and they should each be treated differently. There are still good teachers out there that still fit in the definition above. We need to celebrate these teachers and model our work after and around them. I also think there are bad teachers out there but I revise my earlier definition. The way I see it now, a bad teacher is one that has been shown a better way to do something and refuses to change. They are making a choice not to change even if they have been provided the chance to do so and clear evidence that it helps kids. In my opinion, we need to help these people find a way to do something else for a living. Finally, I see those “other” teachers that just need a guiding hand or the inspiration to change. The good teachers have an obligation to not complain about these teachers but instead to mentor and help them be better at what they do.
What kind of teacher are you? More importantly, what kind of teachers are you working with and what are you doing about it? Are you pushing your peers to be better and helping them on their journey? Who do you turn to in an effort to improve yourself?