Monday, July 11, 2011

Teaching Inspite of Unhelpful People

    I’m always amazed when the student who has taken the majority of your attention feels compelled to help you do your job.  After spending time telling a child to listen up, use their materials appropriately, or avoid negative comments toward their neighbor the class begins to function smoothly.  It is at this point that the student you’ve finally got moving in the right direction blurts out some useless comment like, “Tommy is not using the right kind of paper. “  Typically their input only begins quarrels, distractions, and more work. 
     As teachers we can all use help to keep up with the paperwork, planning, supply gathering, etc.  However, few of us get any useful help.   The helicopter parent that wants to attend every function to stand around and watch their child, the assistant the disappears mysteriously from the time students arrive until the last few weeks of school, administrators who side-step discipline problems to avoid stepping on toes, all of these are examples of the help that we often get in our every day teaching. 
    The amazing part is that in classrooms all over the world teachers are taking those distracted students and putting them to work with room assignments and tutoring of other students.  We’re finding ways to get parents involved without allowing them to get in our way.   We find the best ways to work with our fellow employees to get the job done.   I’m sure none of this was taught in our education classes, but we learn through experience how to turn the unhelpful people each day into useful additions to our classrooms.
     So when someone tries to demean you as a teacher saying that your job is so easy.  Remind them that you are managers of fifty or more people all with personal agendas and different abilities you manage in 180 days to accomplish mastery of hundreds of specific expectations.  That takes talent. 

(Let us know your suggestions for getting students, parents, and staff members involved.)  

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