Teachers Can Be the Worst Students

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I am currently taking two online professional development courses through a local school system. Both are book studies, and if you look in the sidebar, you can guess which two books. The interesting thing to me is that one group is active, dynamic, and interested in conversation about the book we are reading. Participants are posting resources. Participants are actually reading each other’s posts and providing feedback that instigates discussion. Interestingly enough, a large number of the participants are not currently teaching, but they are taking the course to keep their certificates current.

The other group does the bare minimum required. Many of the response posts are bland recapitulations of the poster’s points with a somewhat encouraging “I agree” stamped on. We’re reading a really interesting book, and the discussions are just mind-numbing. I think the majority of this group is in the classroom, too.

I really hope these teachers are not accepting the kind of work they are producing from their own students.  On the other hand, part of me wants to say that if you aren’t willing to be a good student, it doesn’t make much sense to be a teacher.  I think the best teachers genuinely like to learn.  I know, I know.  A lot of professional development is stupid.  But these two online courses really aren’t!  That’s just my opinion, I guess, and clearly the majority of the other participants don’t agree.

I find the dichotomy really interesting.

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3 thoughts on “Teachers Can Be the Worst Students

  1. I can't speak to everyone in your class, obviously, but as I read I expected the dichotomy to be the one you described.

    I don't think this is a reflection of a lack of love for learning, however, so much as it is an indicator of (1) teachers' dedication, and (2) teachers' workloads.

    I've been teaching high school English for four years now, and I'm simultaneously completing my MAT program.

    I have huge conflicts in time between writing up my preps (some of them "on the fly"), grading papers, and doing the reading and writing for my classes.

    As a relatively new teacher, I still take hours (sometimes days) to get grading done. This leads to a situation where I am forced to choose between getting grading done, having lessons ready, or doing homework. My philosophy in these cases is that I have a greater responsibility to my students than to the class I am taking.

    Hopefully, over time, I will become more efficient and this will be less of an issue, but according to all the teachers I've talked to, it's not a problem that ever goes away entirely.

    Teaching almost always wins.

  2. Well, while I see your point, I also have four preps and a family at home with three children — one of whom is special needs — and I manage to do a little more than phone it in while still meeting my other home and career obligations. I have a hard time believing that some of the other participants can't come up with more time to spend on the class. I'm more inclined to believe that they're simply not invested or interested in it. But I've participated in too many professional development scenarios with teachers to expect otherwise. Most of the time, no matter what the topic is, the teachers just don't want to do it. Granted, a lot of it is stupid. But my point is that finally we have options for professional development that aren't stupid, and the teachers are still acting the same way. I just think we could get more out of it if we put a little more into it, but perhaps that's a Pollyanna attitude.

  3. Well, I can't argue with you there. I'm not "phoning it in," it kills me when I miss stuff, and I catch up on it later, and getting my MAT ionly Professional Development by the broadest of standards.

    I suppose where professional development is concerned, you do end up with a lot of teachers whose attitude is "I'm only here 'cause they're making me come, but you're not gonna teach me anything." Hmmm … that sounds familiar. You'd think teachers would know better …

    I've heard a whole bunch of stuff in the ed classes and in mentoring about older, cynical teachers whose attitude toward professional development is that it's all a load of political BS, and that they don't need to take part, because they will outlast whatever the political change motivating the development is.

    Certainly, this could be a factor in what you're describing. I think another may be personal interest. Even if the book is great [to you], there may be other people (although the entire class seems high) who are there because the district is making them, or because they have to get a professional development point, and this is the only class available. After all, even if every teacher does/did love learning, they don't necessarily love learning everything.

    Anyway, I wish you luck getting through the rest of it, and hope you find or inspire someone in the class to keep up with you.

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