When starting out as a teacher you typically have stars in your eyes, excited about the lessons you are going to teach and the lives you are going to change. However, your learners aren’t the only ones affected by your presence: your colleagues are as well.
So, once you have settled in and set sail on your quest for greatness, you should stop and think about the kind of teacher you want to be, in terms of your role on your staff as a whole.
Here are 5 kinds of teachers you should avoid becoming at all costs …
1. The “Better Late Than Never”
There is one on every staff, a teacher who has no problem with coming late for school at least twice a week, sometimes more. These kinds of teachers are also often absent and will defend their absence with a suspicious-looking medical certificate from some doctor whom they swear is not family of theirs.
The problem with late-coming and absenteeism in teachers is that it creates problems for the rest of the staff. If you are late, one of your colleagues inevitably has to do some kind of admin duty for you, whether it’s taking your register class, taking the absenteeism of your class or standing in on one of your lessons. And then, when you finally arrive at school, you are clueless as to what’s going on at school that day and have probably missed some important announcements.
These teachers are, understandably, often some of the most disliked staff members. Perhaps you should think about it like this: how can you expect learners to be on time for school when you can’t be?
2. The “Gossip Girl”
There is always at least one staff member, usually more, who loves to gossip about everyone, whether it’s about learners, other teachers, or even the principal. It isn’t always a female teacher either.
This is the kind of teacher who always has his/her ears to the ground, and not in a good way. If there is a story going around, this teacher will know about it and is sometimes even the source of it. It doesn’t matter if it’s about what a bad teacher one of the teachers is or where the principal is going on holiday next, this teacher will know about it and will thrive on being able to share this “valuable” information with others.
Be careful not to fall into the trap of becoming a confidante of the “gossip girl”, as this could make you guilty by association. This kind of teacher is normally someone whose life is so boring that he/she will use children’s gossip to liven it up. Being a “gossip girl” is sad really, but be careful of gossip, nothing kills staff morale quicker than gossip.
3. The “Just Enough”
It is important to acknowledge and appreciate that some teachers have hectic schedules, with much too many tasks allocated to them. This is unfortunately the fate of many teachers, especially of those who work at schools that are under-staffed and under-funded. A trap that teachers can fall into however, is developing the attitude that they will do “just enough” to get by.
These are the teachers who run to their cars when they are allowed to leave every day, who get extremely upset when a meeting runs even 5 minutes over time and will never volunteer to help with any extra-mural event.
Here too, attitude is everything. If you come to work every day with the “just enough” attitude, you will probably get by as a teacher, you’ll work for ±40 years, retire not a day after your 60th birthday and get the pension you’ve worked for.
However, chances are you will never get a promotion, you will never experience anything new or exciting at school and your career will be a continuous, monotonous exercise that you do to get by, before you eventually get old and die.
Your colleagues will also learn to never approach you for help and advice, which means that when you need help one day, you will struggle to find someone to support you.
4. The “I in Team”
The success of a school partly depends on how well the staff works together: teachers, ground staff and management. If these groups of people care more about their own success than that of the school, chances are the school will not be successful in all areas, or at least not as successful as it can be.
If you are a new teacher, or you just generally struggle to work as part of a group, the best advice is to try and be as accommodating to your colleagues as possible, for the sake of the school and not your own. When you have this mind set, you will likely discover that if the group is successful, you are too.
Guard against being the teacher who wants to put an “i” in team. The other teachers are not as stupid as you might think, they will quickly notice if all of your actions have some kind of benefit for you, especially if your actions don’t benefit the school as well.
Teachers like this will jump from group to group, alliance to alliance, because they will always be looking for the situation that can best benefit them.
The danger of being this kind of teacher is that your colleagues will become wary of you and you could easily find yourself without any support when you need it most.
5. The “Grinch”
No, this kind of teacher has nothing to do with Christmas; the “Grinch” is the kind of teacher who doesn’t want anyone else to be successful or happy in their jobs, especially not their colleagues. This kind of teacher is similar to the “I in Team” teacher, but that mentality is taken even further here. The “Grinch” teacher is not only looking out for number 1, but is also making sure that no-one else achieves this position.
Words like “back-stabber”, “two-faced” and “hypocrite” are used to describe this kind of teacher, as they will often pretend to be all perfect and working for the good of the school, but actually they are just collecting enough ammunition to launch their next attack. The tone of language used to describe the “Grinch” teacher will already tell you that this is the worst kind of teacher you can be.
Teachers like this should remember the John Dunne truth that “no man is an island”, meaning that the other teachers at your school can have a significant impact on your well-being. Although it can be argued that popularity isn’t everything, being hated is not easy.
The “Grinch” will often be hated by other staff members and therefore not be included in any fun activities that staff might be attending together. The saddest thing about it is that the other teachers will move on with their lives perhaps move to other schools, or even other careers that make them happy.
The “Grinch” however, will be stuck in that same position, still unhappy, still plotting away, only to leave the school when they are forced to upon retirement or death.
If you want to avoid becoming any of these 5 kinds of teachers, you should try to remember that you are ultimately working for the benefit of your school and the learners that attend it.
The truth is that not all teachers will like each other, and there’s nothing to be done about that, but the key is to remain professional and get the job done.