Monday, December 26, 2016

Beware of Chad, and you know what I mean

So, let’s talk about crappy teachers, of whom there are many.

What are the signs of a crappy teacher?  It all depends on the school, the subject, and the administrative oversight.  Administrators may think a teacher is bad because he or she doesn’t follow all the inane strictures placed on him or her.  That doesn’t necessarily mean anything.  Some administrators are micromanagers, and they suck as well.

A parent may think a teacher is bad because the parent either doesn’t understand what the teacher is doing, or the parent is upset because the child isn’t getting what he or she considers to be due consideration.  Again, this view is subjective and can’t be taken as gospel.  Kids lie to their parents about school all the time.

Here’s a good way to gauge teacher crappiness – what do other teachers feel about him or her?  If one never hears positive things about this teacher from other staff members, then one can be sure that he or she is not looked on favorably. 

Teachers KNOW.  We know who lets class get out of control regularly.  We know who’s constantly calling in sick or running late.  We know who wastes time letting kids watch videos and movies in class rather than working through curriculum materials.  We know who loses papers, who gives “participation grades” to keep everyone from failing, and who really doesn’t know the material.  We know because we’ve either seen these teachers in action or those same teachers keep coming to others to get help. 

So how do you know if your kid is in a crappy class?  Ask other teachers in the department questions about the class materials.  If you ask about one teacher, and the person you are questioning quickly changes the subject or starts talking about ANOTHER teacher who is good, you have your answer.

You can also ask your child, but don’t ask, “How do you like Ms. Adams?”  Ask your kid how often the teacher is absent, or if he or she often “steps out of the room” during class.  Does he or she send students out to run errands during instruction time?  Does anyone get bullied, and does the teacher intervene?  My favorite question to ask is, “What interesting things does your teacher tell you?”  What a student finds interesting is usually strange or sometimes horrifying to an adult. 

Find out what the grade breakdown is, and see what your kid is bringing home for homework grades or test grades.  By the way, if your kid NEVER has homework for said class, that doesn’t mean he or she has a bad teacher.  It means your kid isn’t doing the work and is trying to hide it from you.  The exception will be if the teacher says that he or she never gives homework.  Then it reverts back to a bad teacher.  There’s no teacher anywhere that won’t have to occasionally give out homework.

Just so you know, whether a teacher is good or bad has nothing to do with how long he or she has been teaching.  Your first-year instructor may be fabulous and full of energy, or be insecure and have zero classroom management skills.  Your veteran teacher of 25 years may be an old pro or may have fallen into bad habits that are too late to change now.

Most of us are trying our best, and we may make mistakes.  But some people think that teaching gives them a license to do whatever they want in a room full of kids.  Remember Chad, the coworker who plays on the Internet all day, eats other people’s food in the break room and generally messes up his expense reports?  Sometimes you’ll find Chad in the classroom as well.