The Myth of Super Teacher!

15.7.14

There was a time in my life when I thought I wasn’t a good teacher, and I would never be good enough. I was taught that if you thought you were good then it meant you were bad. Now, of course, I don’t feel that way. In fact, I can look back on my Waldorf years and see that I was a good teacher because I was trying and caring. I was invested in the job: mind, body and soul - and, yes, it took a toll.

I feel the idea of being “good enough” is something that we teachers have to struggle with on an constant basis. The reason why we are struggling with being “good enough” is because teachers are often seen as NOT being “good enough”. In other words, when there is a problem, regardless of origin, teachers are expected to “fix it” and if we are unable to, then we are considered part of the problem.

I’ll be the one to take full responsibility for my actions and like most of my peers, I know we are the first ones to think about how we can make any situation we come across - work. We are also the ones who will most likely be hard on ourselves for not figuring out a student or curriculum dilemma. Most teachers are damn hard workers, so I resent it when we are seen as “not good enough”.

Enter: The Myth of the Super Teacher. When I watched Roxanna Elden’s humorous speech, I was excited that she really nabbed what I feel to be an important issue facing teachers today. But I wanted to elaborate on this idea because her speech was mostly targeted to new teachers.

To watch, go here: http://vimeo.com/43565010

Teaching and learning is a relationship. We seem to forget this when we hammer teachers with clever ideas on how to make students behave. Relationship advice, as we know, varies greatly, depends on the situation and the other person. If a student refuses to cooperate or learn, then what are we supposed to do? Students have to be willing to learn and engage. I get frustrated when teachers are asked to do MORE when the students can get away with doing LESS.

What’s worst is we look like bad teachers because we are seen as “unable to handle it”. We’re not good enough. This was how I was perceived at Trembling Trees. And it's crushing to give it your all and be told you're not doing enough or your best.

Obviously, most students can be worked with, but what I want to break is, this myth that the teacher is “not doing enough” (aka automatically at fault) and can work mind-blowing miracles on a student-by-class basis.

I mean, Arne Duncan, the US Secretary of Education, has announced his brilliant new plan to put “good” teachers into low-performing schools! Here is the myth of the super teacher in pressure-cooker action. He’s kidding, right? Instead of looking at the reasons behind why certain schools are "low-performing" (aka low-income), he's assuming SUPER teacher can swoop on in and save the day.

Teachers need support. The expectation that we can always be better (this is really put on us), use our free time to do more work (which we already do) and give, give, give (we do, we do, we do) has got to stop. These days our most experienced teachers have 1-2 years when 20 years ago it was about 15 years. This is not a good sign. Enter the great exodus of teachers in these United States.

We can be superheroes because, frankly, that is why many of us got into the profession. We wanted to do good. We wanted to help students. We are already naturally martyrs and saints. Stop telling us “the skies the limit,” because most of us are already reaching as high as we can and with meager pay. The teaching profession is in a dysfunctional relationship with society and society keeps saying, “You’re not good enough.” I resent teachers being the scapegoat for society’s ills.

There is a great economical divide not only in the US, but throughout the world. In other words, we have big problems we need to solve. The issue of education is extremely related to haves and have nots. It’s time to think about how we can raise each other up rather than putting one another down. I think we will find it more effective for the education of our children, and our human kind.

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