There are five kinds of teachers. Did anyone tell you?
A senior colleague once told me that there are five kinds of students. He figured there were basically five different report cards one could write about any group of kids.
I take report writing seriously enough that I write them all in Word first about each student. So they are pretty individualised. I really respect this guy, as he is usually right, but I never found out what those five types of kids are…instead, I’m going to test his theory with my version: The Five Kinds of Teachers:
1. The Professor:
Weaknesses: these teachers take their academic loads very seriously but their nervousness around their students can forfeit their efficacy. You might have seen some of these in Teachers College. They are often rely on traditional learning styles, but are big on preaching about the various kinds (most Teacher PD is run this way unfortunately). The danger is that they are unable to reach the students who learn by socialising, or those who are less-inclined towards reading. At their worst, this teacher’s behaviour is categorised by someone who asks a question and doesn’t listen to the answer.
Forgoing flexibility, these teachers always stick to their lesson plans (ignoring even their own discovery that they might be ‘beating a dead horse’ or that the kids would be more intrigued by taking a different angle). They have to be careful not to be so focussed on the course texts that they neglect the emotions of the students; the worst result is that they fail to engage the students to learn anything.
Strengths: The teacher who is mindful of these weaknesses is able to really inspire their students. They share news stories and current events showing true learning beyond the four walls of the classroom.
2. M. Blinx
Weaknesses: Although similar to “The Professor” in their good intentions, this teacher confuses the students by frequently leaving the class unexpectedly. Usually they are going off in search of activities for the students, but they neglect to communicate this and the kids notice. They are, in a word: disorganised. They are usually given more senior students where they can do the least amount of harm. But these kids don’t really learn anything. Students and teachers coexist but both are utterly confused.
Strengths: students appreciate the time to socialise in class and they learn to be critical thinkers by criticising the behaviour of their teacher…The students enjoy the time to just “hang out” and the undemanding, peaceful atmosphere in this space is a good time to catch up on ‘other work’
3. Mr. Game-Show:
Weaknesses: These teachers might risk losing the respect of their peers because they appear at times unprofessional. In fact, they often are unprofessional and this is what attracts the students…but the risky part is that these teachers can get themselves into unsafe situations if they are not professional in the most important moments. They are teachers who are easy to get “off-track” to tell stories; they win the “popularity” contest at the risk of teaching curriculum. They often risk losing the respect of the mature students who realise that their winning of the popularity contest is a priority for this teacher because their own adult life is not that interesting.
Strengths: This teacher is big on building rapport with the students, and the students as a result love him/her. The student’s do lots of self-learning in this class, especially if they want to achieve.
4. The Tyro:
Strengths: ever enthusiastic, this teacher works tirelessly. They charm the students with their youth and cross either through “The Professor” or “Mr. Game-Show” in their best moments and “M. Binx” in their less diligent phases. Ultimately, they show signs of weakness of all three as well.
Weaknesses: The teacher often burns out by causing themselves unnecessary stress. They do not realise yet the full ways in which school life is transient and will spend all summer long working away at a course load that will inevitably change on Day 1. They haven’t been teaching long, and will write one lesson plan 15 times before changing it again at the last minute, forcing them to create a new handout at recess. The students learn, but are a bit pissed off and often confused and ultimately too afraid to ask. There continues to be an uncertainty as to expectations until after the exam.
5. The Scaffolder
Strengths: This teacher is probably in their mid-forties. They have been in the game a long time and are cynical enough to protect themselves and their students. They make teaching their priority (but not marking) and as a result they can reach, teach and inspire almost all simply through a good rapport with most students and a very structured way of learning each activity.
Weaknesses: Their humorous cynicism can be “catching” to younger teachers, who don’t quite get that they are teasing fondly, and the younger teachers become just cynical about school life. They also need to be careful that their ‘hands-on’ structure challenges the stronger students. Usually this is the case. Utlimately, we’re not perfect people but should strive to be like this one who is the least worst of them all.
So, does it work to categorise into 5 kinds? Have I missed a really important one?