Teachers need to be teachers, not friends

Sherry Lucas

Sometimes you come across people and you can tell they were meant to do the job they are doing. They are brilliant, or funny, exceptionally intelligent, or witty, or skilled, and they make the job look easy. Smooth as silk, like they were born to do it.

Artists, for instance, can be taught to draw, but there are some that have an inherent natural ability. They can render an incredible piece of art work in a matter of minutes.

Comedians as well, some just make you laugh naturally, some work really hard at it and maybe hit that sweet spot every once in awhile.

Then there are the times when you come across those who you look at and say to yourself, why?

Why is this person working with people when they are clearly not a people person? Or why is this person working with children when it is obvious they have no patience.

Lately I have been hearing about people in a particular profession that seems to me should be exceptional at what they do and if not, they shouldn’t be doing it.

The profession I am referring to is education, teachers in particular. There are teachers that when you end a semester you’re saying “Wow, I enjoyed being in that class, the instructor was great and I really learned something.” You may be saying “Oh my goodness, so and so is a hard teacher but I liked him or her because they had personality and cared about what they taught and I feel good about the knowledge I gained after finishing the class.”

Then, there are those teachers. Those who are more interested in entertaining students with their personal lives, even though students aren’t there to learn about their personal lives and maybe their personal lives aren’t all that entertaining (I guess that is up to perception though), but these teachers obviously think it is worth talking about and that students can glean some sort of academic value from their experiences. Don’t get me wrong, interjecting personal tidbits about one’s life, that pertain to the subject matter at hand, or the particular conversation of the moment is a good thing, it lets you relate to and get to know that instructor on a little bit more of a personal level.

Some however, take their stories to extremes and go off on tangents about topics that are ridiculous and irrelevant to what the class subject matter is. Or a subject that is of great interest to them but only relatively interesting to their students. They just do not know when to stop, and sometimes, they pull the students in and let them go on and on and don’t stop them either.

Then there is the, I will do what I want issue.  They allow drinks and cell phones in the class room, because they themselves want to be able to do it. Some of them are busy answering their own cell phones and talking in front of the class, and then after they have hung up they talk and laugh about the conversation they just had, to the entire class as if it is entertaining to the students. All the while drinking their coffee that they have repeatedly let you know they can’t do without.

I will let you do what you want, since I do it, I can’t tell you not too. Even though the rules say not to, you will think I am cool because I am an easy going teacher. Standard rules just don’t seem to matter.

One would think that even though the rules may seem petty and not really that important, instructors are there to set the example, and so should.

And lastly, but most certainly not the least of importance, if you’re going to give homework, grade it and hand it back. How can a draft be due and two weeks later the final paper, but no corrected draft has been given back? What then is the point of that draft? The return of graded homework just doesn’t happen as often as it should.

If instructors don’t have time to do their part why should the students? They will though, because their grades depend on it. What consequence is there for the professor not being timely in regards to homework? Or on time to class for that matter, that doesn’t seem to be a priority for students when it isn’t for the instructor either.

I understand that people are unique and have their own individual personalities, and what may be of value to one is not necessarily the same to another, so all students may not feel the same way about a given professor, but certain routines in a setting such as a classroom are usually expected to be adhered to. Even if someone has a sort of unconventional teaching style that is alright, it is when the educational process is affected that it no longer becomes cool.

Having said all that, I realize education is being tested to its limits due to the economy and budget cuts, etc., classes fill quickly and close and students are happy to get an add slip.

This is an act of kindness, when the instructors try to accommodate the students, but one also needs to know his or her limits and not bite off more than he or she can chew.

Knowing there are more than likely a dozen teachers ready to snatch up any available teaching position, those instructors might want to assess the way they are doing their jobs, and ask themselves if they are truly doing what they were meant to be doing.