Not being a lazy teacher is not the same as working too hard

I have written before about teachers and the “cult of business” – that perverse competitiveness that sometimes emerges between teachers as they jostle to see who arrives earliest and leaves latest each day!

Nobody can deny the commitment of these people, although they are often the ones who complain about being “overwhelmed” or “burnt out”. However, the fruits of their extreme labours are often rather difficult to identify, and may be hidden in the minutiae of over-planning, excessive marking and the preparation of reams of teacher-created materials.

While people like these are working so hard on these things, they may be missing something way more important – who their students are. While they may expend their energy on the details, the logistics and the practicalities, they may make little effort to discover what makes their students tick.

You see, I think that’s lazy.

You can work your fingers to the bone without ever tuning in to your students, without ever helping them “work from within” and without ever stimulating genuine inquiries in them. As a result, it is possible that your students may end up having a year doing those “low grade clerical tasks” that Sir Ken Robinson refers to – in a highly organised, highly effective but almost entirely uninspiring classroom.

Ironically, a teacher who arrives later and leaves earlier each day may well end up having a more profound effect on their students.

The art of teaching cannot be measured by hours spent on the premises.



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