Redefining School: Eradicate Teacher Hypocrisy



We all know that modeling is perhaps the most powerful aspect of teaching – that we might tell students to do something 1000 times with no effect, but do it ourselves for them to see and the effect is palpable.

Yet, how often do we genuinely model the things we are constantly expecting our students to do, become competent at and comfortable with?

Speaking in public is a classic example. We expect it of our students every day… we expect them to respond to questions or contribute ideas in whole class discussions – yet how often does silence fall in staff meetings or workshops when teachers are expected to do the same? “Oh… I’m not comfortable speaking in large groups…” Hypocrisy. And what of assemblies? Putting our students in front of 100s of other students and expecting them to cope yet hiding away in fear if the same is asked of us? “I’m terrified of public speaking!” Hypocrisy.

Its the same with openly sharing our mathematical thinking… “Oh, I’m not comfortable with that, I’m terrible at maths” or drawing “Oh, I’m not doing that in front of anybody… I am so bad at Art” or publishing their writing “I’m scared about putting myself out there.”


It is an endless stream of hypocrisy that culminates in the ultimate hypocrisy – teachers who talk constantly in meetings, presentations or workshops yet lambaste their students when they do exactly the same thing in their lessons.

So, to redefine schools, we should get teachers well out of their comfort zones, or fill schools with teachers who are ready and willing to step out of their comfort zones or just remove the whole idea of comfort zones completely. Unless, of course, we’re going to respect the comfort zones of our students and allow them to be limited by them (after all, how do we know that isn’t the right thing to do?) And, maybe we should be up front and call people out on hypocrisy and remove the “do as I say not as I do” mentality permanently.

Our schools could be full of teachers who are sharing their talents, who are putting themselves out there, who are giving it a go despite not “being comfortable with it”, who are willing to recognize their shortcomings and addressing them, who are leading by example.

Imagine that.


  1. Pingback: Getting Creatively REAL with Our Students – HonorsGradU
  2. Shannon O'Dwyer

    Hi Sam,

    Teachers do expect students to take risks and learn outside their comfort zones – but teachers also create classroom climates where risk-taking is safe, divergent ideas are embraced, individuality is celebrated, mistakes are essential and each child feels valued. Step into a classroom where risk-taking is high and the respectful culture is palpable.

    As administrators, are we doing enough to create organisations and staff meetings where adults feel safe to take risks, be wrong, putting forth contrary ideas and share knowledge? I wonder if we see teachers holding back not out of hypocrisy but out of uncertainty about the implications of their words/actions in our learning communities? Do they know that their ideas will be met with appreciation, not judgment? Are they hyper-aware of references and reputations? Or are they really free to focus on their own learning? Are they sure that their leaders would prefer them to share, ask, be wrong, cause conflict and learn, rather than keep their thoughts to themselves? Are they talking to their colleagues because they trust them? Are they talking to process an idea, even through a filter of scepticism? Let them talk! And find a way to hear what they’re saying! The onus is on us to build trust. Before we expect them to step out of their comfort zones, teachers must feel sure that we expect adult learning to be messy and mistake-ridden, and that we will cheer them on throughout the journey, always viewing them as humans, and learners – not just teachers.

    Always thought-provoking. Always inspiring. Thank you for blogging. ALL our schools need your voice!


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