Teaching…. continued

So, as teacher as artist, you are perfecting your individual techniques.  Don’t forget to explore other ones.


Schools do not necessarily want teachers as artists.  I would go so far as to say they hate them.  School administrators would like you, as well as your students, to proceed in lock step.  Success, they say, can only be obtained in one way.  By the way, that way changes with the textbooks they have selected which match the tests the district and state have adopted.

School districts cannot even differentiate between teaching techniques that work with elementary and then with high school students.  I was talking with a high school teacher today who related an in-service video which extolled the technique of having students wear their vocabulary on head bands.  Can you imagine high school students doing that?  Can you imagine how many headbands students in biology or chemistry would have to wear?  My favorite technique supported by my high school was the use of “Word Walls”.  According to this technique you put your vocabulary terms for the week on your classroom wall and then develop different techniques and games to facilitate the learning of these term.  This has merit in elementary school.  However, in my Economics class, it is silly when you have twenty to forty new terms a week.  If you point out that “the emperor has no clothes”, they will say that you are absolutely right.  And, furthermore, they and you will be evaluated on these techniques.

What does one do?


You must bifurcate.   If you do not do, what they want, they will either fire you, or you will have your contract non-renewed.  (Non-renewal is how schools fire people without cause.)  Don’t be shocked; it happens all the time.  Reasons for non-renewal vary from not having word walls to organizing or supporting a teachers union.  Administrators love non-renewals.  They don’t have to have a reason to get rid of a teacher.  That is also why they prefer to give one hear contracts.  That is also why they dislike tenure.  The choice is yours; bifurcate and teach, or follow their insanity.

How do you bifurcate?

First, keep your door closed.

Second, make a check list of the techniques and methodology you are to follow.  And, be sure to have everything posted you are supposed to.  I.e. “word walls”, “fists of learning”, etc.

Third, practice using these techniques with the students.  They will complain, but tell them they can do these things for a few days or every day for the rest of the course.

Fourth, always support the new techniques with your administrator, particularly in faculty meetings.  At the very least don’t question the new methodology.   (Remember that it is the squeeky hinge that gets the lube job.)

NOW, close your door and teach your students with your best techniques that work with your students.  When the administrator shows up, go into the dog and pony show with your students.

to be continued.