The Marginal Teacher

The Marginal Teacher

We have all been there.  We have all been in a classroom led by someone who would rather be fishing, golfing, watching hockey, singing opera, or salsa dancing.  We knew it and they knew it.  As students, we just found ways around it: we asked our parents or friends for help.  Sometimes we may have even asked other teachers for help.  But that’s just how we helped ourselves.
What do we do to help the teachers in question?  As students, we often don’t have anything more than our voices to help the teacher.  We can ask for clarification or more depth on the subject.  This may or may not work.  Ironically, it is the same problem faced by colleagues or administrators who have to work with this teacher.
Now, one thing I really like about the presentation shared above is that it identifies that we are all “marginal teachers” some days.  When we are swimming in mountains of paperwork, coaching or supervision duties, I think we would all agree we don’t deliver the best to our students.  When this attention to matters outside the classroom becomes the norm, though, is when a helpful hand from a colleague or administrator is useful.
Campbell, in his presentation, does a good job of identifying who is who when it comes to marginal teaching.  Some people self-identify; others have no idea anything is wrong.  Some people are downright hostile.  All are destructive to the learning environment if left to their own devices.
As a leader, I think there is no better thing to do than to expect and model greatness.  The great thing about greatness is that it need only be the best you can do.  People will tend to do what is expected of them, so if they are furnished with the visible presence of a leader, the means with which to achieve their goals, and positive support of their efforts, success is theirs to lose.  Regularly observing your colleagues and staff “doing it right” is a small investment that pays enormous dividends in the long run.
At the end of the day, we are all having a bad day some days.  It’s up to all of us to help our friends and colleagues out.  There’s nothing wrong with teaching golf, too!
Cheers!
S