Tag Archives: teaching

Who Are You??

Frustrated teacher  Let’s say there are five different teachers (or business owners or nurses or pastors or – pick a profession). And let’s say they have five different kinds of personalities.  So let’s take a peek at what they might be like . . .

   Teacher #1: This teacher has a very black-and-white personality. There is right and there is wrong. There might be gray but not very often. It’s not that she’s mean; she simply sees everything in terms of rules and fairness. The bottom line is justice for all.

   Teacher: “So Johnny, tell me why your homework is not done.”

   Student:  “I forgot.”

   Teacher:  “That’s a zero.”

   Student: “But that’s not fair! I should get another chance!”

   Teacher: “Johnny, this is the third time you didn’t do your homework. Would it be fair to give you another chance when everyone else did their homework?”

   Student: “You shouldn’t give me a zero!”

   Teacher: “I’m not giving you a zero; you earned a zero. Explain how I can give you points for something you didn’t do.”

   Johnny couldn’t explain it so Johnny got a zero.

   Teacher #2: This teacher sees people in terms of resources and of getting the job done for the good of all. The bottom line is – well, the bottom line.

   Teacher: “So Johnny, tell me why your homework is not done.”

   Student: “I forgot.”

   Teacher: “You’re not learning anything if you never do your homework.”

   Student: “It has too much reading! I hate reading!”

   Teacher: “How are you going to pass your final if you can’t read the material?”

   Student: “Don’t care!”

   Teacher calls across the room: “Lindsey, you’re good at reading. I’m sending this boy over to you. Partner read with him.”

   Johnny passed his final. Barely.

   Teacher #3: This teacher sees all people as fallible and believes in second chances. And third chances. And fourth chances . . .

   Teacher: “So Johnny, tell me why your homework is not done.”

   Student: “I forgot.”

   Teacher: “Why? Is something going on at home?”

   Student: “I dunno.”

   Teacher: “There must be a reason.”

   Student: “I hate reading!”

   Teacher: “Do you want to come in after school for help?”

   Student: “No, I’ll do it tonight, but will you take points off?”

   Teacher: “As long as you try, I’ll give you credit. But I expect to see something tomorrow.”

   The teacher didn’t see anything the next day. Or the next day. But she still believes.

   Teacher #4: This teacher is a “just the facts” kind of person. It’s her responsibility to teach, and it’s a student’s responsibility to learn. That’s all.

   Teacher: “So Johnny, tell me why your homework is not done.”

   Student: “I forgot.”

   Teacher: “Why? Are you having trouble with it?” 

   Student: “I hate reading! It’s hard!”

   Teacher: “Then let’s see what we can do. Pull up a chair.”

   Student: “But I don’t like reading.”

   Teacher: “You will once you can do it. Now read that paragraph. Let’s figure out the problem.”

   Student: “I don’t want to.”

   Teacher: “Not going to force you. Is that your final answer?”

   Student: “I’m not doing it.”

   Teacher: “Fine. I will be calling your father. Take a seat.”

   The teacher informed Johnny’s dad of the problem and suggested Johnny practice reading at home. The ball is now in their court.

Teacher #5: This teacher believes that, with enough financial resources, any student can succeed. She believes school districts are responsible to provide those supplies if parents cannot or will not supply them.

   Teacher: “So Johnny, tell me why your homework is not done.”

   Student: “I forgot.”

   Teacher: “Where’s your book?”

   Student: “I lost it.”

   Teacher: “Where’s your notebook and pencil?”

   Student: “I lost them.”

   Teacher: “Here’s another notebook and pencil. Here’s a book to take with you – just remember to put a cover on it.”

   Student: “We don’t have any.”

   Teacher: “Here’s one. Now sit and read.”

   Student: “I forgot breakfast, too.”

   Teacher: “You didn’t have any breakfast?”

   Student: “No.”

   Teacher: “Okay, you can have a cereal bar, but you have to read the book.”

Student: “What book?”

   These five women have all had the same education and training. Nevertheless, they operate very differently as teachers. This is because each one has a different personality type (as listed in Romans 12:6-8) which colors how each perceives the world and responds to it.

   The first teacher has what the Bible calls the prophet personality. In God’s big picture, the prophet-type is the person wired to keep order by informing and enforcing the rules and laws in any given culture, organization or family. These individuals often operate as the law enforcement or judicial branches of businesses or families.

   The second teacher has the administrator personality. This person is a natural-born leader geared toward casting vision for the bottom-line goal of any organization: success and/or profit. The leader also has a natural ability to pinpoint the strengths of individuals and to use them for the common good. CEO’s, coaches, and politicians often have this personality type.

   The third teacher is the mercy person and a natural cheerleader. This personality believes in the inherent goodness of every person and that, given enough chances, anyone can succeed. They simply need encouragement. While every organization needs its encouragers, sometimes this personality sees accountability as “unloving” and so can tend toward enabling. Often the mercy person and the prophet-type do not get along.

   The fourth teacher is a natural-born teacher. (Here “teacher” is a personality type, not a profession.) The teacher personality is primarily interested in imparting information and the application of it. This personality is rather neutral; students may choose to learn or not – that’s not the teacher’s business. Imparting knowledge is. Every organization needs trainers, but don’t expect a babysitter-type.

   The fifth teacher has the “giver” personality. These are the people in God’s economy who fund other enterprises and are supernaturally generous. If taken to the extreme, these people will “give away the farm.” In the natural, they are often investors and philanthropists.

   Every person on the planet has one of these personality types coloring his perceptions, motivations and actions, and every organization needs a combination of these personalities in order to succeed. As people seeking our destinies, we need to understand which personality type we have as well as its particular strengths and weaknesses. We also need to work with the other personality types to ensure the success of our endeavors.

   After all, success is a team sport.

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

 

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When the Dream Is Not Behaving

Broken Success Glass           Did you ever have a dream come true – but not the way you thought? It didn’t happen the way you thought it would happen, it didn’t look the way you thought it would look, and it didn’t turn out the way you thought it would turn out. But still, your dream came true . . .

            Or did it?

            When I began teaching 17 years ago, it was after I’d been out of school for many years and teaching didn’t look at all like I thought it would look. Not that God hadn’t called me to it; He most clearly had in ways that were undeniable. But teaching looked and felt so different than what I had expected that many times I would’ve quit – had God not made His call so clear.

            But still, when I began teaching high school English and found that 10th and 11th grade students couldn’t tell a noun from a verb from an adjective – nor did they care to – I was upset. But, I thought, just hold on till next year. It’ll be better then. But it wasn’t. By the third year of “I don’t know, don’t care, and don’t care to know,” I had a moment of truth: it was always going to be this way.

           Livin’ the dream.

           Of course (some would argue), if a teacher is a good one, she’ll make kids want to learn. However, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him write an essay. (Or something like that.)  Nevertheless, they might be right. Back in the day when I was in school, teachers made us want to work. I think their paddles might have had something to do with that.

            Today I guess I’m reflecting on all of this because four things happened last week to make the point. Not, unfortunately, that last week was all that unusual.

            Monday I noticed a student crying. She wouldn’t say why but another student told me that there’d been a suicide in her (extended) family. What do you say to that? I told her how sorry I was and tried to coax her to talk to me, to somebody, but she wouldn’t. I didn’t ask her to do any work but I had to wonder why she’d come to school. Maybe it was just better than being at home . . .

          Tuesday I went to a house to tutor a student who, by the way, doesn’t do any work. And he’ll tell you that. He told me that – twelve times. And he’s been not working for several months while being home-tutored, but next year he’ll be in the next grade anyway. Why? Because in this country, we have this wonderful thing called “social promotion” (which I could write a whole post on); this means that students are promoted through school based on age and facial hair – no lie – and not on mastery of skills. Of course, mastery is such a ridiculously archaic idea. Ever wonder why the United States ranks behind a hundred other countries in education? That’s why.

           Wednesday I had a kid arguing and yelling that he would most certainly not put his cell phone on my desk, and when I suggested he then go to the office and explain it to them, he declined that offer, too – only louder – in case I didn’t hear him the first time. Of course, I insisted (how mean of me) but still, he didn’t see my point of view. And from there it went. Eventually, he left but informed me on the way out the door that he would not, despite my recommendation, leave his phone in his locker next time.

           Sigh.

           Thursday, a girl in study hall had a major meltdown because another teacher had given her a lower grade on a project than she thought she deserved. There was much yelling and the throwing of books and threats of bodily harm to the teacher. Attempts on my part to do negotiations failed miserably. Oh, well. She’ll probably end up with the completely effective deterrent of home-bound tutoring where she’ll be forced to sleep in and play video games all day except for the two hours she’d be rudely interrupted to be tutored one-on-one. So sad.

           Why am I venting like this? To make a point: there will be days when “the dream” is just not behaving itself. There will be disappointments, perhaps tears, maybe even a failure here and there. You might even hear yourself saying some version of, “Why did I ever want to do this???”  But then, right when you’re ready to get the eraser and re-write the dream, you feel a little nudge and hear a quiet whisper, “You know why . . .”

            And you do.