These teachers were very much admired, appreciated and celebrated by their charges and schools. Nevertheless, as in all professions, there is a small number of “black sheep” in the teaching fraternity.
I would not be honest if I say I have not come across any during my tenure in education. They were there then and they prevail in today’s school scene.
For a change, I want to write about these “black sheep” teachers. I do not aim to expose, shame or condemn any (some could have already retired), but with the hope that they or their “types”, on reading this, will repent and amend their ways.
While there are many good teachers in our schools, there are also some who are neither dedicated nor committed.
I was the new senior assistant of a suburban secondary school. In my first week, I was taken on a familiarisation tour of the school. When we reached the library, the teacher in charge s received us.
As we proceeded, we came to a side table stacked with new books, an inventory file, catalogue cards, tape, scissors and other writing and marking equipment.
The teacher explained that he was cataloguing the new books before shelving them.
The table was his work station. He seemed satisfied to have the chance to expound his work to his seniors. I thanked and gave him words of encouragement before we moved on.
A few weeks later, I went to the library again on my own. Surprise! The contents on that side table were exactly as they were when I last saw them.
Apparently, it was a “demonstration” table to show off the teacher’s “work” to visitors. In reality, very little cataloguing was done.
A specific teacher had somehow got himself free from teaching the last period everyday. When the timetable was released, he would laboriously engage with other teachers if he needed to exchange the last teaching period for an earlier one.
Then, everyday, half an hour or so before school was over, he would drive his car close to the school gate, park there with the engine running and sit inside the air-conditioned car.
The moment the school bell rang, his car would be the first to leave the compound. He would rush through lunch and drive to a tuition centre in time for his afternoon session.
He also tried to squeeze in more sessions before the day was out. So, to him, time in essence was money! Wasn’t this teacher akin to doing full-time job in his part-time job, and a part-time job in his full-time job?
I would not say he was dedicated in either.
In the earlier days, teachers’ handouts, test and exam papers had to be cyclostyled to produce the numbers required. The school office had a special corner equipped with cyclostyle machines for this purpose. One or two office staff members were assigned to the task.
During exam season, the laboratory staff members might be roped in to help. There was this teacher who consistently requested for more copies of the printout than her class’ or classes’ number of students.
An alert office staff brought this to my attention. When asked to explain, she first defended herself by saying she needed more copies in case there were faulty copies.
Then, she admitted that the extra copies were for her tuition classes outside.
After that, the office decided to list all the class enrolment figures and paste it in the printing room. That way, they were able to check the copies ordered against the enrolment numbers.
This teacher was a department-head in his former school before he was transferred to my school, and held the same position. He was all eager to take on the challenge.
Soon, he informed us that he had understudied the school in matters of his department, and was ready to present to the school administration team his well-thought-out five-year blueprint for his department.
He was most welcome to do so.
Equipped with PowerPoint slides and notes, he launched himself into an eloquent presentation: his rationale, objectives, purposes, aims, long- and short-term projections, programmes, projects and activities.
All went well until it came to a slide where the name of his former school popped up in the midst of statements. That was it. It was a goreng show, something adopted from his previous briefings.
It was not really what he had said: that he had understudied the school situation. His careless mistake had put paid to what he promised, although, overall, that blueprint was not totally without merit.
We have many good teachers in our schools. However, as administrators, we need to separate the chaff from the wheat. Honour only those who have proven their worth.