Time and again we come across people at work who seem to have similar streaks and characteristics of other annoying colleagues.
WHILE the following is probably true of other professions and people in general, every once in a while in your teaching career, you do come across someone who bears an uncanny resemblance to someone else you know, or work with.
Many times, the similarities are not just based on the way they look, but on certain character traits that strikingly remind you of another person you know. In fact, of several other people you know.
You may have never believed in stereotypes or classifying people into categories by their unique or character traits or “trademarks”, but sometimes you may find it unavoidable.
And if you have been a teacher long enough, you will know that stereotypes do exist at least to a certain extent, because you seem to be bumping into the same kind of people in the six different schools you’ve been.
What is worse, you bump into them during meetings or courses with teachers from schools in different states in the country and this strengthens your belief in this whole stereotype thing. In fact you may be wondering if you are a stereotype yourself and how others are viewing you.
One of the first on the list of teacher stereotypes would definitely have to be the teacher who knows it all, or rather appears to know it all.
Well even if she doesn’t know quite everything about everything, she makes it a point to let you know that she certainly knows more than you.
Mention a certain news article you read recently about global warming and she’ll tell you about the melting of glaciers, rising sea levels, climate changes and NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) findings on the subject.
Ms know-it all
Talk about the impending changes in the curriculum, and she knows all about it already.
In fact, if you heard her right, she was the one that the decision makers consulted before there was even any talk of change.
Pretty soon it begins to seem as if “smarter-than-you teacher” has first-hand and complete information about everything that’s happening in the world, country and staffroom.
At times, she makes you feel that she knows more about you than you yourself do.
On the positive side, you can always count on her to provide significant information you may need from time to time, like when the principal will return from his China trip, who is in line for promotion, and how to get the measurements of ingredients right on a frozen cheese cake (only yours will never turn out quite as good as hers).
A close relative of “smarter-than-you teacher” is of course the better-than-you teacher who is always a notch or two higher than you on any scale and who takes great pains to demonstrate it.
This is the kind of person you should avoid when you are especially pleased with a certain outcome of your lesson or feel proud about a good review you’ve received from your students.
Don’t ever mention this in the presence of “better-than-you” because chances are that your joy of achievement will be diluted by her reference to the numerous, wonderful compliments she’s received about her teaching and the many cards and gifts of appreciation lavished upon her by eternally grateful students.
Nothing anyone has ever experienced compares to hers.
Talk about how you thought you got a really good deal with the fish you bought at the local market, and she’ll tell you how she managed to get fresher fish of a higher quality at a cheaper price elsewhere.
If you talk about how you got only four hours of sleep the previous night trying to finish grading students’ exercises, she’ll let you know that she only had three. And if you complain about how you had to come to school despite the bad headache, guess who is in school despite a migraine, back-ache and bad tummy?
“Better-than-you”, however is still possibly preferable to the “perennial-pessimist”, the one who is always negative and has nothing good to say about anything or anyone.
She is constantly telling you about how terrible the school administration, canteen, hall, field, toilet and staffroom are, and how she herself is victimised.
She’ll tell that all’s bad with the world and especially the education system, and that there’s no hope left for the next generation of students. According to “perennial-pessimist”, everything about school in general is doomed to end in failure.
Spending more time than necessary in her presence makes you feel depressed and you come away feeling a little drained of both energy and enthusiasm.
Then of course there will always be the “over-zealous and stickler-for-rules” teacher who makes flexibility sound like a bad word. This is the one who follows the letter to the dot and can sometimes make life miserable for others who aren’t overly obsessed with formalities.
She is also super-efficient, completely disciplined in her personal habits and could at times be a health and fitness fanatic.
So take care not to munch those oil-dripping curry puffs in front of her. Her work and everything else about her is always up to the mark. Hers is the record book you wouldn’t want to place yours next to when you send it in to the principal’s room for weekly checking.
There is however a tendency to be examination-obsessed which results in a loss of soul and passion in the teaching-learning experience in her classes.
On the other extreme is the laid-back, carefree and almost bohemian teacher whom you have never known to get worked up over deadlines or duties no matter how ridiculous they maybe.
Nothing perturbs or rattles her and she works at her own pace, in her own unconventional manner (which some of course equate to not working at all). Surprisingly though, she does manage to finish her work at the eleventh hour.
She is the nightmare of all principals and school administrators but turns out to be a good friend and listener and someone you could tell the most horrible thing about yourself to without the feeling of being judged.
On the bright side, you would rather have her company than the others and, you are always secretly (and shamefully) relieved that there will always be someone who turns in their work later than you when deadlines are imposed.
There probably is no end to stereotypes when you come to think about it, and most of us are probably in the overlapping zones of several types ourselves. Still it is a little amazing sometimes that people are not so very different from each other after all, and quite possibly the things we dislike most in someone else could be a reflection of ourselves that we see in them.
Teacher Talk By MALLIKA VASUGI
Source: The STAR Home Education Sunday April 08, 2012