EVERY profession has its fair share of black sheep. Teaching is no exception. If we want quality teachers, identifying the black sheep is a necessary first step.
Who are they? They are the irresponsible, lukewarm, uninitiated, lackadaisical, indifferent, manipulative and deceitful teachers. They are a bane to the noble teaching fraternity.
We need to expose their "traits and tricks" so that they would feel ashamed and hopefully repent and begin anew in the right way.
Also, young and new school administrators need to be made aware of the unscrupulous acts and indiscipline of these errant teachers and know how to deal with them according to disciplinary regulations.
How do these black sheep "operate"?
In my 32 years in education -- in teaching as well as in school administration --I had come across some difficult colleagues and staff. I believe their "clones" continue to exist in our schools today.Let me share a few cases.
First, as senior assistant (academic), my duty included supervising the running of the school library. Upon reporting to the school, I was soon taken on a "guided" tour of the library by the library teacher. He explained as we moved along and soon we were at the "works" section.
I could see some new books, magazines, periodicals, comics and stationery items on a large table; some books were half wrapped, some seemed like in the process of being catalogued and there were many half-finished labels of different colours.
The teacher pointed out that it was his workstation and that on the table were simply some work-in-progress materials.
Impressive! But later, I was to find out that the same "display" on the table was on all the time for any potential visitor. It was a show put up to "impress". In reality, the library teacher's work was sluggish. We have teachers who are showy in form but empty in substance.
Second, a teacher requested that he be exempted from teaching the last period of the day, citing age and health as excuses. Every day, about the time for the last bell, he would park his car with the engine running near the school front gate.
The moment the bell rang, his car moved off. No time was wasted. I found out that he was rushing off to his tuition classes outside, which on certain days ran into more than one session. What dedication and commitment was he exhibiting?
We have teachers who "work" part-time at their full-time job in school but work full-time outside of school.
Third, is a teacher who had worked very hard and had produced results. But, somehow he was bypassed in the first promotion exercise that came his way. He was naturally disgruntled and discouraged. Then he made the "fatal" decision to boycott and even to sabotage the system. He became uncooperative, rebellious, shunning responsibility and inert even in his basic teaching duties. Assuredly, he missed his second promotion exercise. He should have been wiser, and soldiered on. We have teachers who need to strengthen their character to take on the wears and tears in life. A positive outlook and right attitude is the prerequisite to being a good teacher.
Fourth, are the many teachers who are at the top of their salary scale and who take their tasks lightly. They are in "cruise" mood, like dead wood. There was one teacher who went overboard. He became not only irresponsible and unconcerned, but insubordinate. He was telling others that even if he was to get a "static" for his annual performance assessment it would not affect his pay as he was already at the top of his salary scale. We have teachers who unfortunately prioritise pay more than their profession.
Poor performing and unrepentant teachers have a damaging effect to their charges and a negative influence on their colleagues. They must be identified and disciplined. It is hoped that the Education Ministry would be strict in ensuring that quality prevails in the school system.Liong Kam Chong, Seremban, Negri Sembilan New Straits Times Letters to the Editors 13/06/2013