• There are so many incredible amazing teachers out there–men and women who work long hours in an often thankless and poorly compensated position.  I know that I am not alone in being so grateful to them for caring for our children, teaching them, and getting them excited about learning.  There are certainly some children so challenging that they cannot be taught and controlled in a positive way by even the greatest of teachers. However, for the most part, every child has something that interests him/her and it’s really a matter of figuring out how to connect with that child. Great teachers know how to do this.  What upsets me the most is when the less-than-great teachers make children dislike learning.  So, with that in mind, I put together a list of my top ten teacher pet peeves.

    1)      It’s just a job – This is the teacher who comes to school looking bored and/or worn out at the beginning of the day.  Every day. You can tell that they are not prepared for the lesson, could care less about teaching and are simply there to get a paycheck. To them I say: Show the kids that you care and take the time to learn about your students and their needs.  If that doesn’t work for you then find another profession.

    2)      Long winded – Kids have short attention spans. Lessons get lost and kids drift off when you’re not succinct with your message. You’re not just there to babysit and fill the time. Don’t drone on and on.  Be creative; add physical activity and movement to your lessons to break things up a bit. Movement and blood flow allow the entire body to participate in the learning, which makes the lesson much more memorable.

    3)      Not fulfilling promises – Trust and respect go hand in hand.  If you promise an activity or reward then you’ll probably lose children’s respect if you don’t deliver. Lost credibility is hard to regain.

    4)      Lack of Communication – Don’t talk down to children. They need to know your expectations and what is and is not acceptable. This includes class rules, homework assignments, etc.  Be clear and the kids can rise to meet your expectations and hopes for them.  Be unclear and everyone will be frustrated.

    5)      Don’t show respect – If you want your class to arrive prepared and on time, then lead by example.  And remember that respect is a two-way street. Children will respect you if you do the same. It’s good to be humble and let them know that you can learn as much from them as they can learn from you.

    6)      Afraid to admit mistakes – Kids are not stupid. Don’t blame others for your shortcomings or when you mess up. Quickly say what you did wrong or how you messed up and what you’re going to do to correct it. It’s that simple!

    7)      Doesn’t reward or rebuke as necessary – Reward and recognize children who participate and volunteer for assignments. At the same time, pounce on those who are obstructionists and are just trying to disrupt the class. Don’t lose control by sending every kid to the principal for discipline. It shows that you can’t handle the class and you will lose their collective respect. Take control and they’ll admire you for knowing when to reward and when give consequences in a timely manner.

    8)      Fails to Teach –Some children can read the book and learn a topic while others need more direction and guidance. It’s easy to focus on and cater only to the good kids who are participating and involved in your lesson. Try to avoid any favoritism and learn to engage everyone. Draw upon the strengths of those who seem disinterested and bring them back into the discussion.

    9)      Don’t try to be cool at the expense of others – Specifically, don’t join in on ridiculing others so you can be liked. I know this one sounds pretty obvious but I have actually seen it happen. For example, a child brought an egg sandwich to class that had a foul odor to it. As the other kids ridiculed that child, the teacher joined in and made the situation even worse. Remember your role – You are the teacher and not there simply to be liked. You’re there to role-model appropriate behavior.

    10)  Trying to cover too much ground – Often teachers have to follow a curriculum and are so concerned about covering the material and lessons for that day that they lose sight of who’s actually “getting it” in the class. Try to gauge what your students are grasping and teach so kids can learn, not simply so you can check things off of your list.

    My focus here is on teachers, but the above rings true for most people who are in a position of authority or are instructing others, which pretty much includes every one of us. You might not even realize the power you have to influence others. You can make others want to emulate you or make them want to get as far from you as possible. It all depends upon how you carry yourself and how you treat others. Children, especially, might not always be paying attention to what you say but are definitely always learning from what you do!