As you walk down the hallway, you’ll notice some classroom doors are open and some are closed. You pass one of the open doors that you had contemplated entering, but the teacher, Ms. Swagger, caught a glimpse of you and she is ecstatic that you caught her doing this cool project with her students. She reels you into the classroom. As you get pulled inside, she proceeds with a play-by-play of the day: rundown of standards taught, all of the activities she had the students complete, the amazing project, and how good Johnny was doing today. As you disembark Ms. Swagger’s room, you are astonished that you didn’t leave with an autographed photo of Ms. Swagger in hand.
The next door you approach, Mr. Leery’s classroom, is sealed shut. There is a window in the door, but it is covered up by crinkled blue butcher paper. You fumble with your keys trying to get the door unlocked, wondering if the jangling of keys is giving some warning detection to Mr. Leery. You enter the classroom and Mr. Leery gives you a puzzled look, perplexed you were able to successfully pass the retinal scan. The students are quietly working and Mr. Leery continues to walk around, hoovering over the students, and shooting side glances at you, wondering when you’re going to leave his domain. As you depart, Mr. Leery gives you a quick wave goodbye, relieved that you didn’t stay too long or didn’t jot down any notes while in his classroom.
Ms. Swagger and Mr. Leery represent opposing sides of a continuum. In reality, most of us would fall somewhere in between the two, displaying similar characteristics of both teachers at some point in time in our teaching journey. Although their personality styles (and teaching styles) are quite different, they are kindred in the path to entering the teaching field. All teachers must pass competency tests and some array of pre-service activities before landing their first teaching job. But what got them their teaching job won’t do any good once they have their own domain and classroom. Next comes the art of teaching, indulging in the passion and zeal for students and learning.
There is no doubt that Ms. Swagger and Mr. Leery are very talented. But our world needs teachers who will tap into their remarkable selves and avow their need to continuously learn and be coached. Great instructional coaches can be great resources for teachers, as they can provide a new perspective, and view their classroom through an anomalous lens. Unfortunately, Ms. Swagger thinks she is too sparkly and amazing to listen to a coach, and Mr. Leery feels like the coach would infringe on his domain, after all he has produced great test results. These teachers have more desire to continue down the path of status quo than be coached by a master teacher and coach.
The world needs teachers to allow their passion for students to propel them to teach in ways they’ve never taught and ways the students have never seen. We need teachers to embrace coaching and mentoring thereby leveraging the collective wisdom inside of their learning network. Our students need Ms. Swagger and Mr. Leery to be remarkable, and to be committed to their students and their craft. As our students walk down the hallway, they’ll find doors that are closed and doors that are open. Doors that have retinal scans and doors that have levitating forces that draw them in. Regardless of teacher personalities, our students must find something amazing and remarkable inside that classroom. That’s what they need.