Monday, May 25, 2009

Teacher Types

It's been a while since I've done an informational, not an anecdotal, post, so here it goes. I'm sure you know that there are different categories of workers in any job. From Mr. "Knock off 10 minutes early everyday" to Mrs. "That's not how we do things here", each person brings their own brand of.....character to the workplace. Here are the most common teacher collaborating personalities:

"The Uniter"- As the name describes, The Uniter will try to get everyone to reach consensus. Cajoling, compromising, sometimes even begging and pleading, The Uniter will do whatever it takes to get everyone on board They may actually succeed from time to time. The problem is, sometimes the ideas The Uniter pushes are, well, unreasonable. Our Uniter tried to get everyone to agree that we would all get parent signatures on all study guides for every chapter in our book. We go through a chapter a week. That's a lot of freaking signatures, not to mention the time and effort required to track down who didn't get a signature and call mom or dad to remind them to sign the study guides. Occasionally, The Uniter will drift to the dark side, outright lying by saying, "Liz thought it was a great idea" when Liz merely mumbled noncommittally to get The Uniter to go away. Once the rest of the staff agrees to The Uniter's plan (because they thought Liz wanted to do it), The Uniter will return to Liz and use the group's agreement to pressure Liz. Luckily, getting teachers to agree to anything is like herding cats, so The Uniter often doesn't have much to work with.

Mr. "That's not in my contract"- Every staff needs one of these, but only one. Mr. TNIMC can be a benefit or a detriment depending on the situation. For example: the principal has a great idea. Every other week, we'll have a field day on Friday and all the kids can play sports on the field after school. Who's going to supervise this? Why, the teachers, of course! At this point, Mr. TNIMC stands up and asks how much he's going to be paid for giving up two hours of his time on a Friday. The principal looks surprised: "Paid? We don't have money in the budget for this, I just kind of thought you'd do it for the enrichment of the kids". Mr. TNIMC snorts, says "That's not in my contract", and poof! The idea is killed. Mind you, Mr. TNIMC can be a real pain in the ass when you have a problem that you're trying to fix. For example: you have a student who owes you detention but you have a special education meeting you have to be at. Don't ask Mr. TNIMC to watch your student in exchange for doing the same for him later. Mr. TNIMC doesn't give detentions, because that would extend his workday past the contractual time. Incidentally, Mr. TNIMC gets to school at the contracted time and leaves at the contracted time, not staying a minute extra. I don't know how the bastard does it.

The Restater- Restaters restate what you just said, until it's enough to drive you batty. They use such phrases as, "so what I'm hearing you say is..." or "In other words, it sounds like you want to (fill in the blank here), am I right?" Restaters are at their worst after having gone to teacher training courses about building consensus or increasing communication amongst your staff. During these courses, The Restater's position is validated as essential for reaching all members of a team. After such trainings, Restaters are often compelled to restate each opinion as it's given, slowing any meeting to a shambling crawl.

Mrs. Anecdote. As you can probably guess, I have to control my Mrs. Anecdote gene. Mrs. Anecdote likes to derail boring meetings by spicing things up with a funny kid story or whatever random thought flitted through her head. Mrs. Anecdote is fine as a distraction, but often sends staff members off on a tangent that will drive The Uniter crazy. This type of person can make a 15 minute meeting go longer than a cricket game. If you're busy, don't let Mrs. A get started: she won't shut up.

The Domiator- You know this person, no matter where you work. The Alpha Personality. The Bulldog. This person will inevitably take over a meeting to air their own personal needs. And you're not getting your meeting back until they get their way. Whether it's dress code, lunch room behavior, or who's using too much paper, The Dominator will make sure you're on top of it (even if you don't care that Sarah's bra-straps were peeking out from under her tank top). Not even Mrs. Anecdote can turn a conversation for long with this type of personality holding the reins.

Mrs. Fucking Sunshine- this is the person who got into teaching because she just loooooooves kids. Mrs. Fucking Sunshine inevitably is up at 4 in the morning for her daily jog before eating a healthy breakfast and getting to work an hour early to tutor underprivileged children in math because she's a morning person. Incidentally, only morning people like other morning people. Mrs. F S always has all her papers graded and her desk organized. Her files are organized, color coded based on ability levels with a secondary index based on test scores. She acts surprised that you haven't taught your students triangles yet: she finished Chapter 7 weeks ago. In fact, her kids are working on an interactive project where they are making scale models of their bedrooms to reinforce their learning on proportions while you catch up. How nice.

I'll add more as they come to me.

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