Saturday, June 19, 2010

Teacher Complacency

I could still remember those days when I was still in a teacher-training institution preparing myself for my future teaching endeavors. When I was in fourth year and about to graduate, I was exposed to the real teaching atmosphere by having me attend a daily observation and participation session in our college's laboratory high school. I observed and assisted my cooperating teacher's high school Math classes for four months. At the same time, I learned to prepare those teaching materials like lesson plans, teaching reflections, assessment and feedback forms and others. That time, the importance of those materials in assisting the learners' need was clearly introduced to us that's why, as future teachers, we adhered on making the best possible output because we believed that those things were not just mere chores but a huge help to our learners as well. 

When I had my teaching practicum during the second semester, I passionately prepared my lessons and promptly did all those paperworks considering that they were of great importance for the learning of my students. I used to enter my classes carrying loads of visual aids and full of enthusiasm to teach. I have observed that the same attitude could also be observed from other student-teachers. All of us were very enthusiastic to teach and we loved to share our teaching experiences every time we go back to our college. Personally, when I had my off-campus teaching practicum in a government high school 72 kilometers away from the college I was attending, I took bundles of references with me. I had my portfolio, professional articles, notes and a variety of Mathematics book which guided me throughout my near-independent teaching practicum.

With all the enthusiasm I and my fellow student-teachers had during our practicum, a sense of confusion struck my head when I saw how 'experienced teachers' had become in their profession. Most, if not all, of them had become complacent in their respective fields. The enthusiasm that we had, could hardly be seen to these experienced teachers. Unlike the passionate sharing of teaching experiences evident in every student-teacher, professional conversation could hardly be heard in the faculty room where these experienced teachers stay during their free time. These teachers normally have complaints against their students and the tasks which they were mandated to do. It's very sad because those things directly affect the learners. 

Why do teachers tend to become complacent during their service years? What are the factors that demotivate teachers to pursue their passion in teaching? 

Like other professions, teachers need support in order to grow professionally. Everybody needs constant motivation to sustain one's passion. However, we know that teachers are the least paid professionals and most of the times very little support is given by the management of the school to meet the professional needs of the teachers. Professional development trainings are provided but they are not actually given to those teachers who need them. Instead, those who already have the potential and the passion for teaching get the best support from the administration. Aside from that, teachers are not considered as collaborators in the planning stage. Plans are usually done by those who are on the top and teachers are just asked to implement what has been planned. 

For instance, if there are changes which need to be implemented in the classroom, teachers are usually asked to implement the changes without enough information that would help them understand the urgency and the importance of the implementation. Changes in school forms and giving of additional loads to teachers are ordinarily given without considering the impact of such change to the teachers who directly influence the learners. Some of those forms and paperworks are just additional loads for teachers and they do not even contribute to students' learning. Instead of focusing on the support that every teacher could possibly give to the learners, much focus is given on asking teachers to provide unneeded reports and documents and sad to say, these reports are not even read by anyone--they're just kept as a files. Most of the times, it leads to teacher burn-out as teachers would eventually find out that they spend much of their time making those unnecessary reports than finding fulfillment through helping the students out in the learning process.

I hope that administrators would be awakened and would realize how the current surge of the system negatively affects the teachers. Teachers need support and encouragement to reinvent their teaching and be motivated with the help they are providing to the students. I hope everybody would realize such thing before it's too late. One day, we might witness a huge number of dedicated teachers shifting careers for they do not find fulfillment and happiness in what they are doing anymore. After all, it's the desire of every human being to find fulfillment at what he/she is doing and I believe that such fulfillment can only be achieved if we see impact of our efforts. Such impact can be seen in the number of lives we have touched and not in the bundle of irrelevant files we have finished.