Whether you’re a novice or an experienced teacher, everyone knows that an ineffective fellow teacher can make teaching at your school unbearable. The actions of other staff members may lead you to search the help wanted ads every summer. They can also cause you to spend more time worrying about things that have very little to do with the instruction of your students, which should be the main reason you arrive at your school each morning.
Don’t be Afraid
Overcoming issues such as ineffective teachers in your school can sometimes be daunting because you might be afraid to make waves or cause problems for a peer. In some cases, complaints can lead to job loss, demotion, or a not-so-fun or enjoyable school year for you. However, this must not stop you from doing the right thing.
Remember the Kids
It is important to remember that every student attending your school must have the same learning opportunities and effective instruction that you offer your students each day. Whether you are a self-contained teacher with the same students all day or a subject teacher responsible for a hundred or more students throughout the day, you cannot turn a blind eye to an ineffective teacher who fails to instruct and care about his or her students.
Every school includes one or more teachers who arrive each day simply to collect a paycheck, do the bare minimum for students, and do not truly care about the young people in their classrooms. Unfortunately, they sometimes last for years because their peers remain quiet, the principal is incompetent, and parents simply write it off as a “bad teacher” their child must overcome.
However, there are a few things you could do. First, if your principal is incompetent and does not care (which is less of a problem for students sometimes than an ineffective teacher), then turn to another teacher who cares about students as much as you do. In fact, you could approach several teachers who care and bring them together for a meeting to discuss the ineffectiveness of the teacher in question. Do not tell in advance the topic of this planned meeting. Otherwise, some of the teachers you approach will shy away from it and not want to get involved.
Once you have a few other teachers who have agreed to a meeting, you and one other teacher should then broach the topic of the ineffective teacher. The other teachers will likely agree with you and share the same opinion related to the teacher in question. At this time, discuss a few strategies that the group of you can use to help this teacher. Next, begin by asking the teacher to meet with two or three of you at a convenient time based on his or her schedule and convenience, simply letting them know that you would like to discuss a school issue.
Once the teacher arrives at the meeting and sees other teachers, they will likely see it as a group of teachers meeting together to discuss a school-related issue. Immediately, you or another teacher must have the courage to respectfully confront the teacher and tell him or her the true reason for the meeting. Start off by asking the teacher if there is a reason for their uncaring attitude towards their students and add that you and others have noticed this attitude for the past several years. It is possible the teacher may not realize how ineffective and uncaring they have become to their students.
Of course, the teacher could immediately share a few choice words and the meeting may abruptly end, but it is important that you do not give up for the sake of the students and the school as a whole.
Don’t Ignore the Problem
Once again, every student attending your school must have the same learning opportunities and effective instruction that you likely offer your students each day. You may believe you are only responsible for the 25 or so students in your classroom, but to ignore an ineffective teacher only adds to the problem. Your indifference is no better than the ineffective teacher’s attitude towards his or her students.
The ineffective teacher will likely want to become a better teacher or return to the effective teacher he or she may have once been five, ten, or more years ago. Most teachers who attend college and decide on a teaching career do so because they care about kids and want to help them learn. It was likely no different for the now problematic teacher. However, there is a reason that may have led that teacher to begin to no longer care.
Listen and Help
If the teacher stays for the meeting, the discussion must now focus on the reason the teacher has lost interest and has become indifferent. Allow the teacher to tell his or her story, share an incident, or tell what led them to this. Do not judge them — offer to help them once again become an effective teacher. Ask the teacher how the group can help, and the group must be willing to offer their assistance.
Remaining silent when there is an ineffective teacher in your school should not be an option. If the teacher walks out of the meeting and fails to listen to reason, you must either contact the incompetent principal’s supervisor or write a letter to the school board signed by the group of teachers. You could also include information related to the incompetent principal as well.
Every student at your school deserves a quality education and throwing money at a problem is not always the answer. Sometimes simply changing the attitude or effectiveness of a teacher will have a huge impact on students’ learning and the quality of their education. Every teacher in a school is responsible for every student’s education inside that building as much as they possibly can help with it. Speak up respectfully and have the courage to do the right thing for all students and choose to do something about ineffective teachers at your school.