Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Nine Teachers You Meet at School

My son and I share a common bond in our love of Legos. Yesterday I snapped this picture of a sort of bizarro "Super Friends" team assembled from our collection:

Quite a team, right?

This morning, I started thinking (and laughing) about this picture again, and my thoughts turned toward teaching. This crazy picture reminded me of the many different approaches teachers take to their teaching practice. So, if you'll indulge me, here are the nine teachers you meet at school:

The teacher who knows his/her stuff, but isn't afraid to wade into the action. Thoroughly understands the details of arcane subjects, good in a scrape, ready for anything.
The Wizard
The veteran teacher who has been there and done that and is able to "make the magic happen" in his/her classroom. Perhaps the lecturer who can truly be called a "magister," perhaps the seasoned educator able to mysteriously conjure up new ideas seemingly at will.
The Mummy
This long-time teacher is past his/her prime and is unwilling (or unable) to change. You can almost smell the air of neglect and decay when you walk into the crypt...er...classroom. Suggest change? You're welcoming the Mummy's curse!
Captain Jack
You know that teacher who is so unconventional and marches to the beat of his/her own drummer...yet somehow gets unbelievable results? Yep.
Quiet strength personified. Could rip your arms off, but usually takes the teddy bear approach. Might look cuddly, but if you threaten his/her students, watch out! 
Mr. Crazy-Guns
The wildcard, the loose cannon. The one who does his/her own thing without seeming to care about consequences. Belligerent. Defensive. Combative. Colleagues are afraid. Timid administrators are afraid. Students are afraid.
The Gorilla
The teacher who goes bananas about small things. Easy to get distracted. The kids love his/her class (it's a zoo!), but are they learning...or just monkeying around?
The deep thinker who is is cynical about the current state of affairs in education. Contemplates change, and has the teeth and claws to tear into the existing structures. Other teachers may fear him/her, but also might cheer for the changes that happen as a result of his/her actions.
The newbie. The fresh-faced, just-getting-started, doesn't-know-what-he/she-doesn't-know teacher. Full of enthusiasm, idealistic, ready to change the world. (We hope they never lose that zest, even as they become more realistic about the demands of the profession!)

What do you think? Does this capture the teachers you know? If you are an educator, can you find yourself here, for good or ill?


  1. Dave, this is funny! I'd like to think I'm a cross between Indy and Captain Jack. However, I have to be honest--I have The Gorilla in me too. Working on eliminating that guy!

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for the feedback, Denise! Glad you enjoyed the piece. :-) I know I've been both the Gorilla and Philosoraptor at different points in my career. I like to think I'm currently more of a Captain Jack...

  2. This is funny, Dave! I think every school has these characters! Would be a fun conversation in a team or department meeting!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Jennifer! Yep, I agree. I think every school I've attended or taught in has had these characters. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, of course. I think it would be good for us to do a little self-analysis... :-)

  3. I love the multilevel interplay between media (the hero's journey), perceptions of teacher archtypes and our self-images as teachers.

    I wonder what happened if we gave students a bunch of Lego figures and asked them to identify with one of them... and if the answer would be different in the end of the schoolyear...?


    1. That would be an interesting experiment, Nina!

  4. Patricia Drake @ patcydrakeJuly 27, 2015 at 7:39 AM

    Enjoyed this post as well as the Students You Meet. Thanks to you and your son for such an fun way to share some important reflection. You prove that learning and sharing can be fun.

    1. Thanks for the feedback! I think I have another post in me about different kinds of administrators...and we might have to illustrate them with Lego figures too. :-)

    2. Patricia Drake @ patcydrakeJuly 27, 2015 at 8:26 AM

      Sounds great. Looking forward to reading and sharing that one too.