I was recently traveling and stopped to eat lunch during my layover in a large airport. I ordered a turkey sandwich on wheat without onions. The server brought me a ham sandwich on white with onions. When I asked if she was sure that it was my order, she stated, “Did you see anyone else ordering a sandwich?” Although I was tempted to leave, I decided not to worry about it and I ate the sandwich. While I was eating, I thought about how the server was very mismatched to her job. It would have probably been better for her to have a job where she did not need to provide customer service. I immediately thought about the number of teachers I have encountered over the years that were a mismatch for the job of nurturing children. In fact, some teachers I have observed gave me the impression that they didn’t even like children. Perhaps they are more suited to a job where they only dealt with adults.
In my Introduction to Teaching course, I ask the future teachers to interview their site teachers about their attitudes toward diverse cultures. Then I ask the candidates to watch during the next ten weeks to see if each site teacher actually practiced their stated philosophy. Many of my students come back to class concerned that their site teachers often did not exhibit the behaviors that they indicated were their belief systems. I would suggest that in many cases, these teachers hide their true personalities behind the mask of teaching. Did they get all the way through their education, find a job, and then discover that they really didn’t want to work with children? Did they go into teaching because it is a noble profession and they thought they wanted to contribute to society? Did they think that now they have a job and it is too late to change.It is sad that it is so difficult to have a ‘do-over.’
How many people are trapped in jobs that they really don’t want and therefore don a mask of being content? As tragic as this may be, it is doubly tragic when it is a teacher. When a teacher doesn’t really like her/his job, the children suffer. Whenever there is a poor teacher in a classroom, the children in that classroom are being cheated. If I were in charge of the world I would want all teachers to remove their masks and allow those who don’t want to teach work somewhere else so they can be productive. I would also make sure that the people who really want to teach and do not need a mask, get paid lots of money! A great teacher in every classroom is what every child deserves.