To be a good teacher

Monday, 12 November 2007

To be a good teacher

How To Be A Good Teacher

Good teacher = Happy Teacher

Happy Teacher = Health + Wealth + Satisfaction + Grace

Recently, I caught a segment of BBC's "Happiness Formula" program, and wondered if the same couldn't be applied for the teaching career. (Or any other career).

Most schools are in need of good teachers. The funny part is, the term 'good teacher' means different things to different people. For certain principals, a good teacher is defined as someone who will work 24/7, 12 hours a day.

Slave-driving principal:
Good teacher = work like a slave + exceedingly courteous + win awards/medals + exam distinctions

For students, they are usually blissfully unaware of the politicking and paperwork that happens outside of the classroom. So, I guess for them a good teacher is probably a teacher who can make a positive impact on their lives and/or help them do well in their exams

Good teacher = make a positive impact + good exam results

From a teacher's point of view, you find that many teachers feel that in order to be a good teacher, they need to add up the 'good teacher' formula of the principal and students.

Many teachers' view-point:

Good teacher = work like a slave + exceedingly courteous + win awards/medals + exam distinctions + make a positive impact on students

The number of variables in the formula seems to pile up, and in the end, I wonder if we would end up with an unhappy teacher instead. So, that brings about the next point; is an unhappy teacher a good teacher?


Personally, I feel that a good teacher is a happy teacher. And that brings me to the BBC's happiness formula.

BBC's happiness formula = Pleasure + Engagement + Meaning

Do you agree with their formula?

For myself, Happiness = Health + Wealth + Satisfaction + Family + Grace

Health is the top priority as it is pretty hard to be happy if you are constantly struggling with poor health or chronic disease. So, health = eating healthy + healthy lifestyle

Wealth is next as I find very few people who are poor, and yet at the same time, happy. Many teachers I know are stressed at work because they can be easily threatened with the financial penalty of the 'D'-grade. The same applies for those who fear retrenchment and getting downsized.
While wealth does not equate to happiness, you do need money to pay bills, have fun and eat well. It is hard to really call yourself happy if you are perpetually in debt, or living from hand-to-mouth, worried if your electricity will be cut off the next month.

Satisfaction became part of my list, as I found more and more people not knowing when to call it quits. I added this to my list after an incident with my friend, who is a financial planner. We were watching a mid-night movie at my place, when his boss rang him up regarding work.

I kinda said, "Your boss is a multi-millionaire. and he still needs to call you at 12 mid-night regarding work."

Friend said, "He is really rich. He's got properties in several countries, and he earns well over a million bucks a year."

And I kinda repeated myself, "So, he's got a ton of cash, but still has to work at mid-night."

Friend, "He's financially free. Got out of the rat-race."

"Sounds more to me like he's the biggest rat in the race. If he's out of the rat-race, why the hell is he calling you about work at mid-night?"

If you don't define what is good enough, or if you keep shifting your boundaries for satisfaction, you find that happiness will kinda elude you. Please don't use the "there's new worlds to conquer'.
Simply put, you just aren't satisfied. You have no idea when to call it quits.

So, you want to be the Level-Head? After that, what next? HOD? Then Principal? Then Superintendent? Where does it stop?

If you really need a title to boost your self-esteem, let me confer on you right now.
I hereby confer on you the title "Grand Marshal of the Empire's armies".
Tian(1) Xia(4) Bing(1) Ma(3) Da (4) Yuan (2) Shuai (4).

Do you feel happier with yourself now, O Grand Marshal? Do you need a flag and a official seal of authority too?

Family is pretty important, because most people have this tendency to spend little time with family. It is ironic that we spend so little time with our own kids, who will someday inherit your empire.
Either one of these scenarios is likely to happen if you spend very little time nurturing your kids because you are too busy with work; everything you toiled for will one day be inherited by either an idiot, or by an ass-hole.

Your reasons for being too busy for your kids is completely unimportant, in the light of the seriousness of these scenarios.

Think again.

Grace is a pretty interesting concept that I am still learning each new day. In Christianity, it is called 'Grace'. In Taoism, it is called 'Wu-Wei'. In Islam, they call it 'In'Shallah' (God willing). Different names, slightly different definitions, but basically revolves around similar themes.

This concept basically tells you that there are limits to the great powers of a determined human will-power. Many things are out of human control despite careful planning, and one should learn to accept that this is a major part of life. If you have a habit of trying to fit square pegs into round holes, you will find that you often have to deal with frustrations, disappointments and misunderstanding.

I kinda learnt this lesson with my relationships with my various classes. In the previous year, I kinda invested a lot emotionally into my form class. In the end, my relationship with them was pretty bad. For my other classes, I kinda took things as they came, never really gave too much thought about them. In the end, my relationship with those classes were far, far better.

The same also applied for my other sources of income. Once I did my due diligence, put my money where my mouth was, and left it alone. Those investments did surprisingly well over the past few years, despite my very little monitoring efforts. Ironically, business plans that went sour and lost me money were always those that I tried too hard and too eagerly.


So, here's my formula for a happy teacher again.

Good teacher = Happy Teacher

Happiness = Health + Wealth + Satisfaction + Grace + Family + Grace

This formula is probably not complete. I just kinda wrote the factors which I thought could make or break one's life. You probably could include in other stuff like friends, social life and even doing charitable work, which may rank very high in your own life.

You may have noticed that when I defined a good teacher, I omitted factors like 'good classroom management', 'interesting lessons' and other school-related factors.

Those factors, I feel, usually are a manifestation of your inner-self. If you are really happy, you will have more energy. In turn, that will make your lessons more interesting. People can sense and can be infected by your happiness and enthusiasm.

So, if you want to be a good teacher, try to be a happy teacher first.