What Type of Teacher are You?

types of teacher

Why do people get into teaching? Although it is an honorable job, in most places the pay doesn’t reflect that. The summers are great, but the ten months spent negotiating with adolescents day in and day out make July and August seem more like mandatory mental health leave than an actual vacation. Although most schools start somewhere around 8:30 a.m. and end sometime around 3:20 p.m., the countless “overtime” hours teachers put in often go unnoticed by the public. Teachers (in most cases) are not paid to coach, run clubs and individually tutor struggling students after school. They do it out of their passion. Although society has evolved to want to document and account for everything, which in the case of education means test the shit out of students, teachers still take the time to come up with unique methods, strategies, and lessons so their students feel like they are actually humans and not just robots with flesh and a student number. These people who decide to become teachers are unique, taking on one of the most important but undervalued jobs in society. Philosophically then, it would then seem like all teachers are the “same” – the same type of person. But those behind the desk and in the staffrooms really know that there are a few different types of teachers:


The “Always Wanted to be a Teacher” teacher

I am not certified to give any type of psychological analysis as to why there are so many of these people walking around, but many teachers fall into this category. This is the teacher who knew they wanted to be a teacher when they were in 2nd grade. Back then, their teacher gave them a little sticker of an apple on the top of an assignment, told them they were smart and asked if they wanted to help sort the duotangs. These are the teachers who always sat in the front row when they were children, participated in class as much as possible and typically got straight A’s. Now as teachers, they expect nothing less of the children in their class. Unfortunately, the reality of anything other than a middle-class stable upbringing is strange wilderness to them. Status quo rules in this type of teacher’s classroom – spelling tests and diligent record keeping ensure that students are definitely learning something. This teacher cares about their students but maintains a mentality that students have to do it the teacher’s way because that’s the way school has always been done. These teachers are organized, committed and love teaching. But they will probably be the last to try new initiatives. They are often beyond understanding why some students in their classroom just don’t care.

This is the safest type of teacher for your child…Wait a minute, let me rethink that.


The “Can’t Wait for Winter/Spring/Summer Break” teacher

Now, most of the public probably assumes that 99% of teachers get into teaching for the summer break and thus 99% of teachers are like this. However, I would say that these are the least likely teachers you will find. Reason: if you come into teaching with this mentality, the job will eat you up and gobble you faster than brunch. A person simply cannot sustain this mentality year after year – for 30 years! But there are a few that stick around and whether or not they are just performing this persona around colleagues to lighten up the school day or really believe it. These are the ones you probably don’t want to either learn from as a teacher or send your child off to in the morning.

When Tuesday rolls around, they can’t wait for Friday. They are constantly waiting on the Thanksgiving Break, and a few days after they return from that, they are counting down the days until the Winder Holidays. They chiefly blame their apathy on their students without realizing that ironically it is their apathetic attitude towards school that is creating that within their students. This vicious cycle usually leaves these teachers bitter and cynical. You’d think a break would refresh them – but nope.


The “When I First Started…” teacher

There may be two sides to this coin. But I am elaborating on the teacher that is always talking about how things used to be so much better back in the day. With this, they not only develop a cynical tone around teachers and students, but they become jaded – jaded to everything about education. The curriculum was better when they first started, the students were smarter when they first started, the staff was more “professional” when they first started. The list goes on and on. The damn drinking water from the tap was colder back in the day according to them!

Like I said earlier, I am no psychologist, but I can assure you no teacher starts out immediately like this. Teachers are human and sometimes life experiences, whether it is inside or outside of the school, affect how we do our job. These teachers have a wealth of knowledge because they have seen it all. They, to a certain extent, understand the inner workings of school from a more managerial perspective – largely because they have seen so many principals and initiatives come and go. These teachers, with a greater sense of what education and teaching is all about after having seeing the cycle that is education, have the ability to impart invaluable wisdom and guidance on students and teachers. Unfortunately, the “when I first started” teachers usually spend more time complaining about how things are so bad instead of focusing on what they could do to make their classroom and students better.


These three are mainstays in every school. But hang on, because there are a few more…


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Matthew R. Morris

Educator, Speaker, Writer

Matthew R. Morris is a writer, speaker, and elementary educator in Toronto. He has an M.A. in Social Justice Education from OISE at the University of Toronto and is the author of the forthcoming book, Black Boys Like Me. 

Matthew R. Morris

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