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Rethinking education: common misconceptions about teachers

Our new blog series, ‘rethinking education’, explores common misconceptions about learning and new ways that international teachers can imagine their classrooms while teaching overseas in order to make the most enriching educational experience for students.

When it comes to teachers and teaching, everyone has an opinion – what makes a good teacher, what makes a bad teacher, how to teach – the list goes on. Read below as we explore some of the biggest misconceptions we’ve heard and why they’re misconceptions.

Teachers teach because they can’t do

How often have you heard the statement, “those who can’t do, teach?” This one is easy to debunk because teachers do so much that it’s hard to believe this statement ever came to be.

On top of the deep knowledge teachers need of their subject matter in order to excite and engage their students day-to-day, teachers spend a lot of time developing a number of skills, classroom management methods, and pedagogical approaches in order to foster their students’ growth and progress.

Teachers are no different than other careers in that they need a certain set of competencies to succeed.

Teachers have it easy

It’s easy to see why this misconception has surfaced: because bubbling under the surface of this one are several other misconceptions! Many think that teachers finish their workday at 3 pm and have their summers off. This just isn’t true.

Teachers actually have one of the most emotionally intensive jobs out there, because they engage in the lives of 20+ students every day. They worry about their academic achievement, their home lives, their friends and social lives, and their self esteem.

Aside from all that they invest in their students emotionally, teachers also dedicate a lot of time to their craft. The 8 am – 3 pm schedule is a myth, and teachers often have to participate in school-wide activities like curriculum development, personal learning in order to prep for lesson plans, marking and grading, parent-teacher engagement and interaction, and after school activities.

Good teachers mean good grades

Sometimes parents and outsiders mistakenly believe that teachers are the only ones responsible for a students’ learning process. This is another misconception that needs to be be debunked. Teachers are one important part of the equation, but certainly not the be all, end all.

Students’ parents are also an integral part of a students’ learning process, and should encourage their children to engage in and be curious about different subject matter. Students themselves are also one of the biggest parts of the equation — if a student comes unprepared to engage in the classroom material, the teacher has held up their end of the contract but the student remains closed off to learning.

There are ways that you as a teacher can try to break down a student’s walls if they appear uninterested in your lesson plans. Firstly, try to speak one on one with this student to learn where their interests lie and how you can interest them in classroom material. Secondly, give your students the opportunities to share with you what’s important to them by developing interactive lesson plans. This is especially important in international classrooms where your students may come from different backgrounds and might have varied experiences.

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