ERIC Number: EJ837935
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Reference Count: 0
Are They Really "Your" Teachers?
Principal, v88 n4 p58-59 Mar-Apr 2009
In this article, the author clarifies why his use of the term "my teachers" in a lunch meeting--a term that is open to interpretation and one that principals should use with great care--had given him a nagging feeling. When a student says "my teacher," there is a clear meaning. The student is literally referring to his or her teacher, usually with respect. However, his use of the term "my teachers" was inappropriate because he used this term in a way that he believes many and perhaps most teachers find disparaging. Recognizing teachers as professionals and as equals in terms of their teaching knowledge will contribute more to improved instruction than expressions of power denoted by the pronoun "my." However, there is one powerful context for the use of the term "my teacher" by a principal. There are times when a principal learns from a teacher, or from teachers, in the school. In this context, it is absolutely appropriate for the principal to refer to this person as "my teacher." In fact, even experienced principals can recall numerous times when a teacher or teachers prevented them from the consequences of a wrong decision, or helped prevent an error. Often, these teachers took the risks of being the bearer of bad news for the betterment of the students, the school, and the principal. If the principal can acknowledge learning from such a teacher or teachers, then the school becomes a space where it is safe to seek help and risk making mistakes so that learning can occur. If the principal is a learner, then learning can be a popular and favored activity. Such an acknowledgement honors the meaning of the term "my teacher" as someone who teaches, guides, and facilitates learning. This goes right to the core of schooling's purpose. The term "teacher" is one that represents some of the best human qualities: helping others know more and do better. It should never be used in reference to power. It should only be used as a term of respect.
Descriptors: Principals, Teacher Administrator Relationship, Administrator Attitudes, Context Effect, Power Structure, Vertical Organization, Interprofessional Relationship, Collegiality, Form Classes (Languages)
National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). 1615 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Tel: 800-386-2377; Tel: 703-684-3345; Fax: 800-396-2377; e-mail: email@example.com; Web site: http://www.naesp.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A