With high stakes tests always at the forefront of teachers' minds, it is not a surprise when some lose sight of what school IS, or at least, OUGHT to be about. We often get caught up in the mindset of "Don't smile before Christmas" and "School is for learning not fun" modes, and forget one of the fundamental 3 R's of education: rigor, relevance, and RELATIONSHIPS.
Without building a relationship, a positive, strong relationship, with our students, for many of them, the rigor and relevance of our curriculum will be lost. Not only will they shut down, refusing to entertain even the most engaging of lessons, they will likely become our worst nightmares, as far as behavior issues go.
For some teachers, building relationships with students comes easily, naturally. They honestly enjoy the age group they stand in front of each day. Conversations flow naturally, good natured joking is a two-way street, and soon, even the most reluctant learner has braved the educational waters of that teacher's curriculum.
In other classrooms, forced congeniality is the standard. While it is often obvious students and teacher are not always on the same page, a mutual respect and tolerance develops, allowing learning to take place. These teachers may just not be 'natural' born teachers, not having the knack to interact effortlessly with their clientele, but through careful deliberate planning on their part, the gap is successfully, or at least adequately bridged. Students develop a respect for these teachers, and while may never vote them their 'favorite' come to learn how to be successful behaviorally and academically.
Sadly, in a few classrooms, it is obvious the teacher has no interest in the students, personally or beyond that test score. Their interactions are limited and forced, leaving a hgue divide. Students are disruptive, afraid, intimidated, or simply unable to learn in this environment. These are the classrooms, the teachers, that make me wonder if anyone CAN be a teacher, or are some of the traits inherent that allow for successful teaching. Can we create an effective teacher from one without those natural tendencies? Can those individuals be taught the interact with their students in manner that allow them to be successful? I don't know the answer....