Volume:7, Issue: 3

Dec. 15, 2015

Teacher’s social education activities and pedagogical behavior as essential forms of professional activities
Lizinsky, Vladimir M. [about]

KEYWORDS: modes and types of pedagogical intervention, an image of a teacher, typology of teachers’ behavior.

ABSTRACT: The author reflects on eternal topics of the teacher’s profession which does not allow any trivia and where every tiny detail of teacher’s clothes or/and behavior might leave a deep impact on students’ characters and lives. As always, with humor, irony, and wisdom Lizinsky presents his classification of teachers’ behaviors, emphasizing pros and cons of each type.


Introduction

External forms of pedagogical intervention, as well as verbal and non-verbal ways of influence, may and occasionally have a positive, negative or no influence on children.

Clothes and accessories, haircut, manner of walking, posture, glances, head inclination, length of pauses, specific looks at children, smiles, expression of anger, handwriting and signature, grade color and shape, exhausted indifference, personal adornments, favorite expressions and quotes – we may still continue the list of things which make an inconspicuous influence on children by attracting or pushing them away and, at times, greatly affecting their behavior, attitudes, views, and their future.

Throughout their entire professional career some teachers are unable or unwilling to get rid of some clownery, cheap focus tricks, mockery or toadyism used with the sole purpose to be liked by children. However, all these are external forms of influence, which may keep the attention of immature souls for a short time, but they will most probably fail to attract intellectually developed and thoughtful teenagers.

Even before the teacher starts the class or applies various teaching strategies and techniques, his or her personality in the whole range of its dimensions may be appealing or equally repulsive to children. Great philosophers and educators used to say that a teacher must be young and beautiful. Of course, they naturally meant the teacher’s state of mind and psyche.

The range of such behaviors includes the following options:

Marginal behavior

The teacher is brightly and provocatively dressed, the hair is dyed in blue, fiery copper, red or black-and-green color, wearing black or multicolored stockings; artificially extended nails are aggressively long; the beastly voice is shouting, moaning or blaming; eyes express malice or anger; the stroll is heavy. Such teachers often experience difficulty in finding words; bad grades are large in size and in bold red ink; communication with children is reduced to orders and demands.

Such teachers are so far from cultural life or present-day problems, moral search or suffering, so very sick and tired of everyday routine toil, that they are extremely wearied and present such utterly repulsive personalities, that this kills any desire in children to consider a career in education. It is not necessary to have all the above ingredients to make such a parody of a teacher; but even some of them are enough to completely and permanently destroy children’s love to the teacher and learning in general.

Classical behavior

The teacher looks at the world with a wise, omniscient, all-understanding and all-forgiving expression. Her/his arrival disciplines and energizes children. S/he carries her/himself in a proud and confident stroll, with the head held high. The smile has a touch of mystery, inviting children into the world of new knowledge and even discoveries. Verses are read in an emotional and elevated manner, with irresistible tears in the eyes when reciting the most lyrical lines.

S/he is usually wearing only long-sleeved shirts/blouses, with jabot hems or buttons; a dark silver chain brooch adorns her dark or grey turtleneck sweater, worn just like in Maria Ermolova’s well-known portrait3; a formal jacket completes the ensemble.

S/he enjoys listening to children confiding to each other in an intimate whisper; s/he is always ready to help, never hesitates to take time and visit her/his sick student, and loves folk and patriotic songs. The voice a rich and powerful, the speech is correct and well educated; s/he hates vulgar and low-class humor, but her/his own witty remarks are genuine and accompanied with a clear tinkle of laughter. S/he may see and admit her/his own errors, and sometimes cries – either because of fatigue or emotions.

Her/his inner world is open to children and adults; s/he is open and frank to a certain limit, and behind it there is some inviting secret. S/he loves receive flowers and kind words of praise because s/he is also generous in her praise of others.

Her/his eyes are clear, shining, and friendly. She/he has compassion, and her/his feelings and affections are deep and permanent.

If loves comes to her, she will give herself to it wholeheartedly, but she has enough self-respect and decency not to impose her love on anybody. Reading and music are her imperishable wonders, which are constantly elevating her soul and making her share her feelings with somebody. She does everything thoroughly, honestly, and responsibly. She has always been more or less diligent in preparing for her classes; she feels happy if the class was successful, and it is rewarding for her to see her students’ achievements.

Modern behavior

This teacher is energetic, determined and looking forward to becoming the school principal. He is constantly using his smart phone or tablet PC (either playing or calculating). He loves electronic gadgets for fun and not for work. He wears printed T-shirts and colored sneakers, has a sense of humor, offers primitive and cynical answers to any question, enjoys being a staging director, does not take grading seriously, loves posing and quoting, eats fast, resorts to formal communication with colleagues, flirts and likes to look at himself as if from aside; he has good memory, is grudge bearing, is unlikely to take extra steps towards perfection but is great in conductive impressive open classes or other activities.

Run-of-the-mill behavior

One may think that there is nothing to say in this case. Outworn or second-hand clothes, non-expressive speech, no steady habits, low voice; introduces the new material by merely reading out the textbook (almost in a whisper).

In class, s/he sits half-turned to the blackboard, does not listen to the students, offers no comments or corrections; before writing down a student’s grade (which is “4”4, as a rule), takes a long time hesitating and holding the pen in the air. S/he neither criticizes nor praises her/his students, avoids any field trips, does not come close with a student, does not invite students’ parents to school, protects her/his own knowledge-free or emotion-free peace of mind, does not launch rumors, does not participate in gossiping because s/he doesn’t feel like it; s/he eats listlessly; what s/he does or says is of no interest.

Having to speak at the staff meeting, s/he will tire everybody with dull and pseudo-scientific nonsense, so it will be very long before s/he is given the floor again. S/he looks through rather than at the person; s/he won’t laugh, and her/his smile resembles the expression of someone who has just eaten a whole lemon.

S/he knows very little, s/he is absolutely void of curiosity, and new knowledge never excites her/him.

Romantic behavior

When such a teacher enters the class, s/he brings in sunshine even on a dull day; students’ faces immediately brighten up; the lesson turns miraculously into a fairytale when children are constantly expecting new wonders done by their favorite teacher who is always full of joy and surprises: the teacher might treat everyone to some jam, or show them dances of Zaporozhe Cossacks, or recite a poem in such a way that girls start laughing and boys - thinking about love. Or everybody will get excellent grades, so all the students will go home happy. This teacher will whisper something to a poor student, and the student would improve his/her grades. This teacher may bring everyone a flower from home or a gorgeous verse, which does not carry the author’s name.

Sometimes children think that their favorite teacher has wings, and her light blouses and simple ornaments impress boys more than diamonds, and even frivolous girls, when attending her classes, wipe off their awkward makeup, hide their cheap jewelry (purchased in tobacco kiosks), earn for her attention and try to imitate her in appearance.

Her voice is melodious and fresh, her speech is like a silver streamlet splashing over rocks. All her behavior seems to prove the point that top professionalism is in doing everything with ease rather than endless beetle-browed fatigue. Her steps are light, her gestures are quick and smooth; her imperceptible smile, hint or slight head movement are enough to express her assent, support or respect to the interlocutor.

Extravagant behavior

This behavior is very appealing to children in the beginning and is as much ridiculed by them later. This teacher has no limits in joking, may spend the entire class speaking about “the fare banana-lemon Singapore”, sing a song in French with a bad nasal accent either about Paris or Odessa. She is provocatively dressed, wearing a miniskirt, her low-cut dress is insulting for the school and entertaining teenage girls who understand what genuine beauty is; some kind of wheels or other huge geometric shapes in her ears; her speech abounds with a typical pseudo-glamorous litter, and her sister is Ellochka the Cannibal5, and, just like Ellochka, she easily traps her hardworking engineer Shukin, who pays for all her whims while she endures him (without love or respect) until another ship moors to her coast. She is light on her feet and is always dashing to buy another flashy piece of attire, which just proves her natural craving for mad exaltation. Her mood fluctuates just like weather in the mountains; it is impossible to guess what she will do with her children in a minute; she is not malicious in her indifference to children and also due to the fact that she does not even remember who is who, so she tries not to call students by their names for she is sure to make mistakes.

All her extravagance and weird acts are directed not towards other people but towards herself; she tries to indulge her vanity and embellishes her useless life with various bright flags of her ridiculous actions. She is quick in her movements or attitudes; she lacks empathy or kindness but she may give away a cookie or an orange which were once put into her bag by her loving husband and now happily forgotten there. She would have been a valuable asset in our show business, but she is voiceless and tone-deaf, and her stage movements are too Bilan-like frivolously random6; her culture is limited to the first pages of fashionable harlequin novels and detective stories. She is never ready for her classes, but there may be occasional strokes of genius, which usually result in surprises and excited gossip among children while during classes open for observation, the school administration is baffled by her non-volatile memory tricks and impromptu variety of colors, fast rhythms, and activities.

The Teacher of the Sanguine Countenance

And, finally, the teacher of the sanguine countenance, or optimistic outlook, good-natured behavior, bright inner emotional experience, values and views.

It is typical of such teachers to crave for preaching and missionary work, an ardent desire to convert the whole world into his/her faith, to share joy and emotional excitement with others. As a result, such teachers are active school drama directors or poets, they dance at school parties and create a positive atmosphere; when they are close, it is hard to be serious or, what is more, useless or good-for-nothing; they cherish their students’ success and, if their student has become even a tiny bit better, kinder or brighter, their eyes are filled with tears of happiness, and their faces reflect a whole symphony of thrill and delight. They love their own and other children, they enjoy hiking and bard’s songs.

They turn their classes into amazing events, even if the latter do not stay long in memory. And, of course, they share their confidence, enthusiasm and inner beauty with others.

They teach the way it is done by Mother Nature; they may be quick and impulsive or suddenly thoughtful and melancholic, but they never get their own back on children; their ultimate meaning of life is an open book of joys, which is available for each child with his or her sorrows and doubts; they also see their life mission in serving others, being ready to do their best in order to help and provide joy to others. Their speech is rich and diverse, their adornments are elegant and appropriate, and their actions are kind and good.

Conclusion

Let us summarize. As you see, this paper has said nothing of subject matter of any class and teaching techniques, it is about the personality of the teacher, his/her individual appeal or drawbacks, and it is about something that creates a mystery of the teaching profession with its great influence on children’s present and future.


  1. This publication was supported by the grant from the Russian Humanitarian Science Foundation, Project # 15-06-10455а.
  2. Vladimir M. Lizinsky [In Russian: Владимир Михайлович Лизинский], Ph.D., Professor, Department of Education and Psychology, Academy of In-Service Training and Continuous Education of the Educational Workers; Editor-in-Chief, Center Pedagogical Search, Moscow, Russia.
  3. The author means a portrait of a famous Russian drama actress Maria Ermolova by Valentin Serov (1905).
  4. Russian schools use the following grades: “5” – excellent; “4” – good”; “3” – satisfactory; “2” – unsatisfactory; “1” – very poor.
  5. The author refers to the  vulgar  and  greedy  wife  of  a hardworking  engineer from Ilf and Petrov’s The Twelve Chairs; this young woman’s vocabulary included only 30 words which she managed easily and fluently in any real life situations (The translator’s note).
  6. Dima Bilan is a Russian singer and winner of the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest (The translator’s note).

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