Sometimes teachers don’t know the answer, most of the time they won’t admit it.
Nobody knows everything. But as a teacher, you are the holder of all knowledge in the classroom and trust is put into that. Students, parents, and administration trust a teacher knows what they are teaching. Sometimes though, a teacher takes that trust for granted and when they don’t know the answer, it’s hard to admit it.
A great teacher will prepare and understand the material on such a deep level they are able to explain it to anyone. Not everyone can be great though. A good teacher will try their best, they know the material and will explain it in multiple ways, hoping one way is the key to having students get it. A decent teacher is one who might only understand in the way they have understood it or learned it, so when they explain it, not every student might get what they’re saying. A bad teacher is one that’s faking it and just trying to get through the lesson.
I was surprised at how many of own my students told me their teachers were bad at explaining things. It makes me believe their teachers are faking it or are at least decent. Some of the approaches the students were sharing with me reveal an okay depth of understanding.
Faking it can be an invisible catastrophe. The student trusts the teacher but the teacher is faking it and thus the student doesn’t understand. The confusion from the stuent turns into frustration and eventually the belief that they are bad, when in reality, it was the teacher who wasn’t good in the first place. The student doesn’t realize this, parents trust the teachers are good, and administration rarely hears negative criticism, and so everyone assumes it’s the students inability or laziness.
Bad teachers fake it because they are worried that someone will find out and they will have to work harder to improve (something they require from their own students…) or even worse, lose their job. They should find a new occupation, they’re being selfish and teaching is not the occupation to be selfish. Sadly, bad teachers will find new teaching jobs. They will float from school to school doing damage to students’ education wherever they go and they get away with it. And by the time administration has enough information to do something about it, several years have passed and plenty of lives have been affected. The only people witnessing on a daily basis the teacher’s terrible skills are the students, who either don’t know better or don’t have the voice or power to change it. At least there’s ratemyteacher.com.
Not all teachers fake it. The best teachers will admit when they don’t know something and tell a student they will get back to them. This humility is crucial in the hidden curriculum. It shows students that not everyone has the answer. Even a teacher is a student sometimes and there’s always something new to learn.