How to become the most popular teacher

Douglas P. McManaman
February 2015
Reproduced with Permission

"Personality is the ability to say yes, character is the ability to say no." Ann Landers

Becoming the most popular teacher is simply a matter of personality, not character; it is so easy in fact that it is a wonder that no one has thought of it before. Say 'yes' to your students, always, in every circumstance, till the very end of the semester. Am I going to pass this course? Tell them 'yes'. Can you spare us a demanding CPT (Culminating Performance Task) and a demanding final exam? Yes, indeed I can and I will. Can our tests be true/false, and fill in the blanks with a word bank, no essays? Done! Can I drop every test that I did poorly on? There's no need, because I'll personally see to it that you finish well on every test that I evaluate.

Always enter the classroom in a spirit that is anything but serious; tell jokes, high-five your students every day, and assure them that you are not there to put up any roadblocks. Do not overtax your students with reading, writing, ideas, problems, formulas, or a work-period that is significantly longer than the average attention span - about 7 to 8 minutes. And if you are sick, arrange for a supply teacher who is serious and puts character before all else - the students will love you even more upon your return.

And when it is time to mark their tests, scan them quickly, all the while keeping in mind who they really are - they a persons before they ever became students. Treat them like persons; don't hurt their psyche with red ink, leaving their papers bleeding like a patient on an operating table, freshly butchered by a mad surgeon intent on healing him. Catch them doing something right and consider that alone; give them the mark that is sure to put a smile on their faces. And if they make demands on you, i.e., for your time, extracurricular commitments, etc., don't say no, just lie to them - they will readily believe that you are being pulled in all different directions, popular as you are.

Students will love you, and parents will love you too because their children love you and are excited to go to school every day. In the eyes of parents, you are a miracle worker.

Finally, when your students are old enough to discover that their understanding of history, or mathematics, science or philosophy, etc., is woefully deficient and that everyone else in their university class knows things your students do not and are not sinking as your students are rapidly sinking - and they will certainly be accepted to the university of their choice because the mark they received from you will be high, because that is what they wanted, and you always give them what they want - , do not worry because it will have been three months since they left the school. Thus, you will not have to deal with their indignation or have to offer an explanation. Their love for you will likely not change to hatred anyways because they would have to be able to figure out that their difficult predicament was due to the fact that you did not have the character to say "no", and they simply do not have the ability to reason on such a level; to do so would have required work, which is difficult, and forcing students to work demands much more than personality, and all you had was personality. So you have nothing to fear. It is true that some will be too smart to love you, but be assured that smart people are always in the minority, and you can always turn the majority against the latter by cleverly manipulating their sense of loyalty to you for making life so much easier for them.

Relax, therefore, and enjoy your life as a popular teacher. That's all that matters anyways, that you enjoy your life, and make your classroom the most enjoyable experience that your students will have during the course of the day.

Of course, teachers with personality don't survive long in this country, because there is a legal infrastructure and legal obligations to fulfill. When enough students eventually discover they've been seriously disadvantaged as a direct result of having a teacher with great personality and nothing else, word will get around, and one student is bound to launch a civil suit against the school board. In other words, the legal conditions are in place to protect students from teachers with great personality and nothing else.

But what conditions can the Church put in place to protect the faithful from those priests with great personality and nothing else? The faithful cannot come back from the dead to launch a civil or ecclesiastical lawsuit against them.