Professional Learning

How to Work with the No-Share Teacher

Sharing is an integral part of teaching. So what do you do when someone won’t share?

August 4, 2011

Holden Clemens (a pseudonym) is a teacher in Springfield, U.S.A. In today's post, he continues his series on practical tips for working with various exasperating educational archetypes.

A few years back I was working at Pascoe Senior High School and I was teaching a wonderful group of students in Honors American Literature. New that year was a teacher that was teaching the same class as I was. I was excited. New blood in a department can be a great way to exchange different ideas, and this can make everyone better at what they do. Sadly, it appears that this new teacher failed the Sharing unit in kindergarten.

As a teacher, I feel that sharing is important. We all beg, borrow and deal with others in an effort to provide the best learning experience for our students. There needs to be a give and take. Just taking and never giving makes you a bad colleague. Not sharing in school is as ridiculous sounding as the Department of Education sending a swat team to bust someone for delinquent student loans. Right?

At first, the new teacher asked for a lesson here and there and I never thought anything of it. (This person was only new to the district, not the profession. He/she had four years somewhere else.) Yet when I asked for materials, I was told they would come in an email, but they would never appear in my inbox. I realize now that I had a better chance of getting a personal DM from my Congressperson than I did getting any materials out of this new teacher. The big questions I wondered was, "Why?" Why would a teacher not want to share their material?

Maybe the material was bad. Perhaps the teacher thought it would be easier to take stuff from others instead of creating the work on his/her own. Either way, it's lame. A good teacher tailors each lesson for the specific students in the classroom. Lessons cannot be slid into any class slot with adjustments. All lessons need to be adapted for the group of kids sitting in the desk. That is what makes a teacher a good teacher.

It came to a point where I had to decide whether or not I was going to continue to share with this person. Is that fair to the kids? Are my lessons truly my own or are they created for my department? I finally decided to stop sending my lessons over email and told the teacher that I would love to sit down and go over my lessons and I really wanted to hear about the exciting adaptations he/she was making to them. I never heard back from this teacher. Other teachers in the department complained to the department chair and the teacher was eventually let go at the end of the year. It was a sad ending to a story that did not have to end that way.

As teachers, sharing should be second nature to us. We should want to share what we do with others in the hope of making life a bit easier for them and their students. Sadly, many teachers are guarded and are afraid of being judged. I know I have some lessons that are terrible, but sharing them could allow me the chance to make them better. If you have a colleague that is afraid to share but wants your materials, offer to sit and go over them. If they take you up on the offer, create an environment where they feel comfortable opening up about their lessons. If they don't accept, send them the crappy stuff. They won't know the difference.

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