What makes a marginal teacher? This question is loaded with beliefs and answers… I recently read that a marginal teacher is incompetent and lacks enthusiasm. Harsh descriptors of a person who has a degree to teach… ?

I also read this statement the other day, “These teachers can also have a lack of motivation and accountability for their actions.” My question is why are they labeled as such? Is this because they are disheartened, or have they become content? Both have lasting ramifications for students in their classroom and the school. 

For me, a marginal teacher knows what to do but lacks in getting it done. They just might be on the cusp of being a good teacher. However, they are just shy of doing a few things needed. What are these? It could be and probably is different for each, but there is something. However, not knowing what to do versus choosing not to do quickly separates a marginal teacher from others. One can be taught, the other… well?  


I guess we can get caught up with definitions of a marginal teacher. Now, much of that depends upon how much the marginal teacher wants to grow. That will tell the difference between them actually losing the label or not. 

The marginal teacher may be more reluctant to try and improve. This is where they take on the characteristic of being content: and in terms of Rain Man (watch the movie), average sucks. Average, content, marginal… they all begin to spell the same for education. 

Just like growing students, we must grow teachers. The best way to get rid of a marginal teacher is to develop them into a good teacher. It takes time and effort. It takes mentoring, conversations, building a trusting relationship, etc. But time is of the essence. Just like a wound, marginal teachers will fester, become contagious, and we all know band-aids will not fix the problem. 

This seems to be a trend in education. Teachers who are in the classroom, binding their time, and working for the weekend. Teacher shortage is a real thing. A question I always ponder is, is a warm body in the classroom better than a nobody in the classroom?

Deep down, I believe we can grow a marginal teacher into a good/great teacher. Maybe they just lost their why. Perhaps they didn’t have a why, to begin with. Regardless, those marginal teachers are in our school buildings. Just maybe, they need to be shown why… we are educating the future. 

Let’s go fight the good fight of leadership. Someone has to…

Go be a great educator and leader today… Our future needs it…

Remember… Think Leadership and Be For Others…

©2023 J Clay Norton

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