Teachers and the Merit of Flexibility

Flexibility is an excellent teacher trait and something that teachers and students both benefit from in the end. When a teacher is relatively flexible, his or her students become more flexible too. Imagine having a mentor, teacher, college or university professor who has no flexibility, one who has not learned how to be flexible in terms of his or her classroom or teaching methodology.

“I am the teacher and what I say is never questioned!” he or she insists. “There is no bending of the rules in my classroom, ever!”

“Aw, come on,” replies a student, thinking to him or herself, “You are such a dinosaur.”

Was that the way he or she was educated? Perhaps it is more indicative of the continual need for change for the better in the educational system, during every era.

What is flexibility? 

Dictionary.com suggests flexibility refers to being “capable of being bent, usually without breaking” or being “susceptible of modification or adaptation; adaptable” and “willing or disposed to yield.”

Why is flexibility so important in education today?

In a global educational system where there are thousands of older students returning to school for higher education or upgrading, the flexibility of teachers everywhere becomes a serious concern. With a trend towards increasing academic freedom in the classroom and online, teachers need to demonstrate a high degree of flexibility in order to succeed at teaching. Teachers who are not flexible do not thrive and often will not survive in their occupation, at least not for any length of time.  

A teacher with a relatively flexible personality and attitude does not fear being flexible in his or her classroom or teaching, because he or she knows that there are many different approaches to education and learning. Teachers teach flexibility to their students.

Students, particularly those who are young, ‘bend’ easily, like young willow branches. Those with flexible personalities and attitudes to their studies, often welcome the flexibility of their teachers and the multiplicity of different approaches to learning.  Older students may have a more difficult time being flexible in terms of education.

Where should a teacher be flexible?

Being flexible with curriculum schedules, classroom routines, assignments, etc. reduces the stress and tension for teachers, as well as students. There is also room for flexibility in teaching methods, academic research and different approaches to teacher-student academic relationships.

Knowing when to be flexible and how flexible to be becomes a judgment call, an important decision made daily by teachers everywhere. There are times when excessive flexibility is not a good idea, like during an examination. Teachers can still be reasonably flexible and maintain control over students and classrooms. At the same time, students need to learn some degree of discipline. If there is too much discipline or leniency, it is not necessarily a good thing. Of course, the degree of discipline or leniency depends upon the situation or circumstances.  

Teachers, as well as students, are not going to ‘break’ by becoming more flexible, although many young teachers are often fearful of being too flexible. Teaching jobs are not normally lost because of a teacher’s flexibility with his or her students.

Teacher flexibility implies adaptability. Commending teachers for their adaptability, particularly under difficult circumstances, encourages them to be more flexible. It also leads their students to be and teach flexibility to others, including parents and grandparents whose sense of discipline may be excessively rigid. There is always room for change in every era.