Job descriptions

Michael P Jansen

Job descriptions are a good thing. Whether you clean the streets or transplant hearts, it’s beneficial to know exactly what you’re to do. It informs — and protects — you and your clients and your boss.

Teachers, students and parents all have job descriptions in your classroom. 


  • to be a subject master
  • to plan the course
  • to create and maintain a top-notch instructional environment1
  • to create and execute engaging, relevant, rigorous activities
  • to create and manage positive relationships with students, parents, colleagues
  • to instruct or explain… this used to be called “teaching”
  • to assess student performance and learning


  • to understand, by engaging himself or herself in the instructional environment
  • to ask and answer questions; participate positively
  • to take notes
  • to study at home regularly — re-write/summarize notes, complete homework
  • to revise (review) for tests


  • to support student learning, in cooperation with — not opposition to — the teacher

When we know what we must do, our jobs get easier. We can only teach — we can’t learn for a student. (Corollary: extra help is simply extra teaching.)

Students should not study for tests. Studying is the extraction of meaning and the retention thereof. This must be done day-to-day. Before a test, a student revises — or reviews — what he or she has learned. Learning material immediately before a test is hardly ideal. There is too much; it promotes rote memorization.

One word is missing from the above. In my book, this is a four-letter word: MARKS.

Education is a long game. Marks are a short game.
Real education is more than subject mastery. It includes behaviour, and respect and responsibility and accountability, along with a firm handshake and polishing one’s shoes. These are important for citizenship — more important than chemical equilibrium.

This year, my plan is to ensure that everyone — starting with me — is accountable. 


  1. High School Chemistry classrooms are an instructional environment — the learning environment is at home.