The lying flat or tangping (躺平) movement sweeping across China among young professionals was covered by the media last year. Lying flat means workers are doing their jobs and going home, not burning the midnight oil. Recently, in America, the buzzword has been quiet quitting. It has been described in two ways, (a) doing the job and going home and (b) doing the bare minimum to get by. Unfortunately, some teachers decided not to leave the profession during the great resignation but instead decided to show up and do the bare minimum.
When teachers do the bare minimum, they might still gain a paycheck, but students lose a quality education. There are always signs when teachers quiet quit and do the bare minimum.
The first area of decline is communication. If parents contact the teacher, the teacher will not respond. If the teacher responds, it is only after the parent has contacted the teacher in multiple ways or escalated the situation to the administration. The teacher also does not proactively call home about any situation, whether it is positive or negative.
Assignments & Grading
The teacher does not update the gradebook promptly. Grades seem to only appear right before the midterm or right before the quarter concludes. The teacher makes no effort to offer opportunities to redo work for a higher grade. The assignments are mostly copied from a book or is from a unit package purchased from Teachers Pay Teachers. The teacher lacks the effort or enthusiasm to create fun assignments for students.
After School Events
The teacher does not know what after-school activities students participate in and does not return to school to support students in those activities. When information is shared during the announcements about how students performed in after-school events, these teachers use this time to complete tasks at their desks.
Not much is displayed on the walls … if the teacher even bothered decorating the classroom. Also, the walls stay the same the entire school year. No anchor charts are hung. No student work is hung. No data wall is available to track students’ progress.
Lives at Desk
The teacher lives at the desk. The teacher does not walk around but stays seated all class, even when chaos breaks out.
The teacher uses all of their sick leave and personal days. There is nothing wrong with an employee doing this when it is thoughtfully planned and does not impact teaching and learning. However, these teachers tend to take off with little notice leaving colleagues and administration to scramble to find coverage for the class.
Most teachers have worked with teachers like this who seem like they would rather be anywhere but a school. Teaching is a profession where it can be hard to have a work-life balance. Teachers should not be expected to work after contract hours every single day, but there is a stark difference between teachers seeking work-life balance and those who quiet quit and do the bare minimum. A good administrator should help teachers like that put in more effort or help them take their lack of effort with them to the exit door.