Thank you for joining me for my first official Teaching Thoughts post!
Last week, Kristin posted this article that listed things parents do that drive teachers crazy. You should take a moment and look over the list. I'll wait....
Now that you're back, she and I agree that this list is completely asinine. Most of these "problems" are not real problems, and if my problem was that someone brought me a mug on the first day of school, I would be thrilled. Do I need another mug? No. But the simple act of someone welcoming you to a new school year is what really matters.
Would you like to know some things parents do that actually drive teachers crazy? I'd be happy to share some real world problems with you, in no particular order. (While I have mentioned some of these things in previous posts, it appears that they need to be shared again.)
1. Take their child's word for it.
Parents love their children. They should. But you lied to your parents, and your child probably lies to you. Who WANTS to tell their parents that they got in trouble at school? I am willing to bet that if you think the teacher did something unreasonable, you better check with him/her first. We don't just give consequences to students just because we like it. Just as you don't like to have to punish your child, neither do we. Ask your child's teacher for the other side of the story before you get upset.
2. Complain/argue about their child's consequences.
In sixth grade, my team and I send home a 6th grade handbook (in addition to our school district's student handbook) with specific rules and consequences for sixth grade. Parents are required to look over the information with their child, provide their contact information, and sign a sheet stating that they have seen the handbook. A copy can be kept for their reference. At my district, our students leave 6th grade and go to the Jr/Sr high school. We are preparing them for more responsibility. If they do not follow the rules, they receive a consequence. The end.
3. Go over the teacher's head.
If there is a problem, please talk to your child's teacher. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, then talk to the building principal. If you are still not satisfied, then go to the Superintendent. If you continue to remain unsatisfied, take the issue to the school board. If I don't know that you have a problem with something, I cannot make changes to the situation. I am human. I will make mistakes. I will apologize when I mess up, but I cannot do this and work to resolve the problem unless I know that there is one. Skipping over us and going straight to our bosses makes us resentful. I doubt you would like it if I went to your boss and complained about you without talking to you first.
4. Blame the teacher for the child's bad grade.
I don't like to see kids fail, but the reality is that sometimes they do.....even the best students! We all have "off" days. If I know that many students failed because I didn't teach something well, I will reteach and give the test again later. I am doing everything I can to help your child to be successful. I can't give them the answers to the test.
5. Expect teachers to be infallible.
Sometimes, I have to be firm. Sometimes, I have to give a failing grade. Sometimes, I have to give a consequence. Frankly, sometimes, I have to yell. I am certain that as parents, you are not always perfect, please don't expect me to be. I will mess up. I will say the wrong thing. I may upset your child because they don't like their consequences, or they didn't like being corrected. But it's my job. It's my job to prepare your child for the next grade. It's my job to provide correction when it's needed. I wish I could be 100% perfect all the time. Sometimes I'm sick. Sometimes I'm tired. Sometimes, I'm all in and completely focused. Sometimes, I'm annoyed at the behavior of another student or class. In all, I am a human being with emotions, and sometimes they get the best of me.
These are all things that I have experienced at one point or another in my career. I take things very personally, and it's hard for me when my character is being attacked. It weighs very heavy on me, and it makes it hard to stay positive. The students rarely know that these things are taking place. They may be mad at me for taking their recess on Monday, but by Tuesday (or even 5 minutes later on Monday), we're good again. There are times I think parents could take a lesson from their children.
Fellow teachers, what do you think about this list? Is there anything you would add?