This post has been percolating in my mind for some time and it’s time to just get it out. As teachers we hold too much in and aren’t always honest with ourselves, our colleagues, and our students’ parents. We need to move past this phase of being the perfectly proper educators and start showing how tough we can be.*
I wake up at 5 a.m. to make it to work by 7, over 40 minutes before I’m actually contracted to begin. Do I get paid for that time? No, and I’m okay with that. I like to be prepared for the day, whether that means last minute lesson changes or rearranging some students’ desks.
As I walk in the school and see your child’s group of lockers and the mess atop them, I think who taught these kids to clean up after themselves? The answer? Clearly not you. Your children trash their lockers, their desks, the school’s property, and my own materials. Obviously your kids have been allowed to leave their junk laying around because, at the age of 11, bad habits are already ingrained.
I breeze past the mess, knowing that if I stop I’ll never get my “to do” list completed before 7:45.
Checking my email first thing is always a great time. Which parent has something to bitch about now? I scan briefly. How can my son bring up his reading grade? Can my daughter get an extra copy of the homework and turn it in tomorrow? Why is there a missing indicator in the online grade book for my son’s assignment? The homework was too hard for my daughter so we just plain didn’t do it.
I wish these were made up examples. Unfortunately they’re real examples from this current year of my six years in teaching. And, honestly, I’ve had all these types of emails since January. Weekly.
I respond quickly while I’m in a decent mood. Turn in his work. Extra copies are always available in the extra work basket but it will be marked late. Your son did not turn in the assignment. I’m sorry you felt the homework was too challenging for your child. In the future, please encourage her to attempt the work on her own so we can work on correcting the learning issue in class.
In reality, I want to email a blanket statement to these parents. Your child is not successful in my classroom because you, the parent, don’t back up the school’s ideals and expectations at home. Your child clearly poops rainbows and is a perfect gem, right? Wrong. Be the parent and make your kid responsible for his learning. Hold her accountable for her choices. Nobody is giving your kid an F. Your kid is earning an F. And rather than asking your child what he isn’t doing, you’re asking me what I could be doing?! Good job, Mom and Dad.
My job is to teach your child, not raise him. Let’s get that straight right now. Your child’s personality and behaviors are products of you. Not me. Can your kid write? Know the difference between a noun and a verb? Find his state on a map? Use a rubric to determine what’s expected on a project? That’s all me, the teacher.
Does your child show up to school on time? Has he eaten breakfast? Is she in dress code? Are his clothes clean? Is his hair brushed? Does she have a book bag with pencils and her agenda signed? Is all the homework completed or at least attempted? That’s all you, the parent. And those are just visual cues that I observe as your kid walks in the door.
Did you make your kid go to bed at a decent hour or did you let her watch TV all night? Does your kid have a bed with clean sheets? Did he bathe last night or this morning? What about an alarm clock? You own one? Do you make breakfast for your child, even so much as pouring some cereal into a bowl? Did you even look at your kid to make sure he has a belt and his shirt is on the right way? Does your child have a coat?
So, parents, let’s be clear on one thing. You raise your child. I’ll worry about teaching.
*The 10% of parents who, miraculously, act like parents need not read this. Go get a cupcake or a manicure. Better yet, crack open a beer because you deserve it. Thanks for being a parent and doing more than birth and house your offspring.