I have witnessed some pretty amazing things during my career as a teacher; a career that has spanned 2 school boards, 2 schools, 4 different languages, 4 different classrooms, 18 different classes, 6 different principals, and approximately 2000 students (some of which I have taught and others which I met from within the school community). That is a whole lot of awesomeness right there. However, there is a negative phenomenon that has been growing right before my very eyes for the past 18 years. It makes my heart race, my breathing rate increase, and my blood boil. We have all seen it, heard it, and unfortunately, lived through it. It is the epidemic known as Teacher Shaming and I am trying to get the word out so that people are aware of it and can make it stop.
I teach not because I love all the planning, evaluating, correcting, and summers off… but because I love the children I work with. I love seeing the progression my students make from day to day – both academically and personally. I stay up late at night worrying about them. I have dreams and expectations for them as well. I deal with their ups and downs and I love them unconditionally during the year that I have them and for many years to come. I love seeing my former students working in my community and have such a sense of pride when they recognize me out in public and want to have a conversation with me.
As much as I would love to say how wonderful every day of my job is, I cannot do so. Teaching is tough. Working with 20 + children each and every work day is challenging. There are some days when I wonder how I am going to get through the day without losing my sanity. There are days when nothing works out the way I want it to and I cannot wait to hear the bell that lets me know I can get out of the building. There are days when I question my own ability to be a good teacher. At the end of those days, I go home and reflect on how I could have handled things better, try to relax, and think of ways to make the next day better then the one before. Unfortunately, I also wonder if the way I dealt with a situation during the day will wind up being blasted on social media or in the gossip circles of the school community.
Teachers do way more than just deliver the curriculum to their students. On any given day, I can be a referee, nurse, psychologist, and in some cases, a substitute parent. I take this part of my job very seriously. That is why when parents start shaming me, or one of my colleagues, I start to shake my head and wonder why parents feel the need to publicly shame our efforts and interventions with their children.
I have personally witnessed parents yelling at teachers during parent teacher interviews, have had impolite and aggressive notes written in students’ agendas, have seen teachers verbally threatened, and have seen negative things written about teachers and my school on social media sites. Seeing these incidents happen more and more frequently, I began to ask myself a few questions…
When did the shift from being a cooperative part of a child’s educational journey change into a battle of wits between parents and teachers?
Why is it that some parents feel that they can dictate what teachers do and how they do it in their classrooms?
Why do some parents expect special treatment for their children?
Why do some parents question the professional development, training, and certification of qualified teachers?
What validation do Teacher Shamers get from humiliating their child’s teacher?
Teachers do their jobs to help your children be the best they can be. If your child comes home with a negative story about his or her teacher, please remember that there are always two sides to every story. If we place a note in your child’s agenda about an issue that arose during the day, take a step back, reflect upon the situation, and speak directly to the teacher. Don’t take out a pen and paper or write an email in the heat of the moment. Don’t pick up the telephone and call a friend who has a child in the same class. By doing all these things, you are belittling the teacher and not providing him or her with the respect he or she deserves. Inadvertently, you are casing more harm than good – especially if your children are witnessing, overhearing, or reading your anger towards their teachers.
If you think this issue is completely one-sided, think again. Next week I will talk about the need for teachers to stop parent shaming.
UPDATE: Part 2 can be found HERE.
Have a great day!