Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What Came First??

Alternative title for this post: Teachers Behaving Badly

I'm not sure whether it's better to be the chicken or the egg in this little scenario.  You see, I've been thinking a lot about professionalism, or rather UNprofessionalism.

If we're real with ourselves, we know we've seen other teachers acting unprofessionally.  So not Super Colleague behavior, but it's out there.  (And sometimes, from time to time, on those very frustrating days when we've had it up to here with test after test after lost prep after administrative demand after inside recess after canceled field trip...wait?  What was I saying? Oh, right...sometimes, on rare occasions, we may find ourselves acting unprofessionally too.)

HOWEVER (and this is a big however), we also know that teachers are frequently treated like unprofessional idiots.  I mean, how many times have I felt like I'm being treated as if I'm the same age as the students that I teach?  How often have I worried about "getting in trouble" if I am behind in my data collection?  How regularly did I feel as if I was being spoken down to or that my professional opinion was of little consequence?

TOO FREAKING OFTEN!!

That's how much.

Let's take a look at a few examples, shall we?

How about that spring when everyone from administrators to the school nurse were hell bent on effing with my flow?

Or the time that some individuals FELL ASLEEP during a demo lesson?

Or all the teeth sucking?  The eye rolling?  The dodging of responsibility?  The stealing of extra rolls during school-sponsored lunches?

And while it is easy for Mrs. Mimi to point fingers (It's the way of my people.), I know that from time to time, I myself have acted unprofessionally.  I know.  Take a moment to gather yourself.  It's true.

Remember this little tidbit for example?  The time when The Bacon Hunter essentially tried to break into my personal teacher stash of genius-ness in search of a binder full of mathematical wonder created by my team of Super Colleagues while I was absent and there was a substitute?  Yes, you read correctly.  Girlfriend took advantage of a substitute teacher in order to ransack through my things so that she could get her bacon grease covered paws on a collection of original work that I had (in all my unprofessionalism) refused to share with her?  Within this one little vignette, I can spot three instances where maybe I should have changed my ways to be more professional:
1.  Maybe I shouldn't have refused to share information that would only benefit children.  (But, in my defense, sister friend did virtually NOTHING to make my job easier or improve the learning opportunities for children and WOULD TOTALLY misuse, mistreat, and misplace our hard work.)
2.  Maybe I shouldn't have held my hand up in her face while she was talking.  (But again, in my defense, sometimes enough is enough!)
3.  Maybe I shouldn't have semi-interrogated my students about what went on in my absence.  (Here comes my defense again...but maybe she should have been smart enough to poke around when no one was looking.)

So yes, we all act unprofessionally from time to time.  And we can all probably defend our actions.  After all, (although we are sick, sick people who LOVE them) schools can be extremely political and infuriating places...

Here's the thing.  Is this behavior something we resort to (Some of us more than others...douche bags, I'm looking at YOU!) because we are inherently unprofessional people OR (and this is a big "or") are we acting this way because we are continuously treated poorly? Not to be all "poor us" but honestly...how many times are we dismissed, told what to do and not considered?  How many times is our expertise overlooked?  How many times have we been told to "just do our jobs"?

How many of us have to be fired for no good reason?  How many numbers need to be compiled to prove that we are worth our salt?  How many ass hats have to mock our summer vacations?  I mean after all that ALL THAT, can you really blame us when we snap every once in awhile and throw out an eye roll or engage in a heated gossip session?

So what do YOU think?  What came first??

11 comments:

Linda said...

I've also been contemplating this point. I recently was part of an "welcome to the district" PD, and I posted my thoughts

http://teacherlingo.com/blogs/dragonlady328pt/archive/2010/07/27/preparing-for-the-new-school-year.aspx

Sometimes, the higher-ups can go over the top, warning us "don't run with scissors". However, in fairness, some of the teachers are stupid enough to do so.

I've decided to save my real feelings for the few who will understand. I'm going to start a group blog, by invitation only, so I can rant to my heart's content.

Clix said...

Oh, my. I am really not sure if I can respond to this without coming off as a complete ass, but I'll give it a go.

can you really blame us when we snap every once in awhile and throw out an eye roll or engage in a heated gossip session?

Yes, people can (and obviously DO) blame teachers for responding to unprofessionalism in kind. Is it fair? Probably not. But it is what it is.

One of the mini-sermons I return to on a regular basis with my students is "Do what's right." No matter what.

"But Ms Keys, she was spreadin' lies about me!"

No matter what.

"You mean I should just let her LIE like that? Nuh-uh!"

I didn't say
that was the right thing to do. But I don't think what you said was right, either. What are some other possibilities?

Sometimes it's hard. A lot of the time it's not fair. But responding professionally is pretty much always the right thing to do.

The Tabbs said...

I was one of these "fired for no reason" people and am not able to find another teaching job, so I am forced to watch all the back to school sales and have no reason to partake in them *tear*

Teacher Stuff said...

I think most teachers have their moments of unprofessionalism when we have been treated like crap for a little too long. I don't think most do it to inherently be asses, but it happens. I think it happens more than itused to since there is so much more pressure put on us from everywhere. We've gotta get it out somehow, or we may snpa and end up being a bag lady on the streets mummbling for Johnny to sit down and shut up!

Frau M. said...

I think everyone "loses their Jesus" every once in a while...and that's ok.

ChiTown Girl said...

Girl, this gets a big AMEN from me, my sista!!

Stu said...

The only people who lose their professionalism once in a while are the humans. The rest never make mistakes.

PamelaTrounstine said...

We teach our students to do the right thing all the time, but there are days when stuff happens and when we ask all the questions and get to the bottom of it (or we watched it with our own eyeballs), we KNOW why that kid blew up. And while we still have to model the "that's still not ok" and what could you do instead" and "your punishment is" we have choose our words carefully, covering up our immeasurable sympathy.

Sister Linda is right, with the constant message of shut it and take it, shut it and take it, if you post a tweet "going to the store" and someone sees it, it might shatter your student's illusions that you live under your desk and eat crayons. *gasp*

Times have changed. Notice the tremendous power the media can have these days in our daily life, even if we aren't listening to it? My grandparents grew up with the idea that teachers were to be revered and respected for how hard they work. Someone, somewhere started talking about teachers that don't work very hard since school is in session for only 6 hours and teachers get 3 months of vacation, too. The changing media blew it up until everyone that isn't the spouse or offspring of a teacher honestly believes that after a BA+ 100 units of education, teachers really shouldn't be paid very much because they don't work as hard as other professions and they get ALL THAT vacation! And the idea perpetuated itself until today when sadly very few people, and only SOME parents and SOME administrators, believe teachers are worthy of respect. (Not that I'm seeing a whole lot of respect being shown for good administrators either with state and federal policies being what they are.)

Many of the douchecanoes we know in our respective schools are the people that came to the profession AFTER this myth had perpetuated itself. Some are shocked to discover it's not as easy as they thought it would be at first, after the first year, after the 10th year. But they keep looking for shortcuts and ways to cut others down because they're not going to work harder.

There is a point when we just can't shove it down any more. Like bladder issues and other biology that suffers as a result of our profession, likewise can our spirits. I no more appreciate the martyr teacher than I do the douchecanoe, because humanity just cannot absorb as much stress as the modern teacher has, and the teacher that always smiles and says "Oh, I did that yesterday, it was easy" when report cards and surprise benchmarks are looming make you look bad when you are overwhelmed, even if you know somewhere they had to take an unauthorized shortcut to make it happen.
con't

PamelaTrounstine said...

We teach our students to do the right thing all the time, but there are days when stuff happens and when we ask all the questions and get to the bottom of it (or we watched it with our own eyeballs), we KNOW why that kid blew up. And while we still have to model the "that's still not ok" and what could you do instead" and "your punishment is" we have choose our words carefully, covering up our immeasurable sympathy.

Sister Linda is right, with the constant message of shut it and take it, shut it and take it, if you post a tweet "going to the store" and someone sees it, it might shatter your student's illusions that you live under your desk and eat crayons. *gasp*

Times have changed. Notice the tremendous power the media can have these days in our daily life, even if we aren't listening to it? My grandparents grew up with the idea that teachers were to be revered and respected for how hard they work. Someone, somewhere started talking about teachers that don't work very hard since school is in session for only 6 hours and teachers get 3 months of vacation, too. The changing media blew it up until everyone that isn't the spouse or offspring of a teacher honestly believes that after a BA+ 100 units of education, teachers really shouldn't be paid very much because they don't work as hard as other professions and they get ALL THAT vacation! And the idea perpetuated itself until today when sadly very few people, and only SOME parents and SOME administrators, believe teachers are worthy of respect. (Not that I'm seeing a whole lot of respect being shown for good administrators either with state and federal policies being what they are.)

Many of the douchecanoes we know in our respective schools are the people that came to the profession AFTER this myth had perpetuated itself. Some are shocked to discover it's not as easy as they thought it would be at first, after the first year, after the 10th year. But they keep looking for shortcuts and ways to cut others down because they're not going to work harder, gosh darnit they aren't paid enough for that.

PamelaTrounstine said...

There is a point when we just can't shove it down any more. Like bladder issues and other biology that suffers as a result of our profession, likewise can our spirits. I no more appreciate the martyr teacher than I do the douchecanoe, because humanity just cannot absorb as much stress as the modern teacher has, and the teacher that always smiles and says "Oh, I did that yesterday, it was easy" when report cards and surprise benchmarks are looming make you look bad when you are overwhelmed, even if you know somewhere they had to take an unauthorized shortcut to make it happen.

You often talk about Super Colleagues. To be a Super Colleague you can't be a martyr all the time. A Super Colleague is often motivated to do things together/divvy up tasks/whatever by time constraints and pressure, and who better to do that with than the Super Colleague in the room next door you can trust has a similar understanding of 100% effort. A Super Colleague lets you vent, a Super Colleague doesn't have to ask why you are crying at your desk on a random Wednesday and volunteers to take just one task away so you can regain your composure that night, knowing you'll do the same when she hits her personal limit.

We know that doctors aren't the best decision-makers after 36 hours with no sleep (not that we're changing rotations now, even for life-or-death patient safety reasons.) We know that sleepy pilots can crash a plane. What is simply not recognized in this current climate is that the pressure over things that are long-term fixes, things that are not within our control, etc. create unbelievable stress in our teacher population, causing teachers to get sick more often, to leave the profession after investing a ridiculous amount in tuition, and to go through the motions if they can't leave the classroom. Really, Mimi, it's a wonder most remain as professional as we are, lesser beings would have cracked under the pressure a long time ago.

Ed_Thoughts said...

I've heard so much about summer vacation that I no longer call it that. I say that I'm "off contract" because I am. I'm not paid for summer, we just have our checks divided up. Summer break sounds like a paid vacation.

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