Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I Think It's Called "Having A Chip On Your Shoulder"

Everyone is talking about education lately. Everyone. I'm in a local coffee shop- people are talking about how boring classrooms have become. (Their solution? More photography. I love photography but, wha?). I'm at Whole Foods about to blow my wad on three items with fancy yet irresistible labels- people are talking about report cards and how it's ridiculous that they actually have to go to the school and get them from their child's teacher. I'm waiting in line at the deli (a.k.a. the fourth circle of Hell)- people are talking about the behavior management system in their child's class.

And my gut reaction to all of this? To boldly insert myself into their private conversation and ask what qualifies them to have this conversation, to judge the way we do things.

Think I have a chip on my shoulder?

Don't answer that.

I guess these days I just assume people are going to shit on teachers. I assume they are going to complain without pausing to recognize what is working. I assume they will be all critique and no constructive thought. I assume they're going to blame it all on the teacher.

Jaded much?

13 comments:

The Girl said...

Your reaction is completely reasonable. Most of the media attention education receives right now is negative. The majority of conversations surrounding education have to do with what is WRONG with it, rather than what is working. Test scores are too low, students are below benchmark, teachers make too much money for the job they do (or the hours they "work"), teachers aren't well-educated enough (if at all), children aren't learning what's necessary to do well in the 21st century, etc. With as much bashing as our profession receives, it's no wonder we are on the defensive.

I have to stop myself from butting in and giving people a piece of my mind as well. It's difficult, because our first reaction is to defend that which we are passionate about and that which we love dearly. I'm trying so hard to see the other side of the arguments, and at least recognize them as valid, but it's a struggle. I know what goes on in my classroom and that of others. I'm in the trenches every day, fighting an uphill battle against ignorance, enablement, and constantly changing expectations.

That said, I still love what I do and I can't see myself every doing anything else again. For every one "ineffective" teacher, there are tons more who are dedicated, honest, and truly making a difference in the lives of their students. I think that it is our duty to at least explain truthfully to those who really don't understand what it is we do each day. But, we have to be polite about it...and factual...and not argumentative if we want our voices to be heard and our message understood.

Kim said...

I'm with you - it's very discouraging and tiring. C'mon, people, think! When my students ask why I haven't graded their tests yet, I explain that I have an average of 50 minutes planning time each day for making copies, making lesson plans, preparing for class, AND grading papers.

tw said...

And I thought it was just me... :) thanks!

Happy Elf Mom said...

I'm the parent of disabled children so I already come under scrutiny and can never be "good enough." You know, it's freeing, actually. You already know that people don't understand, they don't see what you've done and are continuing to do, and they don't appreciate how much harder your family has it than others do.

I don't know how to say this but kindly, I hope you don't take criticism to heart too much. Appreciation is (unfortunately!) a rare quality in our society. I do know how hard it is to continue working - and appearing to be failing - under such criticism. It is hard to do, to give grace to people who don't seem to deserve it.

Are you able to constructively enter these conversations? I've learnt (over years...) that sometimes it is helpful to gracefully put a word in and other times just to walk away and thank God these are not people you have to deal with on a daily basis. :)

Ms T said...

When God forbid someone decides to open their mouth in front of me to bash teachers, they will get a new one torn. You are a better woman than me.

PamelaTrounstine said...

Mizz Mimi, you are once again speaking the truth. And yeah, I can't help but butt in, and I think it does tick some people off who want to be nice and solid in their put-downs of education.

I've been thinking about this a bit as I do get "looks" for correcting false statements, challenging their assumptions (like, I was a double-major in college and have 75 units past my BA, how much do you have?), etc. when they seem to take so much pleasure in complaining. I think, maybe I'm being impolite, etc. And then while reading my education-related blogs this evening, I came across this, which I think you'd agree with Mimi, and I think you really walk the walk on it:
"When we hear inaccurate statements about our profession, we ought to stand up and correct them—our battle is a fight against false ideas as well. ....We can occupy the classroom, staying ahead of those who would rather downgrade our job to a matter of bubbles and letters. This will put us in control of the national education conversation and free us from inaccurate ideas about what the word "teacher" means.

We should also reach for the validation of our students. We need to keep them occupied, too. Schooling needs to be less about busy work and more about the kind of learning that will keep kids engaged in the material."

http://www.good.is/post/why-education-needs-an-occupy-the-classroom-revolution/

Occupy the web, occupy social media Mimi, interrupt people at the local coffee shop, you are a wonderful public representative for the profession. You and Jose are the bloggers I read when I need to get fired up and when I need to remember that there are places and people doing right every day they wake up.

Sioux said...

Yes, teachers get the "whipping stick" all too often. I agree with "The Girl." As frustrating as it is, as exhausting as it is, it is still the best job in job in the world.

(And Kim forgot something. In that 50 minutes, you have to pee, too. Personally, I've just switched to wearing Depends. That way, I get a bonus 3 minutes ;)

Marcus Byrd said...

Yeah, that is the way it goes! I hear a lot of the same sentiments everywhere I go.

I feel like I need to keep the fact that I am a teacher a matter of top secrecy so as not to be judged.

I love how we try to focus on a student centered classroom, until we need to point fingers and they inevitably turn to the teacher.

You can Follow Me @
www.teacherade.com

Dorothy said...

Mrs. Mimi:
What are you doing these days? Are you teaching 2nd still? I must've missed something somewhere...

Linda said...

You're right, you are a little over-sensitive.

What's exciting is that the parents see what technology can bring to the table - they're right, the report cards DON'T have to be printed. Instead of printing every one, the school can save a bundle on printing and mailing costs by making them electronically available.

I'm in email contact with many of my parents - the ones without computers often have Smartphones, which can handle email.

Janet said...

I think you are being perfectly reasonable. I have spent my weekend awake and worried over an IEP meeting scheduled for 8:00 am on Monday morning. The parent believes I have "given-up" on her child because I think he needs a special-ed referral. It pisses me off when a parent with a high-school diploma suggests I don't care about their child. She has no idea how many hoops I have to jump through to get this referral rolling and the time it takes me to prepare for a meeting because I think her child may have a learning disability. I told her he'd been rude, and having behavior problems and she suggested I was referring him to sped out of spite. OMFG! Excuse my language, but get your head out of your butt and get a clue! I love teaching, but when crap like this begins it makes me want to retire!

Debra said...

I feel very "on the defensive" this year because I have been gifted with several nutjob parents.

One little monkey, who likes to run away from school every chance he gets (cause the voices in his head tell him zombies are at school and are going to try to kill him), was to be excluded from our class field trip per school policy (basically, children who are a danger to themselves or others can be excluded as long as parents are notified). Being a Nice Person, I called Mama Monkey and invited her to come. Mama Monkey agreed, and as soon as she hung up, called the superintendent of our school district to complain I was picking on her child. MMMMMYYYYY new policy? Crazy little monkey is to be allowed on all of our field trips, no matter what. Grrrr.

And today I got the what-for because another munchkin lost his brand-new "super expensive" jacket. Um, sorry, lovely parents, but I cannot be held responsible for the whereabouts of 38 jackets--yep, it's another year with 38 kiddos.

Whenever I hear people complain about schools and teachers, I just feel so angry and defeated. If they could just walk in our shoes for TWO MINUTES!!

I am spending this year trying to fly with blinders on and just focus on my (mostly) fabulous little learners, or I'll just go completely bonkers :)

Debra

Unknown said...

Oddly enough I understand all sides of the discussion. People don't fully understand what teachers do and how hard it is to get GREAT, LOVING, CARING parents to stop by the school and hear how wonderful their kid is. For the other 99.9% of parents we have to do just about anything to get them to come in and help us with lil Johnny or Sally. If most parents had to do our jobs for 4 hours they'd quickly and easily give us a hand.

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