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Musings of a teacher and parent

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
This started out as a reply to someone else's thread, but became so rambling and off-topic that I decided to make it its own thread.

If you read nothing else, not a single word, read this sentence: It is very, very likely that your child's teacher loves your child.

Not in a bad, creepy way. Not in the same way a parent loves her child. In the way that a teacher who has dedicated her life to teaching young people loves ALL of his students.

Teaching is an epic balancing act of need-meeting. You have the needs of the student who doesn't have a safe place to sleep, and might just need to nap in the library corner (before someone shouts it: yes, proper authorities have been notified). You have the needs of the child who is three years ahead of her age-peers. You have the needs of the child who is learning disabled. You have the needs of the child who is three years ahead of his age peers AND learning disabled. You have the needs of the child whose only experience with discipline in the home has been of the punitive sort. You have the needs of the child who has been lovingly and appropriately guided. You have the needs of the child who has been given free reign over her household.

Should the child who doesn't have a safe place to sleep be allowed to sleep in school? Should the child who just made a bad choice and stayed up until 3am playing video games? How do you explain the difference to the students? The parents?

If a child's ONLY experience with discipline is with the punitive, non-logical sort, it is difficult (not impossible, but difficult) to make it work for six and a half hours out of the day with 20+ students. There is little we can do to undo damage caused by abuse, neglect, or trauma. We become experts in damage control. The idea of proactive "avoiding situations where the problem can arise" is laughably difficult when the problems start (and continue) outside of school hours. A child who saw his mother hit the night before becomes a bully. Another parent requests her child not be near that bully during small-group work (a reasonable parent request). Child is moved to... a different group whose parents don't call and complain? To the teacher's desk to work alone? To an isolated time-out room? To a program for special needs students? We love our students, but don't have the advantage of just loving ONE of them.

Parents need to be advocates for their children. Strong, vocal advocates. ADVOCATES, not ADVERSARIES. Teachers are advocates... but we're advocates for 20 students. I'd take a bullet for my students. Even the "problem" ones. But a classroom isn't a home-school. In the best of situations, compromises need to occur.

What about when what you WANT to do, as a gentle, AP type JUST DOESN'T WORK in a large-scale classroom environment? We go in with lofty ideals and plans to feed our students dried fruit and purified holy water and edible sunshine... only to find that they go to their lockers to sneak a swig of Coca-Cola and a handful of Doritos. What happens when you get, over the course of a single week, one parent accusing you of giving too much homework, and another of giving too little (and the homework is all optional extension work to begin with)? You can say that Parent A's child doesn't have to do it, and send home extra for Parent B's child, but this stands as an example of the balancing act.

Just remember. It is very likely that your child's teacher loves your child. Yes, sometimes you need to negotiate to get your child's needs met. Occasionally, yes, you may need to go all Chuck Norris and initiate a pedagogical throw-down that will go down in the Annals of Parent-School relations. If you need to, then go for it. I'll have your back and even tell you about all the little inside ways to get what you need. But please please please pretty please with a cherry on top don't start there. Because we love your kid. And all the other kids. We're really trying to do what's best for them. If you think something else might help us meet their needs better, then PLEASE tell us. Help us. You know your kid so much better than we do. But tell us as a member of a team (parent-child-teacher). How can WE solve the problem?

Because we love your kid, and want what's best.

Annnnnnnd... there went my lunch hour. Sorry if it's disjointed and ridiculous. I'm operating on five hours sleep after a 36 hour airline travel experience, alone, with a toddler.
post #2 of 31
That was a great post. This is what I had always thought of teachers until my child started school. There was a horrible post awhile back in TAO about experiences in certain jobs. I was floored by what I read teachers (present and former) say about children. I've been shocked by certain things that have occurred at my son's school. So while I do believe that most teachers are like you described, I have seen that they aren't always that way and a bad teacher is a hard thing to get past.
post #3 of 31
I think that you described the way that most of the teachers in my kids' school are.
post #4 of 31
Blizzard Babe, I think I love you! Your post describes my feelings so well (including the rambling) As totally stressed out, over-stretched, time-crunched, data overloaded, and insanely crazed feeling that teaching makes me, I love it and I love my students! In fact, today I was way stressed out! (quarterly assessments we are supposed to give this week do NOT match the 2nd quarter curriculum from the district) I was trying to do a quick lesson on persuasive techniques and the kids were just going off about all different types of "As Seen on TV Products" after I asked (in the very animated way that crazy teachers have) "would you rather buy the Super Absorbent Towel or the Sham Wow!" That was all it took to totally loose the lesson and the class! It was a moment where I just felt like giving up or screaming, but instead I yelled (over the conversations of 24 6th graders) "I'm doing this becuase I LOVE YOU ALL! I am NOT the one taking this test. I already know this stuff, please help me teach it to you becuase I LOVE YOU!" It stopped them all quick
post #5 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mommyto3girls View Post
"I'm doing this becuase I LOVE YOU ALL! I am NOT the one taking this test. I already know this stuff, please help me teach it to you becuase I LOVE YOU!" It stopped them all quick
Classic.
post #6 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alyantavid View Post
That was a great post. This is what I had always thought of teachers until my child started school. There was a horrible post awhile back in TAO about experiences in certain jobs. I was floored by what I read teachers (present and former) say about children. I've been shocked by certain things that have occurred at my son's school. So while I do believe that most teachers are like you described, I have seen that they aren't always that way and a bad teacher is a hard thing to get past.
Honestly, on some days, I could probably have written a pretty horrible post.

The day I watched as a boy dragged his sister across the room by her hair (domestic issues bled over into school).

The day I nearly got punched in the face (the kid has since been featured on "America's Toughest Prisons")... he stopped his fist a quarter of an inch from my nose.

The night I saw one of my pregnant students, walking around town drunk off her arse.

The Thanksgiving my uncle went off at a family gathering about how he has never met a teacher he respects because who would choose to work with children except someone who doesn't have the skills to work with adults?

Really, there's a lot to dislike about the whole deal. But still, I love it. I just want parents to realize that most of the time, even when we're doing something you might not specifically like, it's with good (sometimes misguided) intentions.
post #7 of 31
My oldest is now in junior high and dh is a public high school teacher. Three of my sisters are teachers. I hang out with teachers all the time. It's a nice fuzzy generalization, but I don't buy it.

Some teachers love your child. Some teachers love some of the children in the class and think others are suppurating boils. Some teachers really don't much like any kids. Some started out loving kids, but are so burned out they can barely stand the sight of them. Many teachers are fabulous and would go to the mat for your kid. Some shouldn't be in the same room with children..

My own kids have had teachers that are extraordinary. As I'm writing this, my older dd is sobbing because her beloved violin teacher's husband died recently. This woman is an incredible teacher and gave my dd the gift of music. Last year my younger daughter had a teacher who I believe had serious psychological issues and did my daughter a great deal of harm. Of course, this dreadful woman would be the first to tell you how much she "loved" the children at the same time she was damaging them.

Like any group of people, teachers are a mixed bag.
post #8 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EFmom View Post
Like any group of people, teachers are a mixed bag.
Of course. But I think (based on experience), the vast majority *do* think they have the students' best interest at heart. I know some awful, awful teachers. Awful. But all (well, most) at least started out loving children. I think the burnout factor you mentioned is HUGE.

ETA: I am going to try to work the phrase suppurating boils into at least one conversation today. Love it.
post #9 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by blizzard_babe View Post
Even when we're doing something you might not specifically like, it's with good (sometimes misguided) intentions.


As someone who spent 5 years as a teacher in an elementary classroom and is now in my 8th? 9th? year as a school counselor, how I WISH that all of my parents would remember the above.

I get honestly terrified by many of the posts I read in the "Learning at School" forum. I work SO HARD at my job and I know I make mistakes every day and don't always handle things as well as I could... plus I'm facing so much pressure from the people above me that my parents have no idea about!... but often the folks here are so unforgiving of those teachers like me.
post #10 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by blizzard_babe View Post
Parents need to be advocates for their children. Strong, vocal advocates. ADVOCATES, not ADVERSARIES. Teachers are advocates... but we're advocates for 20 students. I'd take a bullet for my students. Even the "problem" ones. But a classroom isn't a home-school. In the best of situations, compromises need to occur.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!! I am so thankful that I am not the only teacher who feels this exact same way! I would take a bullet for one of my students in a heartbeat. Not even a question in my mind. I love them. No way can I possibly love them as much as their parent- I don't have children of my own to compare it to- but I LOVE them. I was in tears when they got up in front of their parents and sang at their holiday concert *they are 4*. I have held them when they are upset, scared or sick. Comforted them. Cried WITH them. They are the last people I think about before I fall asleep at night and the first little people I think about in the morning. I pride myself on validating them, listening to them and respecting them. And I do it all for less money than the 17 year old across the street makes working fast food

And it is BECAUSE I love them!

Great post! Truly!
post #11 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by blizzard_babe View Post
Of course. But I think (based on experience), the vast majority *do* think they have the students' best interest at heart. I know some awful, awful teachers. Awful. But all (well, most) at least started out loving children. I think the burnout factor you mentioned is HUGE.

ETA: I am going to try to work the phrase suppurating boils into at least one conversation today. Love it.
As Grandma was fond of saying, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I was beaten by nuns in elementary school who thought they had my best interests at heart.

I guess a teacher's belief that they are doing the right thing, while they are in fact doing the wrong thing, is meaningless in my book.
post #12 of 31


I teach kindergarten. I have children in my class who cannot recognize the alphabet and children reading on a fifth grade level. I have children living in 5000 square foot houses and a child who is one of eight siblings and lives in a three-bedroom townhouse. I have kids with nannies and kids who rely on the school lunches to have enough food to eat. I give 110 percent to meet the individual needs of all of these children every day. I always think about how I would want *my* child to be treated, and treat these children accordingly. In my school, I'd wager that the vast majority of my colleagues do the same. Please remember that when you deal with your child's teacher. He or she certainly didn't go into it for the money.
post #13 of 31
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EFmom View Post
I guess a teacher's belief that they are doing the right thing, while they are in fact doing the wrong thing, is meaningless in my book.
Meaningless? Even if they find out they're wrong, and change? I know I've "done the wrong thing" many, many times, as a teacher, as a parent, and as a human being. I do my best to not repeat my mistakes, and try not to make them in the first place... but if never doing the wrong thing is the unit of measurement, are any of us good at anything?

I guess my intention here was just to emphasize starting out in a partnership relationship when bringing issues forth, and then only escalating to an adversarial kind of relationship if a partnership doesn't work. I sense an unspoken assumption around here that teachers are NOT operating with good faith, and just wanted to offer a view of a fairly AP, gentle, student-centered teacher who has happened to have a lot of colleagues who also share those tendencies.
post #14 of 31
Blizzard Babe, that was such a great post. Thank you so much.

(I also love your signature. I want to make it my facebook update. )
post #15 of 31
Yes, the teacher's good intentions are pretty meaningless to me. I care deeply about how they are educating my child, but whether or not they think they "love" my kid is irrelevant.

Some of the worst teachers we've experienced would be the same ones who trumpet their good intentions the loudest. And in my experience, those same teachers are the ones who will not look at any evidence about the harmfulness of their actions because they are so convinced they are doing what's best for the kids.
post #16 of 31
I've taught in classrooms as an ed assistant. I agree that teachers should be given the benefit of the doubt and assumed to be caring and trying. I try always to treat teachers well and to communicate respectfully - by which I mean LISTEN.

However I have personally had conversations and witnessed things that were awful - scapegoating and bullying and nasty comments and ways of treating kids that were, to not put too fine a line on it, soulcrushing.

I also think teachers are fundamentally trained in what I consider to be disrespectful modes of interaction, starting with the idea that a first year teacher is handed the key to her classroom and permitted to be a dictator with very little daily support or supervision. Many teachers overcome these issues, but some don't.

So - blizzardbabe, you have my support but I can't quite check my experiences at the door.
post #17 of 31
While I come from the perspective of a parent, with no teaching credentials, I can see both sides of the spectrum. I have a lot of respect for teachers in general, anyone that can handle 20+ kids for 6+ hours has to at least LIKE children. My son frequently comes home and acts out his days at school. While 90% of it is telling his younger brother to sit down and be quiet, I can imagine what his K teacher goes through with 20 5/6 yr olds from a low income district. I can appreciate, and admire the fact that she does this day in and out.if it were me I would go absolutely insane! There are some things i whole-heartedly disagree within our school district, I realize it is not the teachers that make the policy but the administrators.
post #18 of 31
Blizzard Babe, I applaud you. I grew up in public schools, as did my sons, they are now 32 and 29. Through the years they had some extraordinary teachers. I think the reason it worked out so well, was as parents we were involved in school, voluntering in the classroom, cafeteria, pta, meeting with the teachers, etc. One of my sons was a handful, and I was not a mother to sugarcoat his behavior. I told his teachers about him, and we worked together to come to a sensible conclusion. I have seen teachers put through the ringer by parents, who believe their children could not possibly be a problem. They would blame another kid or the teacher. Anybody who can spend about 40 hrs. a week with a class full of children, without losing their cool, gets a big well done, from me! Keep up the good work, our children need a teacher like you!
post #19 of 31
I was a public school teacher. Based on some of the things I heard in the teachers' lounge, I don't believe that all teachers love all of their students, or even like them sometimes.

I didn't love all of my students, but I did advocate for them and I did try to create a safe place for them to be and grow and learn.
post #20 of 31
I have volunteered as a parent helper for many teachers, and I can tell you that not every teacher I have known has loved or even liked all their students. And as GuildJen described, it can be soul crushing.

But blizzard_babe - you go! The world needs more teachers like you.
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