A substitute teacher myself, I don’t even pretend to have the guts and passion to be a full time teacher. But I have a privileged spot, spying on behaviors of teachers and students of all ages. Here is what I witness in all grades, one through twelve:
1. Kids don’t begin to know the meaning of respect.2. Rudeness is the flavor of the day.
3. Teachers bend over backwards to try new techniques, providing separate daily plans for several styles of learners.
4. Kids ignore the teachers, talking out loud to their friends while the teacher tries to teach.
5. Parents blame their child’s problems on the “teacher’s lack of effort.”
6. Kids play with cell phones, using computer “research time” to mess around on Facebook.
7. Kids wait for a few good students to do all the work, and then quickly dive in to copy all the answers at lunch or study hall. I worry about their shrinking out-of-use brains.
8. Most teachers spend at least part of their meager earnings to buy “fun lesson supplies” or treats for their students.
Parents beware. Our students are good at telling us what we want to hear. They make elaborate excuses for their poor performance. They blame the “lame” teachers or claim “boring” lessons. The fact is, someone has spent her precious evenings or weekends (and some of her own money) to come up with exciting lessons to spark a love of learning. Students are too tied up in their own egos to pay attention. They sit bored, sleep during class or spend their time entertaining classmates.
A young teacher friend of mine was hired four weeks into the school year when the fifth grade teacher quit to become a firefighter. She jokes that “he’d rather run in to burning buildings once in a while than face a roomful of fifth graders daily.” (Not to mention that it is currently popular in this country to appreciate firefighters.)
So I have a challenge for all of us. The next time we attend a parent-teacher conference, let’s thank our teachers for not giving up on our children. Let’s ask if our kids are disrespectful at school. If they are, let’s do our best to fix it. Our kids won’t die without a cell phone, Facebook or electronic games.
Let’s tell our teachers what we’ve been telling our soldiers and firefighters: “Thanks for what you do.” After all, they will help our children become nurses, doctors, lawyers, engineers or teachers. Teachers who go into battle every day, trying to make sure our children succeed.