Disclaimer: I’m getting off the wealth and money train for a little bit to explain to readers about how they can help our struggling teachers across America in a big way. So if you want money talk today, just click around and find a topic on my site that interests you and read away. If you want to help a teacher out, and make our society better keep reading below.
I love my job as a teacher and a coach, but at the same time I do wonder if others realize what a strange job I have. My job is complicated and ever-changing in our society’s view. As a 13 year veteran of teaching, I have used chalk, dry erase markers, projectors, desktops computers and laptops, to laser projectors, chrome books and iPads, to online textbooks, Google Classroom platforms, to using a paper EZ Grader device. I have used paper grade books with zero access to parents and students, and computer grade books that give every one with access 24/7 access. I wear many hats as a teacher, mentor, coach, parent figure, brother figure, babysitter, therapist, bus driver, parenting coach, inspirational figure, disciplinary, and at times a local hero to a few. I have one of the best, most influential, and most important jobs in our country. I passed up on law school because I started subbing and decided that teaching was a better fit for me, and my love for helping others grow. But, today I want to point out another strange thing about my job. Disrespect by our society.
It’s strange because everyday people will send their most precious thing in their life to me to teach and influence everyday, but the second there is the tiniest little issue, all this disrespect comes out towards a teacher. People feel they can just treat us like crap, and that we are not graduate degree holding professionals. For example, I caught a student cheating on a test using their cell phone. So, I gave them a zero for the test, like you’re suppose to do, and told them that they could come by in the morning to write me an essay test to replace their zero (What a nice guy, right!). I felt this was more than fair, and I wanted to teach the student a lesson, not fail them. I called the parent to explain the situation to them, that their child made a mistake, and they will need to be at school at 7:45 am for tutorials to replace the test they cheated on. This parent explained to me with much negative attitude, that they didn’t want to wake up earlier to get their child to school for the make up test. They thought I should have taken up the phone and let them continue the test, and their child only cheated because I wasn’t teaching them anything in class. This conversation went on like this for another couple of minutes as I listened quietly to the verbal abuse, and it ended with me saying if your child doesn’t come in the morning they will fail for the six weeks and not be able to play sports. The parent suddenly understood, and the child was there on time the next morning at 7:45 am. As a coach I see this all the time with parents who are supportive of sports, but not their child’s morals, values, character, or education. We also had to cut a few players because they never passed classes, and were never eligible to play sports. The parents accused the coaches of mishandling their child. We explained that we only see them in athletics, and that they are failing math, science, and their elective courses. It was still our fault and not the child’s or the parents as we sat quietly as they vented and questioned our character and manhood.
It is also strange how much parents are watching you do your job too. I have parents who email a few minutes after a grade gets put in the computer. They set up alerts on their phones with the grade book, and see the grades as soon as they go in. If the grade is bad I get an email before they speak to their child about the grade. The emails are usually very aggressive and filled with their immediate anger from the bad grade toward me and not their child. Also, as a coach it is amazing what parents will yell at you the coach, or other players that are not theirs during competitions. I have been called, “Worthless, a Loser, Piece of Crap, Racist, Terrible, Retarded, Idiot, Crazy,” and much worse. This is again at my place of employment with children present and hearing their parents yell this in public during athletic competitions. I have very thick skin from my experiences playing and now coaching, so it slides off me, but what are you teaching your child about life when you do this to a coach. They also get thrown out of the game by a game manager too in front of their child for this behavior. Why is your child’s bad play a coach’s or referees fault? Do these people even hear themselves?
This total lack of respect isn’t happening everyday to me, but I know it is happening at my high school daily to at least one teacher somewhere in my building of about 200 employees. Also, principals, secretaries, and other member of our staff are disrespected daily by parents of our community. I work in a great school district with a great community too, and I know it is worse in other schools. I have taught in worse schools and districts where parents are open about telling their children to “Beat that teacher’s ass, or You don’t have to listen to them. They’re just teachers.” For some reason many people of our community and students are under the impression that teachers have failed in life, and had to become a teacher by default. I succeeded in almost everything I ever did in life, and chose to be a teacher after loving my experiences as a substitute teacher while I was getting accepted into law school. I skipped law school to become a teacher because I felt it was an awesome job to have. People and kids need to understand that teachers sacrificed four years or more of college level education to learn enough to teach your child. They are professional teachers, and not some leftover of society. Also, I remind my students all the time that I’m not there to discipline them, but to teach them. They are responsible for their own discipline and their own education. I am their guide in education. They can choose to learn as much or as little as they choose in my class. I also remind them that you get what you put into your education. If you graduate and know nothing, then you will get a job that requires you to know nothing. Their future is being shaped now as 14, 15, 16 year olds, and their character and self-discipline is also being shaped now. Kids and parents need to learn to be more respectful to these professionals, and follow the golden rule, “Treat others how you want to be treated.” People don’t talk to doctors, lawyers, engineers, or other professionals like they do to teachers, so learn respectfulness. It’s that simple to fix this problem. If you don’t think your child is getting a good education, or their teachers are all against your child and getting them in trouble, then maybe you need to figure out how you can make a change at home in yourself first. Treat teachers with respect and teach your children to do the same. I bet their grades go, and they get in trouble less if you change your attitude towards these trained, highly educated, professionals that have decades of experience teaching your child.
I didn’t want this to be a grip session, but I see the funding walk outs, good teachers quitting from verbal abuse, teachers in tears at school after parent calls, and kids thinking they run the schools and can treat people poorly. This can be changed at home first, and I hope you reflect on your behavior and what you are modeling for your children at home. We can change the world in our profession, but we are really just an extension of what is being taught and modeled at home. Change your view and lets work on changing societies view of the education profession, and lets make education better in America by just respecting one another more.
*Look into how Finland has change their education system over the last 50 years to become one of the world’s best education systems in the world. It all started with their society treating their teachers as professionals. Now everyone is the whole country is benefiting from this mindset change of respect the teachers.