Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Being a teacher should not mean being a doormat

We teachers are all feeling like this lately


hiding from abusive parents, demanding administrators, out of control legislators

Well - to coin a phrase, I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!  I responded openly and honestly to a parent e-mail today.  I had a parent basically insult me and accuse me of intentionally trying to prevent her son from participating in sports rather than help him succeed.  Now normally I just take a breath and then politely respond how I am sorry (taking the blame on myself) and try to appease the parents so they don't get upset or go to the Principal - well NOT TODAY!  I was professional but very blunt - and I stated that I resented her accusation and that the responsibility for not turning in work should be directed at her son and not at me.  Honestly - I didn't (don't) care if I am written up or even fired, parents do not have the right to bully teachers. 
Since when did it become socially acceptable to belittle and abuse teachers?  It is so disheartening to listen to my colleagues and see the frustration and pain on their faces and in their body language.  I fear that we are headed for a severe shortage of quality teachers.  I recently read a very well written article entitled "Why I want to give up Teaching."   One line from the article was especially poignant "government attempts to improve education are stripping the joy out of teaching and doing nothing to help children"  It is a very sad and very accurate statement on the current sentiment from the teachers in this country.  I don't believe I am exaggerating, I wanted to find the article again so I did a quick Google search for 'Why I want to quit teaching' and received 19,500 hits.  I'm not sure if reading many of these articles was affirming or simply depressing.  What I learned; the turnover rate in teaching is higher than most other professions, pay is also an issue for most teachers, mostly it's about job dissatisfaction - about teachers feeling powerless.  Today I took back some of my power - I stood up to a parent who was being a bully, despite the fact that I got no help from my administrators, I spoke up for myself.  Is it enough to change all the problems of education? NO, but at least its a step in the right direction, and it made me feel good.   
 Teachers should be respected, if we continue to demean and overregulate the field of education, if we allow overbearing parents, zealous politicians and power hungry administrators to continue to push teachers beyond their breaking point, we will all lose - especially the children.

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