My teacher friend just shared this Thought Catalog article, “Parents need to be reminded that teachers are people too.”
The usual snark accompanied this article as well.
This year, I’ve chosen to be more vocal about my issues with the teaching industry. In some ways, it’s a coping mechanism, in other ways, it’s because my school is very representative of all the issues with our education system. Throughout most of this, I’ve gotten blanket (and useless) sympathy where it’s come to a point where I hesitate to talk about my day or my weekend or how I’ve been because I feel bad only talking about school. (It’s also a bit hurtful when you see people’s eyes glaze over at your endless lists of obstacles you face). However, the worst part are the well-meaning advice I get from people who have never been in the teaching profession but feel they have the knowledge to give me advice or criticism.
Sure, they’ve worked with kids. Sure, they have kids. Sure, they’ve researched kids. Sure, they’re in policy; they’re in outreach; they’re in youth development; they’re in justice empowerment. Great, great, and GREAT! I am glad to have peers and colleagues who are doing amazing things in the world. But guess what? I used to be in those environments too. And I know I had the same mentality as you. Back then, I’d look at my amazing students as they come in tired after school, with loads of homework, loads of emotional burdens, and I too would blame the teacher and the school. But, that’s just not fair. Because you have never taught before.
I agree that good intentions aren’t everything, but, you need to give teachers the benefit of the doubt. A lot of former teachers at grad school would always belabor the topic of “professionalizing of the teaching industry” and point to doctors, lawyers, business execs, etc. I’m not even shooting for being treated like a professional. Just don’t belittle me. Don’t condescend. Thank you for reminders. Thank you for your concerns. Keep them coming. But try to couch them the same way you would when giving feedback and reviews. I’ve only had a few interactions like this – where the person felt concerned about something, exactly explained the concern, and then acknowledged what I might know / what I might already have been doing. The rest have just been offhand thoughtless comments.
It doesn’t help that apart from social circles, the media out there has an equally shallow perspective. The same mundane compliments or coverage or sensational criticism. I know that if I were in a teaching environment where I was supported internally, all that is happening externally wouldn’t bother me as much. But I’m not, and most young teachers aren’t at schools with healthy, supportive environments. In this case, being peppered by little daily comments turn into blows.
I’m a pretty confident person, but these past few years have a done a number on my self-esteem. It takes all the mental battling in the world to remind myself of my true identity in Christ, and yet I despair at the fact that I feel that all I do is smear the name “Christian” through the mud. Does that mean I just sit back and meekly take what everyone else dishes? I don’t think so. I think in my conscience, I’m not just writing to defend myself; I’m writing to keep a record of what is happening in schools. People avoid difficult issues and would rather talk about some basketball athlete’s injuries than about the fact that there are natural disasters, moral disasters, and social disasters everywhere in this world. I’m sorry to rain on your parade but if no one’s going to speak up for teachers in your circles, well, at least you’ll get a little somethin’ somethin’ from me.