Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dear Parents,

I am a teacher and I AM NOT THE ENEMY!! I would like to take this time to clarify a few things. First, I did not decide to pursue a career in teaching because of the lucrative salary, the prestige, or because I am a fan of conjunctivitis or running into my present, past and future students at every movie theater, mall, grocery store, CVS, Dunkin Donuts or Target within a 30 mile radius (because really who needs a private life?). On the contrary, I chose a career in teaching because I have a passion for literature and a love for children. However, crazy parents are going to have me throwing in the towel long before I put my 30 years in. Please allow me to explain. You are the reason that great people leave the teaching profession every year for higher paying, less stressful jobs. I think that the reason for this confusion may be because you believe us to be miracle workers. Please let me state: "I am a teacher not a miracle worker!" However, part of being a teacher means I am also in many cases: a substitute nurse, therapist, counselor, mediator, comedian, role model, motivator, facilitator, creator, monitor, librarian, technician, manager, communicator, modifier, disciplinarian, evaluator, conveyor, assessor, surrogate-parent and professional multi-tasker!

Secondly, while I am responsible for teaching your student everything they need to know based on the Standards of the Department of Education and while preparing them to pass testing. I am also responsible for keeping students engaged, participating, and learning. However, I also need to be resolving arguments, breaking up fights, combating distractions, solving unanticipated problems, taking attendance, grading papers, e-mailing parents, differentiating instruction, writing recommendations, attending IEP meetings, attending faculty meetings, attending 504 meetings, attending re-evaluation meetings, scheduling parent meetings, distributing papers, collecting papers, answering the class telephone, bus duty, hall duty, library duty, placing grades on-line so you have 24 hour access to it. Oh, and I coach Drama Club too, usually all in the same day!!

Therefore, to expect me to know what your child is thinking or what other students are saying to your child when they are not under my direct supervision (for example: in the cafeteria, on the bus, in the hallway, in the bathroom, in the gym, etc) is out of the question. Although I am able to go to school full-time and work full-time while continuing to be a wife, daughter, sister, neighbor, friend, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, niece, cousin, granddaughter, and role model; I am not Superwoman and I do not have super human powers. Keeping this in mind. Please, before you come storming into the school after your child's teacher remember this: we are all human; so take a deep breath, wait a day (unless it is an emergency situation) and simply consider that your child may be telling you the truth as they see it, not necessarily the truth. Once you have taken a step back to reassess the situation and if you still feel it warrants a meeting then by all means e-mail, call, set up an appointment to meet with the teacher. However, confronting a teacher when you are that upset only makes the teacher go on the defensive and no one wins. And please, please do not bring your child to witness your verbal attack on their teacher, this only make it an uncomfortable situation for the next few months when your child has to remain in that teachers class.

This profession already suffers from a lack of respect, lets not perpetuate it. Most of your child's teachers are well educated, passionate, hard working people. Please remember that teaching is often a thankless job and we very seldom receive a "thanks" from grateful, appreciative students or their parents. A lot of the time the first time we meet a parent all year is when there is a complaint or problem. Unless you are a teacher, have been a teacher, or substituted for a teacher then you can not begin to understand the amount of responsibility we have daily.

"If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job"~Donald D. Quinn


Your child's teacher

P.S I would also appreciate it if you didn't run me over in the parking lot on your death proof mission to drop your child off at school, grab a coffee, and get to work, thanks!

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