Sunday, July 13, 2008

Deep thoughts.

I volunteered in Kidzone at church today. I went to the 9:30 worship service and then volunteered in the 3rd/4th grade room for the 11:00 service.

There was a table in the room that was covered with paper and had an elephant on it (leftover from VBS I think). The session started out with a kid under that table, refusing to come out. One of the other workers said to me, "Yeah, Zach tends to not listen. His sister is Julia, she can usually get him to do what he's supposed to do." Nice.

Since then I have been thinking a LOT about the whole teaching thing and how frustrating it is and how there just aren't teaching jobs out there unless you relocate --- or unless you are young and skinny from what I've seen lately.

I am just so tired of parents not caring. As long as the kids are out of their hair, they don't give a rip as to where the kids are or what they are doing. The kids come to school/ church and do whatever the hell they feel like doing... because they know their parents don't care.

As a teacher I get so sick and tired of telling parents that their kids are having trouble... having the parent say, "Oh. I'll talk to him." and then nothing happens. NOTHING. And if you try to contact the parent again they don't answer the phone when you call... they don't reply to the notes you send home.. they don't come to conferences.... they aren't home for the home visit.... or they ARE home but refuse to come to the door and think you can't see them looking out the window at you.

Then teachers get the bad rap. If the teachers had better training... if the teachers were more highly qualified... if the teachers cared more... if the teachers did more... if the teachers worked harder... if the teachers... if the teachers... if the teachers.

The bottom line is... the PARENTS are to blame. Now you know as well as I do that there are some bad teachers out there.... folks who are only in it for the paycheck. Why they don't go elsewhere and get paid better is beyond me... but anyhoo... .there are some bad apples.

But if parents were more intent on being a PARENT and not their kids' best friend I honestly believe that things would be so much better.

I think back to when I was in elementary school... middle school... high school. Yes, there were kids who misbehaved... but if it got too bad they were sent to the office and the parent had to come get them. There weren't kids bringing weapons to school.... threatening the teachers and other kids.... disobeying the principal..... throwing furniture across the classroom... having meltdowns in the corner... beating the shit out of other kids to get their lunch money... or their shoes. And it wasn't because the teachers were better. It wasn't because the principals were better. It was because the parents cared. Parents cared about what grades their kids were getting in school... they cared about how the kids treated the teachers. My god if a child was disobedient to a teacher, the parents were mortified that their child would act that way.

But now... now the teachers are blamed for everything that is bad about children's behaviors. Parents claim that the teacher isn't doing what they need to be doing to accomodate the child. But who in the hell is going to teach the child that they need to be respectful? That they need to listen? That they need to obey? That they need to learn? Teachers can't teach those things. Those are things that kids learn from watching their parents. From seeing how their parents treat others. From knowing that if they are disrespectful at school, there is going to be a consequence at home because their PARENTS said so and because their parents follow through.

I just don't know if I even want to teach anymore. Maybe I just had a bad day today. But that kid under the table was under my skin immediately. It frustrates me when I tell a kid to stop and they don't. When I was a kid if another adult told me to quit I quit... and if I didn't... I got the paddle. But I didn't quit because I didn't want the paddle... I quit because it was the right thing to do. (with that said I had my fair share of paddles too because I was just a brat)

I have thought about going through the "No worker left behind" thing and getting another master's degree ... the one they offer is in Charter School Administration. I have never been fond of administration.. in that it's not something I really want to do. But then I wonder.. if I were the principal could I make changes that would hold the parents accountable instead of the teachers? I doubt it. If I knew that was possible... I might actually go for it, rather than just think about it. But the sad reality is, there are more parents than there are teachers... and the majority rules.

So the question is.... how can we make a difference? How can I make a difference? Where can my voice be heard? Where do I start? What should my goal be? How can I change the face of education so that the parents are the ones raising the children and the teachers are the ones teaching them?

Think how much easier it would be to be in a classroom full of children if there was only 1 who was a "problem child"... and the only reason that child had difficulties was because s/he came from a broken home,or had some personal issue... not because her parents didn't give a shit. How much easier it would be if a child had an issue in class and you called the parent or wrote a note home and had the parent actually respond... in a positive way.... and the child's behavior changed.

I know it won't happen. I know there is no way to get EVERY parent to care. It is just sad that so many parents are out there popping out children, raising them on welfare, and not caring what happens to them... and not caring that the cycle will continue on for generations.

As a teacher, the rewards used to be seeing the look of "ah ha!" on a child's face when they understood what you were teaching. To see a child take the new knowledge you had given them and apply it in their life. To watch the sea of faces eagerly awaiting what you were going to say or do next... what they were going to learn next.

But now, the reward is making it to June without having a nervous breakdown.

The kids don't get excited about learning... no matter how excited YOU are. They think they already know it all.... or they don't need to know any of it because their parents and grand parents are doing just fine with the little bit that they know. The only time you'll see a hint of eagerness on their faces is when they are waiting for the lunch bell to ring or the dismissal bell to ring... especially if it's Friday.

It's just so sad.

So incredibly, heartbreakingly sad.

1 comment:

Tonia said...

I do get frustrated with being blamed for everything, but it's usually not by parents, or at least not the parents of the kids that I teach. It's usually random people who are not currently involved in public schools in any way. That's even MORE annoying to me.

Most of the parents that I have do care in their own way. Some even follow through. I had the greatest mom ever this year. Her son has aspergher's (or however the heck you spell it.) and one phone call home was all it took to bring him back on track. She was a real inspiration to me.

Every year I have a mix of involved and uninvolved parents, or uninvolved by my observation. I usually try to let the involved ones inspire me and do what I can with the kid's of the others. Sometimes those kids with nothing going for them at home can shock the heck out of you.

My friend Jon used to say, "You gotta do what you can, not what you can't." It's taken me a long time to make any kind of peace with that, and some days I still want to scream. I guess that's what's so great about job sharing- built in shoulder to cry on!