A little intro: I'm not exactly sure why I'm writing this post. I guess I'm hoping for it to be a little therapeutic, maybe a little insightful. But mainly, I just need to get some things off of my mind.
I also want to say that this, in no means, solely represents my class/classroom/parents/school/past classes. Just a compilation of things from over the years and those things that I hear from fellow educators (near and far).
Each year I stop at the end of the year and I ask myself "what could I have done differently?" This year it's not a matter of teaching writing better or reviewing addition more often. Instead, I find myself wondering how I could have better taught respect. In those instances where I hear students talk back to other teachers, or be unkind to each other, it makes me wonder what we're missing. I'm a big supporter in the Character Counts! program at my school, but I've learned one major thing this year: Character is something that has to be taught at home first. I have my students for 180 days. While that might seem like a lifetime to them while they are sitting in that tiny desk, it's actually only a small piece of their life. The information that I squeeze into those days can only go so far. It has to be taught and reviewed at home.
I remember being terrified of my parents and my teachers when I was little. Not in a "oh they are so mean" way, but in a "I never want to disappoint them" way. I was a pretty good student. Sure, I got in trouble for talking, but I never tried to be outright mean to anyone. I know one thing is for sure: when I got that note sent home, I was going to be punished. Whether it was no TV, no toys for the week, no fun activity this weekend:, or (let's face it.. it was the 90's and it was allowed) a spanking: my parents followed up with what my teacher said. I've realized these past few years that I wasn't terrified of my parents, or my teachers... instead I respected them. And my parents respected my teachers. Where has this idea gone?
Am I perfect? Lord, no. And I don't pretend to be either. I have to google how to spell words in front of my students sometimes, I've had the occasionally typo in my weekly newsletter, sure. But there is one thing I've never forgotten to do: respect my students and their parents. It really takes a village to raise a child. And if there is no respect between the parent and the teacher, you can guarantee that there will not be respect from the child to the teacher. I can promise you, that when a teacher takes the time to e-mail you about something, we have done our research. We've talked to everyone involved, we've handled it in the classroom, we are telling you the 100% truth, but now we need you to help enforce these rules at home.
I've talked with many teachers over the last month about some of the e-mails they have received from parents. I wish I could teach an adult-ed course on e-mail tone. How you word things, the capitalization used, and the punctuation that is present, can all change what you are trying to say. If something has gone wrong in the classroom with a student, I type up the e-mail so I don't forget what to say, wait an hour (or two), get a coworker to read it, modify the things that don't come off as professional, then hit send. A teacher from another school this week shared an e-mail that she got from a parent. The parent was blessing out the teacher for her child losing a long-sleeved shirt. Keep in mind that this teacher tutors this student twice a week, helps him with all of his assignments, has brought him up 5 reading levels, and has given him the confidence he needs to succeed. But nevermind all of that, because she didn't locate the shirt he lost.
In conclusion (I've been grading too many essays), just be nice to everyone. A little respect goes a long way. And give your child teacher's a hug. This time of the year is crazy for everyone.
And just a little laugh for my fellow teachers:
What your school's phone system should really say: