By nature, teachers are passionate and compassionate people, but I feel like there are some Things Teachers Unknowingly Do That Harm Education.
When Teachers Say “I Would Teach for Free”
Well, this sounds nice, but would you really teach for free? If you won $20 million tomorrow, would you still teach? Many may say yes, but would you teach for ten, five, or even two more years? Would you put up with the school politics and unrealistic expectations over finding other ways to impact students? Or maybe would you get involved on a different level and on your own terms like volunteering. I don’t know. I just wonder.
So, why is this harming the view of education? To me, it is idealizing the motivation behind becoming a teacher. Of course, we are in it for the outcome, not the income, but when we make generalized statements like this, we are reinforcing that school budgets and pay do not matter, but it does. People need to value us as educators, but until we start speaking up about it, it is not going to happen. If we are being completely honest, I don’t think teacher salaries are fair, and I personally 100% won’t work for free.
When Teachers Act as if it’s Not OK to have the Sunday Night Blues
If you are the teacher who has a baby and has to take them to daycare every Monday morning, you might have the Sunday night blues. If you are going to a school where the principal is unsupportive and the expectations are crazy, you might have the Sunday night blues. If you are teaching a group of students who need help beyond what a general education classroom can offer and have got nowhere in your fight, you might have the Sunday night blues.
How is this harming us? Does having the Sunday night blues mean that you walk in mopey, unmotivated, and not excited to see your students? ABSOLUTELY NOT! That is a whole other issue. Yes, “teaching is tough and so are you”, but just because we are honest about our feelings and emotions, does not make us negative or bad teachers. It’s human nature to get the blues every once in a while. If you are one of those ones saying it’s not OK for teachers to have the Sunday night blues, you are basically saying that my reasons for being down are not valid. Just because someone feels blue, does not mean that they are not happy to see their students the next morning.
When Teachers Talk About “Special Friends” in Their Class
It is NOT OK to talk about students and mask them with a passive aggressive generalized name like “special friends”. I see teachers do this, and as a parent of a child who was that “special friend” at one point in his education, let me tell you, it is NOT OK. Another thing that is not appropriate is posting photos of students when they are having meltdowns or just experiencing something difficult. Over the last three years, I have seen three different photos shared on Facebook that has been of kids having meltdowns. You cannot see the face, but if you lived in that community, you could possibly figure out that child’s identity. Some will defend posting this kind of picture with social media clearance waivers through the schools, but don’t those cover the use of photos for the school district? I don’t know- I don’t remember ever signing or even handing out a paper that said I give permission for my child’s teacher to share photos of my child on their own personal social media profiles.
Why does this harm education? It’s unprofessional. We all have students with issues, you are not alone but you don’t need to share it on social media. I understand the need to vent or share teaching expertise with others, but you can do so in a way that does not involve actual photos or situations of the current class you are teaching.
Holding Ourselves to the Standards of Others Who have Unrealistic Teaching Practices for Mainstream Education
Mainstream education is different than charter schools and even very different from state to state and district to district. One teacher may have 14 students in their class, whereas another teacher may have 32 kindergarteners. One teacher may be allowed to stand on desks, whereas another may not be allowed to because their administration sees it as a possible danger. One teacher may have classroom blogs and websites that students and parents follow, and another may not because it is a violation of privacy. My point here is that you shouldn’t hold yourself to the standards of others, because we all have different situations as to what we believe and what we are expected to do. Likewise, if you are sharing things on social media, be aware that others have different situations, and respect them through your word choice.
How does this harm us as educators? Very few classrooms in any given school hallway are “Pinterest worthy”. It actually takes a lot of time and money to make those picture perfect classrooms, yet these are the classrooms we strive to be like. You have to think about the circumstances of those teachers you admire and decide if it is realistic for you, too. Yes, I love seeing these photos, and I do admire a lot of what I see, but I know that many of those things are not realistic. I do take offense when I see people on social media saying things like “send your principal to me”. I guarantee you don’t hold the magic formula to get all the principals of the world to listen about what is developmentally appropriate. Holding people to your standard just comes across as though you are the boss of applesauce, but you are not. Now with this, I will say that it is important to stand up for what you believe in, but I feel there are ways to do it in which you are not putting down our community or the thoughts, feelings, and actions of others.
Trying to Change the World in a Facebook Group
I am all about having critical conversations, but there is a time and a place for everything. Facebook groups are not the place for these controversial topics. I see this happening all the time in various groups I am in and have yet to see them ever end in a shift in mindset. These conversations always end with feelings getting hurt and (dare I say) cyberbullying between adults with differing opinions. If you feel so strongly about a topic, become an advocate for change. Speak to policymakers and change laws, arrange to meet with school districts, and organize your own platform you can share your thoughts with others who are like-minded. Be respectful of the purposes of the groups in which you are members.
How does this harm us? Many of these Facebook groups do have people other than teachers in them. They are watching how we act and treat one another, and bickering over things just does not look good. Can you share your thoughts, feelings, and opinions in a Facebook group? Absolutely, but do so in a way that is considerate of other people’s viewpoints. Don’t bulldoze, because that just makes others not want to value your opinion. Recognize that your passion may not be as important to others because we all have different VALID life experiences. And lastly, be prepared for your comments to be moderated by the Facebook group administrative team.
When Teachers Don’t Have Balance
This is the most important one to me, one I didn’t understand until I had my own children. Now, I am not saying you have to be a parent to be an effective teacher. In fact, some of my most inspirational teachers don’t have kids, but there is something to be said for people who eat, sleep, and breathe their jobs. It’s not healthy, and it’s unrealistic to expect teachers not to have families and lives outside the classroom.
How is this harming us? I want to share a story with you of a situation that happened that made me really think about this. I was visiting a school and the staff was all celebrating a teacher’s last day on that campus. When asked why that teacher was leaving, we were told that the teacher recently had a baby, and you cannot have a baby and work at this school. Teachers look up to this campus, but what they may not consider is the amount of time and the sacrifices this staff gives their students. These teachers eat, sleep, and breathe their careers. This school does amazing things, but they also apparently can’t have a family because of the demands while doing so. Knowing that I took a step back and really evaluated if this was a campus I wanted to look up to. It is not realistic for mainstream education.
Balance is important. Should there be campuses like this that do cutting edge things for students? Of course. Should there be teachers who dedicate their entire lives to their students? Of course. However, should we put these teachers and campuses on pedestals? I would argue not. It is not realistic to expect our profession as a whole to commit to these same practices knowing the amount of time it takes to create learning environments like that.
Things Teachers Unknowingly Do That Hurt Education, In Closing
Teachers are passionate people by nature, so I don’t think most of these things are done with the intention of harming education. However, I do think these points are worthy of some consideration. Just think, that’s all.
This is just a teacher rant- just one teacher sharing her perspective on things. Do I expect you to agree with 100% of what I say? No. It’s an editorial on a blog. But maybe there is something you can walk away with from this article that will help you. To read more teacher rants, click here.
Or head on over to Education to the Core for even more teacher rants!