When I was a child I respected my teacher as an authority and I got the impression that my parents did the same. That is no longer the case in education. Now we are all “partners” in the educational process and working as a “village” to teach each child. While there are some definite benefits to the concept that I embrace and applaud, it also gives many parents the idea that I’m just another person with an opinion and that theirs is just as valid, or more so, when it comes to their child. They tell me what I should be teaching (sorry, our other partner, The State Department of Education, is in charge of that one!), what their child likes to do, how their child usually behaves, and how many reasons there are for their child to not do their daily work, not cooperate, or simply not attend class. Most of the reasons involve my failure to make learning fun, explain things clearly, be more understanding, be more patient, and or be less honest. I’ve been told that my expectations for behavior are unrealistic, my goals for learning are too high, and my observations are too blunt. The other reasons are that children are busy, tired, sick, having problems with relationships, dealing with stressful home situations, playing sports, etc.
In my own defense and the defense of other teachers, I want to offer a few thoughts for everyone to ponder:
- A child behaves differently at school, in a group, with a definite task at hand than he/she does at home. A teacher is generally the only one in the village (parents, grandparents, teachers, tutors, administrators, other staff) who observes their behavior day after day in the same setting.
- If a child needs daily, almost hourly reminders of how to behave then they either have a very poor memory, a psychological problem, or they are choosing their behavior.
- If a child never suffers negative consequences for their action, they will continue the action. Dr. Phil says a person “does what works for them”.
- Most teachers enjoy teaching and enjoy learning. We want it to be fun and we want to motivate our students. However, it is difficult to repeat, “Johnny please stop talking and do your work” twenty-five times in one day and still do it pleasantly!
- While most students ARE listening, learning, and behaving here is what some are doing ALL day long (from one of my behavior notes):
Misbehaves or wastes time instead of working. Your child typically does this (circled):
- Purposely breaks pencils in order to get up and get another one.
- Cuts up little pieces of paper in order to get up and throw them away.
- Peels crayons and plays with the wrappers.
- Sits and stares.
- Knocks pencil box off desk. More than twice per day is usually not an accident.
- Falls out of chair.
- Draws on inside of desk.
- Plays with supplies: puts things on head, behind ear, in mouth, in pockets, etc.
- Repeatedly takes off glasses, ring, necklace, etc. and plays with them.
- Repeatedly takes off coat and then puts it back on.
- Sucks, chews on clothing.
- Simply refuses to pick up pencil.
6.While I acknowledge that a parent knows their own child better than I do, I would also point out that most teachers have the advantage of having taught 20-500 children and they are better able to compare and contrast learning styles, behavior patterns, and skill levels.
7.Children have always been tired, sick, and busy. They have always had family problems. I had family problems! Learning to cope with life is a part of education.
So…even though I have a BS in early childhood education and a Master’s degree in Administration, I often feel that I would have been better prepared to justify my teaching methods if I had obtained degrees in Political Science and Psychology. To tell you the truth, I never thought I would need to justify my teaching methods so often, to so many people.