Dear Parents ~ Don't Be a Jerk
It’s that time of year, after the holidays when the school year settles into the season of “The Long Haul”. Trust me, it’s an official term. The time after the holidays and before spring vacation is a barren stretch of cold winter days, before the promise of spring with warmer weather, more daylight and some extended time with family. I know it can be difficult to reestablish that routine of school, homework and So. Many. Responsibilities. The grumbling about the school year, the school district, the school itself or even teachers begins to grow louder with each long week. Before you start letting the grumpiness escape into the open, please try to remember a few things.
Teachers have families themselves. Before the school day starts, I have my own kids to get out of bed, dressed, fed and ready to leave the house. There are pets to feed, lunches to make and permission slips to sign. After school we have extra-curricular activities to shuttle kids to, games to watch (and sometimes coach), homework to get finished, and reading to listen to. There’s also dinner to make, a workout to squeeze in (if I’m lucky), a pile of laundry to tackle (it’s more like a mountain) and housework (what’s that?) to maintain. What I’m saying is I understand what it's like to be busy. We’re all barely keeping our heads above water. If I had a quick fix to the busyness, I would be rich (and on a beach somewhere with a drink in hand and my toes in the sand) but I don’t unfortunately. The reading every night, homework and signing of (insert the many requests for your John Hancock) is important to your child’s education. We honestly don’t sit around plotting ways to make your lives more difficult. Please, help us out and make those things important.
Attendance is important. Don’t get me wrong here… I don’t want you sending your child to school sick because I get sneezed on more times than I can count. And schools request doctor’s notes because regrettably some parents keep their kids home for days on end when they could be at school (insert sarcastic gasp). But having your child at school is the only way to ensure they will get the direct instruction that is imperative to their learning. It can’t be easily replaced with a packet of missed work. I promise I give my best teaching and learning strategies that I spent six years of college studying, so that’s why attendance is important. I also understand how hard it is when your kids are sick. Most of the time, I don’t even get to be with my own kids when they are sick. My husband or the grandparents usually help out and that honestly sucks not to be there for them. But sometimes my kids miss out so I can be there for yours.
Now a little about the cuss world of the education world… common core. If you talk to most teachers, no one asked us if we thought this type of curriculum was best for kids. We just get told to teach it. We are mandated to teach what our school, district or state has chosen and we don’t have a choice. I can also promise you that most do their absolute best to instruct your children. Complaining to us about it or to others about us teaching it, however, is not going to change the system. Talk to your state or district representatives and work on change there, but please don’t tell me all the time I spend trying to help your child is a waste.
Lastly, don’t complain that your child’s teacher doesn’t do enough. Checking your child’s grades and reporting to you daily, or writing out what your child did in class, or has for missing work or many other requests can get extremely time consuming. If you take the three minutes it would take me to check and write it out if I’m not interrupted fifteen times by students asking for help, and multiply that by the twenty-seven kids in my class…81 minutes of missed instruction for the day. We really want to give our students as much individual time as possible but that isn’t a worthwhile use of our time to be honest. Thankfully we live in the time of technology where most of those issues can be looked up online (at least in my school district). Or, offer to come into class at the end of the day and get needed information. Even better, come help out in the classroom and witness the chaos of being asked umpteen questions at the same time while teaching a lesson, grading papers and reading an email.
I hope this doesn’t come across as harsh, but sometimes the truth is just that. I can promise you this… we do our job for one reason above all others. Your child. We love the kids in our classrooms and want nothing more than to see them succeed. We love watching their little minds churn with new information and see that light bulb of comprehension click in their shining eyes. Spending our days with them is exhausting, frustrating and sometimes very depressing, but also rewarding, encouraging and to me, provides hope for the future. Just please, don’t be a jerk!
Tiffany Picotte is a proud military wife and mother, sharing about our crazy life in the hopes of providing some entertainment and maybe a little inspiration. She wants to be a writer when she grows up, but in the meantime, has been a teacher for 19 years. You can read more at www.tiffanypicotte.com.