Lola Lolita Guest Blogs This Week - 10 Things Teachers Want You To Know

45ccf902a31f2a52b889b136143983ae.jpg

Teachers are supposed to be somehow greater than human, welcoming and accepting of all; submissive to students, their parents, and the general public; and willing to do anything for nothing no matter how time consuming or emotionally and physically fatiguing.  It’s the job we signed up for.  Nothing less than perfection is acceptable. …is what a lot of people seem to think.

Well, I’m here to tell you that teachers are just humans who were crazy enough to think they could impact the world positively and so took on the responsibilities of doing just that to the best of their abilities, which means they’re far from impeccable and also not unlike people in other professions in many ways.

As such, I’m inclined to share the following.  Here are 10 truths about teachers that people who expect us to be perfect need to realize.

#1 We don’t like everyone.  Many people seem appalled to learn that teachers don’t like every student, parent, or colleague they encounter, stating with incredulity that “teachers definitely have favorites.”  Uh, yeah.  We do.  Does every lawyer, cashier, waitress, or doctor like all their clients, customers, or patients?  I don’t think so.  Chances are, if a student (or parent!) has ever uttered “suck my balls” or “this assignment is fucking stupid” within our earshot, we don’t like them, and rightly so.  Like any other human, the way we’re treated dictates the ways we perceive and treat others.  So get over it.

#2 I know we said we were totally going to grade that, but we didn’t.  It is physically impossible for us to grade every assignment or activity we assign.  It goes against all rules of scientific likelihood, plus we’re not superheroes with the ability to stop time as we see fit (click here if you’re curious about just exactly how long it takes teachers to do their jobs).  Learning isn’t about a number in the grade book, anyway.  Everything we assign is intended to help students understand and succeed.  Instead of worrying about how a task will impact their percentage or getting mad when they get something back with a check mark instead of a number value, students should try to immerse themselves in the schooling experience for once.  Trust us.  We’ve got this.

#3 We don’t believe perfection is a sign of learning.  Parents especially need to listen up on this one.  Not everything a student does deserves an A+.  If it did, what would be the point of the student coming to school?  It would mean the student already knows everything, rendering the learning process useless.  Learning is about making mistakes and growing from them.  There is something wrong with a student who earns a perfect score on everything.  S/he is either misplaced in the course or is chronically dishonest about her/his abilities.

#4 We know when parents do their students’ homework.  I try to impart upon my students that their writing style is like their underwear preferences; each person’s is unique, and we can tell when a student is wearing someone else’s.  The same holds true for just about anything a student hands in.  Students are often flabbergasted that I’m able to tell right away if something has been plagiarized.  Truth is, it’s easy to do.  If it doesn’t “sound” or look like something the student is capable of or normally produces, chances are it’s fraudulent.  You’re not doing your kids any favors by “helping” them more than you should or by doing their work for them, parents.  You’re actually hindering them and in many cases doing irreparable harm.  After all, how are they ever supposed to learn anything if they never have to struggle with it?

#5 There is such a thing as a stupid question.  We hear them daily.  Asking what one’s supposed to do after the teacher’s announced it five times, questioning if one has to take the test s/he’s known about since last week because s/he was absent yesterday, and surveying the class to see if they know that one guy from the one movie who was also on the one show in the middle of a lesson are all examples.  That’s all stupid.  Really, really stupid.  And we can’t handle it in large quantities.  So please quit it already.

#6 We can tell when you are high, drunk, or otherwise under the influence.  We weren’t dropped out of the sky yesterday.  We can totally tell if a student smokes an entire bowl before school or hijacks Mom and Dad’s liquor cabinet on his or her lunch break.  The same holds true for parents.  Please don’t come to conferences or open house hammered or blown out of your mind.  And if you can’t resist, at least pop a breath mint before corralling us into your psychedelic nightmare.

#7 That silence that fills the time between you saying something stupid, rude, or annoying and us responding is us replying with what we really want to say in our heads.  If I had a dollar for each time I’ve had to internally tell somebody to fuck off, I’d be hella rich.  We may not be allowed to suggest you shove sharp classroom objects up your rear when you attack, name call, or harass us, but you better believe we are thinking it.  Oh, boy, are we thinking it.

#8 It’s not our fault students have a lot of homework to do.  You think we want to assign mass quantities of work?  Nothing about spending extra time preparing the work, collecting it, and grading it appeals to us.  If parents and students want someone to blame, I suggest they turn to their politicians and policymakers.  These people are increasing the number of standards students are expected to master each year and are holding teachers accountable based on kids’ test scores.  The stupid elementary Common Core math worksheets, for example, are not our doing, people, so please direct your disdain to the powers that be.  Truth be told, we hate that shit just as much as you.

#9 You are not our only priority.  We have mad love for our students, but at the end of the day, there are 150 of them (or 30 in elementary school, which is equivalent) and only one of us.  We have our own families and lives to attend to as well, so have a little patience if we don’t respond to a phone call or email within 20 seconds of receiving it.  We’ll get on that as soon as we can.  We promise.

#10 Our jobs aren’t just about teaching.  If we were responsible only for educating students, we would be kicking ass and taking names like never before in the classroom.  Unfortunately, our time isn’t just for teaching.  We also serve as secretaries (making copies, recording messages, drafting emails and letters, sending faxes, etc.), maintenance personnel (cleaning desks, washing white boards, repairing tables and chairs, scrubbing carpets, dusting counters, etc.), PR reps (attending school-related events, spreading the word about school bonds, publicly supporting board of ed candidates, etc.), political analysts (keeping track of legislation affecting schools, contacting state reps, lobbying for school reform, etc.), data analysts (collecting student test score data, looking for patterns in data, brainstorming interventions to positively impact data, etc.), office personnel (attending staff meetings, keeping meeting minutes, distributing staff and student surveys, etc.), committee leaders (heading the school improvement team, organizing parent communication, maintaining AdvancEd accreditation, etc.), social workers (contacting parents, reporting strange student/family behaviors, providing monies for school supplies and events, etc.), and psychologists (counseling students, listening to struggling parents, reporting signs of abuse, etc.).  Please respect all that we have to do.  Just because you do or did attend school for 13 years of your life doesn’t mean you have even an ounce of knowledge about what it’s like to be an educator today.

What other truths do teachers want people to know?

rLazHQHRvCJwgzIwPlv4_sammichespsychmedsgravitar

 

BIO: Lola Lolita runs SammichesPsychMeds.com and plays on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Hobbies include introverting, determining how cheap the wine has to be before she can't tolerate it, and trying to sleep while thinking about that one embarrassing thing she did in high school.

Lola Lolita Guest Blogs This Week - 9 Things Teachers Want Parents to Know

chalk-eraser-chalkboard.jpg

Students spend a large portion of their day with their teachers — almost as much time as they spend with their parents. It stands to reason, then, that teacher-parent communication is critical to a child’s success in school and beyond. Unfortunately, career and life often keep teachers and parents from communicating as often as necessary. To help bridge the communication gap, I have asked a handful of teachers to share the things they wish parents understood the most.

“I want parents to know that their kids’ perceptions of education/school/learning are heavily influenced by them, the parents. If parents emphasize the importance of education, the kids will see it as important. If parents have the attitude that ‘math is useless’ or ‘teachers are stupid’ — even if the parents think they don’t voice these views in front of the kids — kids WILL echo or mirror their parents’ sentiment. If parents make homework, schooling, learning, and yes, even grades a priority, our job as teachers is more rewarding. It’s hard to play to a crowd who just doesn’t want to be there or who doesn’t see the value of a good education.”-Pam, High School English Teacher

“I think it’s important for them to have an open mind and understand that despite what their teens tell them, we truly have their best interest in mind and are not the bad guys. When they come into a parent/teacher conference, they come in on the defense right away, and that makes for a hostile environment. Look at all sides before judging.” -Erin, High School History Teacher

“I want parents to know that learning is supposed to be challenging, and that if their child has to work hard, that’s actually a good thing. Too often, it seems parents believe A grades are for those who try when As are for those who try and fail and try again. Sadly, it seems more parents would rather enable their child and blame the teacher or educational system for their child’s simple lack of effort.” -Miranda, High School Literature Teacher

“Students have to experience natural consequences in order to learn and grow, EVEN IF they have a disability. Parents can’t constantly rescue their kids if they expect them to gain the skills for themselves. If a student doesn’t write down an assignment and therefore doesn’t do it until after it’s entered into the grade book, they should have to take the zero or the late grade to teach them the importance of writing things down. If they are working and it just takes them longer, that is another issue. Let your students develop some self-advocacy; help them if you need to, but don’t do it for them.” -Lindsay, High School Special Education Teacher

“We do actually really care about their kids. We are just as vested in their education and are upset when they don’t do well and are so excited when they do.” -Danielle, High School Science Teacher

“With each passing year of experience, I more often tell parents, ‘Just love and support your child with very few, firm rules in place.’ Teens have so many issues to think about and are going through so many physical, emotional, and social changes that the last thing they need is to think their parents are angry with them all the time…. How does this affect learning? How could it not?…Empathize and sympathize and enforce the fact that they can make many of their own decisions, but they will have to deal with the outcomes. However, make it known that you’ll love them through it all.” -Renee, High School Special Education Teacher

“I want parents to know that one of the best things they can do for their children is to hold them accountable. I also expect them to hold me accountable as the teacher, in the same way I hold them accountable as the parents. That accountability has to be respectful, though. In that way, parents and teachers can have a cooperative relationship and can make decisions based on the best interests of the children.” -Amber, High School Math Teacher

“Two of the things I want parents to know are: 1. I know that they have the hardest job in the world and that they are doing their best; and 2. I feel privileged to be able to spend time with their child during this time in her/his life. It is an honor.” -Roxanne, High School English Teacher

“I want parents to know many things: 1. Teaching your child to be organized is one of the best things you can do to help him/her; 2. I need your input and feedback. I always have good intentions. Sometimes they are misunderstood because I don’t have a clear picture. I want you to share relevant information about your child with me; 3. I really like my job. Some days are harder than others; 4. I really appreciate hearing when you are pleased about something; 5. Feedback from high school graduates is really helpful; 6. Every situation or lesson will not be perfect for all students; 7. The greatest gift I ever got was a bottle of water and a coffee card at parent/teacher conferences.” –Melissa, High School French Teacher

rLazHQHRvCJwgzIwPlv4_sammichespsychmedsgravitar

 

BIO: Lola Lolita runs SammichesPsychMeds.com and plays on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Hobbies include introverting, determining how cheap the wine has to be before she can't tolerate it, and trying to sleep while thinking about that one embarrassing thing she did in high school.

 

 

 

Lola Lolita Guest Blogs This Week - The Theme? Let's Show Some Teacher Appreciation

teacher-meme.jpg

I am a teacher. Often, I have to repeat those words to myself. Roll them around in my mouth for a bit and let them slide off my tongue. Breathe them in and then out again.

In.

Out.

Let them settle into my brain, my soul, my heart.

Especially my heart.

I have to do these things because, in an age where teaching has been reduced to collecting data and preparing for standardized tests and completing evaluation paperwork and beseeching the public to offer support instead of criticism, it’s easy to lose sight of the reason you got into this job in the first place. To become downtrodden by the political and corporate takeover and decimation of education. To consider giving up and finding some other way to pay the bills.

I am a teacher.

I’m challenged with opening young minds to the world around them. With helping them see material in a new light. With encouraging them to seek out and want to know. With challenging them to push themselves beyond their comfort zones to learn — about themselves, about the curriculum, and about each other. Because in learning about these things, they learn about that which exists outside themselves. They learn about the human experience. They learn things that cannot be quantified and measured by governments and test makers.

That’s where the real learning exists. In the things that can’t be quantified and measured. That’s where the real teaching exists, too.

And the real teaching and learning? That shit’s hard, people. But it’s also the most important. That shit’s hard and most important because the real teaching and learning makes us uncomfortable and changes who we are as individuals. Or it should, at least.

That’s because the real teaching and learning — the stuff that students will carry with them for a lifetime — is one part grammar and evolutionary theory and memorization of important dates and quadratic equations and 99 parts how to live and breathe and survive and love in this world.

I am a teacher.

I’m challenged with teaching them the grammar, sure, and that’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination. But I’m also challenged with teaching them to be in this world. Teaching them to be critical thinkers, to be question askers, to be knowledge seekers, to be decent human beings.

I am a teacher.

I am not charged with shaping young minds but with teaching them to shape their own. I am not charged with filling their buckets but with helping them to fill their own. I am not charged with telling but with broadening. I am not charged with collecting data and preparing for standardized tests and completing evaluation paperwork and beseeching the public to offer support instead of criticism. Sure, that’s part of my charge, but it is not and should not be all of my charge. The majority of my charge is in setting high expectations and in encouraging and in assisting and in loving. The majority of my charge is my students. The majority of my charge is where I must focus my efforts.

I am a teacher.

And in an age riddled by the political and corporate takeover and decimation of education, an age in which data collection and standardized tests take precedence, an age in which numbers are more important than people, that’s what I need to remember.

rLazHQHRvCJwgzIwPlv4_sammichespsychmedsgravitar

 

BIO: Lola Lolita runs SammichesPsychMeds.com and plays on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Hobbies include introverting, determining how cheap the wine has to be before she can't tolerate it, and trying to sleep while thinking about that one embarrassing thing she did in high school.