Some examples of teacher (mis-)appreciation

Thanks to the ever-awesome Nancy Flanagan, who in a recent excellent post about seniority protections linked to Kevin Bushweller’s 2006 article on burnt-out teachers.  Bushweller cites Carol Dweck, psychology  professor at Stanford University saying:

“Students need to feel that learning is exciting and that their teacher is completely devoted to helping them develop their intellectual skills. … How can this take place in a classroom with low teacher morale?”

Who would argue with that? If they wish their schools to be high-quality, Principals need to roam their hallways, listening for the dispirited or mean tones of burn-out. They should poll the kids from time to time too, one of Bill Gates’ better reform ideas. Once identified, the teacher should get immediate intervention, just as if s/he were suspected of physical mis-education of the children. The socio-emotional is as or more important. We cannot allow “neg-heads” to teach our children, especially now as we rally to “Win the Future.”  If a teacher’s morale is not remediable, counsel him/her out of the profession.

But given the negative perception of them by parents and the media, it is possible that these “burnt-out cases” have only accepted the public’s opinion of his/her job. Teachers do take a lot of disrespect in our society. There is a ridiculous list in the “comments” section after Bushweller’s piece. Mike,  a former teacher,  allegedly recorded these remarks verbatim after they were said to him by adult Americans in his 23 year career.

“What is your hang up on telling kids where to sit? What does it even matter where they sit? I think you teachers are just all control freaks.”
“My kid doesn’t do his homework? What do you want me to do about it? I can’t even get him to come home before 11 on a school night.”  
“You left the chalkboard eraser on the chalk tray. So, in a way, you facilitated him (smacking another student over the head with the wooden back of the eraser) so it’s more your fault than his.”

So, what’s your night job? Every teacher has a night job. 

“He’s failing Drama? Well, heck, it’s just an elective, it don’t count for nothin’.”
“You got (child’s name) in trouble cause you wouldn’t give him a pass to the restroom and he walked out. You can go to the bathroom anytime you want so the kids should have the same.  
(Student was to be picked up by 4 PM) Sorry I was so late but I didn’t realize (child name) wasn’t home until 8.
Heck, boys will be boys, y’know. Besides, you have a spare tire, don’t ya? You have to expect that being a teacher.
He took the tape off your desk without asking? Why did you have your tape there in the first place?Could you teachers walk him to his next period class everyday b(across campus) so he won’t get in a fight?
I tell him to work in his state tested classes and don’t worry about the rest of ‘em.
He threw an egg at you? I wondered where the eggs got to. Thanks! 
I tell my kid if someone punches him at school he needs to make damn sure that kid ain’t standin’ in fifteen seconds.
My kid has to come to school in an air-conditioned bus because he sweats to terribly. Can I have all your lessons for the year in advance so I can keep up with them?
He needs extra help, more than just afterschool help. Please send your teacher’s edition bhome with him every night so I can review it with him. He’ll bring it back every day…
So he tore the pages out of his textbook? Is it yours?
I need to see all the grades for all of the students in your classes. I just don’t think he’s been done right.

Looking at his list, I don’t doubt that Mike worked in an urban district, where the culture does not include respect for academic achievement. The statements are too precise to be false, probably transcribed from Mike’s coping journals. And if Mike decided he could no longer muster the resiliency to these negative perceptions of him and his job, then he did the right thing when he left the profession.

As another great Irish writer put it, “Too long a sacrifice/ Can make a stone of the heart.” When a teacher can no longer handle the poor repute and daily predations on his energy and peace of mind, it’s time to leave the building.

But if possible, acquire the excellent, positive attitude of Taylor Mali amidst the general disregard. His riposte to the un-appreciative public should inspire us all :

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