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Gabby Douglas & Simone Biles: Hop off their edges

The Internet can be a cruel and unusual abyss of half-cocked opinions and bargain basement analysis, especially when it comes to Black wom...

Wednesday

Going THERE!


On occasion I make mention of the fact that I'm a teacher/educator by day. If you missed it, maybe you caught it under "About Me." At work I happened to have a free moment around my lunchtime and decided to check out an education list serve. A parent posed a question about how to handle a verbally abusive teacher. The story she detailed sounded like her daughter had not followed one of the classroom rules that, since this post was left yesterday, that probably has been in effect since the beginning of the school year. The teacher apparently was sarcastic in her method of questioning the child's erroneous decision. The mother, NOT the child--mommy said as much--found the teacher's handling to be sarcastic and now feels like her daughter is being abused. Let me also add that the mother stated she's an immigrant. EVERY response to this mother that followed bashed this teacher and called for her to be dealt with by her principal, and if not a satisfactory response, demand a change in teachers or go to the superintendent.

This particular occurrence makes me cringe. Not because I'm concerned about this teacher's future employment status, but because this rant only served to further prove how quickly we are to tar and feather people without investigation. NONE of these other mothers have a child in this class, were present for what happen, or even have a clear idea of what was said to the child, because the original mom's posting was kind of vague. This idea that teachers should be or are perfect is going to leave a lot of people disgruntled when they run head first into reality. Let me break this down for you:

1. Funny thing, teachers are people too. I know it's hard to believe that beings without wings are responsible for your children for 6-8 hours a day, but those same kids were trusted to the rest of you simply humans, so...go figure.

2. A lot of these lowly humans treat your children with more respect than some of them receive at home, despite what you think you're doing. [& if YOU are not the person who would qualify as an asshole parent, I'm NOT talking about you.] We don't know any better than you. Unfortunately raising children and teaching them can be baptism by fire for everyone involved.

3. Parents get to be involved specifically with their 1 to however many children that they CHOOSE to have. Outside of the Duggars, most people don't have a classroom full of children with different personalities and backgrounds or parental lack of expectations to contend with at home. How many times have I seen a parent say something sarcastic to a child? Was that abuse, or the standard way you interact verbally with your kid, in a language that s/he has come to understand, expect, and respond to?

4. When you ride public trans there are rules of engagement. When you go to a restaurant there are rules of engagement. When you go to school there ARE rules of engagement. It helps keep the peace and order so all those children crammed into the same space can actually take something away each day, despite their different personalities, backgrounds, and parental lack of expectations.

5. There are no perfect professionals. Sorry. I just haven't met them, in ANY venue. We all make mistakes, and with a little support and nurturing we can all be better professionals. I would love to be able to spy on the people who make complaints and see if their weaknesses are the same as those they've complained about. I personally don't call folks to task on things unless what they did was just so egregious that it absolutely MUST be pointed out in order to save the next wo/man from such an experience. Other than that, I just make quiet choices not to deal with people or support their businesses.

6. I haven't met a person yet who likes EVERYBODY they've ever met. Hell, I know parents who can't stand their child/ren TODAY, and who treat them that way. Children are people too, and there are GOING TO BE children that people don't like. Like a colleague once said, "I don't get paid to like children, I get paid to teach them." Sounds harsh but... Still, any teacher worth her salt can find a way to put an arm around that annoying or nasty kid too or at least smile in that child's direction often enough to "fake it til you make it." It's about respect. You can have respect for a person if you don't like them, and all a teacher is responsible for doing is respecting children. We do NOT sign contractual agreements to like them too. That's not even realistic.

One thing I think that's truly being overlooked is this woman's immigrant status, which could account for her inability to understand sarcasm as a nuance that is widespread amongst teachers Americans. Every teacher and principal I know is one of the most sarcastic people I know. The ironies of the education system make it almost impossible to control this almost instinctive response to the effects of the daily grind against the immovable brick wall that is the school system. Since the child didn't get it, though, she hasn't been abused. My guess is, if the teacher was truly being sarcastic, it would've deliberately been over the child's head so she wouldn't get it. The fact that this made it home at all means the teacher probably meant something specific, intending for the girl to correct the mistake in the future and the mother's immigrant status incorrectly assigned the words "sarcasm" and "abuse" to this situation. Whatever the case, those mothers coaching her in what to do are only further blowing this out of proportion with all their picket signs on the ready and news channels on speed dial. They could all end up in a worse situation like one I've experienced. White parent wants a white teacher for her white child after she begged for me as the alternative to the white teacher she was originally denied. White child is moved to the white teacher's room. The ENTIRE rest of her time at the school was hellatious because then white mom realized she'd gotten the wrong white teacher in the 96% black school. Oops.

Bottom line is that this is really a communication issue. If we all worked a little harder at more sensitive communication, sayeth the pot to the kettle, we'd find things run a little more smoothly. Since we all pretty much live selfishly, never considering the other side or try to walk in the other person's shoes, I doubt it'll happen. I'm pretty sure I've just opened up a can of worms... So, carry on, business as usual. Going to get my protective gear and get ready to field these blows.

Watch me move.

4 comments:

  1. Yes! Pumpkin this is incredible! Thank you for speaking out on behalf of teachers. I am not optimistic about none a this...but then again....I'm an Eeyore kinda girl tryinta build me a Pooh kinda world!

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  2. Amen! Sarcasm definitely does not translate. BTW my little sis teaches second grade and she says the parents are worse than the administrators or students. They're either nosy, careless or don't know what the hell they're talking about.

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  3. This needs to be shared on that educational list serve! You didn't open a can of worms, this the truth & it needs to spoken!

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