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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Stop Teacher Shaming



I've been getting more and more annoyed lately with something and it is time to talk about it.

Teacher shaming needs to stop!

Guess what? I am not talking about the bad rap that teachers get in the media, or the way some parents/people don't believe that teachers have a hard job, or the way that many administrators bully their staff (Although this should be address also).

Instead I am talking about the shaming that TEACHERS do to one another.

Let me give you several examples:

Example A: Judging Other Teachers
Several years ago I got into a conversation with another teacher in which I ended up crying. 

I was telling them that I was having a rough year. My students are, for the most part, not inclined towards learning. I go home each night and try to figure out what will interest and motivate these particular children. I usually only take 2 hours to myself each night to take a bath and watch a T.V. show on Netflix. 

 I have had success in picking out books that they LOVE. They love to read them and talk about them, but then when it comes down to actually analyzing them, they refuse to put pen to paper or think. They also really like my music and prezi lessons, but again, when it comes to using actual critical thinking skills, they just refuse. 

I was explaining all of this to this fellow colleague and how I feel like the focus of society is no longer on education and I just don't know how to make up the difference in my classroom (I am in tears no less)

This colleague's response was, "Oh, I'm so glad to hear you do work at home, because I always wondered. I see you leave school each day at 3:45 and I wondered if you actually did any work."

This irked me to an extreme level for several reasons:
  • I spend each summer writing all my lesson plans ahead of time so I know what I am doing for the ENTIRE year.
  • I spend each summer coming up with new material/lessons to try to keep them modern and fresh (which has branched out to include spending most nights creating new lessons to find more engaging lessons for this particular breed of student).
  • I spend many hours at the start of each new grading period copying all my material for six weeks ahead of time.
  • Because of this, I am able to grade essays and written assignments during my planning period.
  • Because of my transparency system I am able to grade multiple choice tests in minutes, put them in the grade book, and hand them back before class is even over most of the time.
  • I hire students to update my board each afternoon during bus waves (bell ringer, journal question,  agenda, objective, etc...).
  • I RARELY, if ever, write referrals.
  • I usually don't have behavior issues in my class.
  • My standardized test scores have been well above the cut scores and in the 90's the last 4 years.
Yet, all of that gets ignored because I leave work at 3:45? That MUST mean I am a lazy good for nothing teacher. 

I'm sorry but even if I DIDN'T go home and do work, how does that make me less of a teacher? If I am getting everything done at school because I am organized, efficient, and have planned my time wisely that is somehow something to feel ashamed about? 

I was still stewing about this comment several days later when I went to a conference with group of teachers from my district. We drove a school vehicle to a location about 2 and a half hours away. 

The two elementary teachers that were with us kept complaining about teachers at their school who leave work to go to the gym at 3:45 and said, "I sure wish I had the time to leave work right at 3:45 and go to the gym. *I* have to stay at work until after 5 most days to grade papers and work on lessons. Sure would be nice to have such an EASY job."


Example B: Talking About Other Teachers
I worked at one school where a large majority of the teachers would constantly text one another mean things about other teachers, talk about other teachers at lunch, and look up other teachers on Facebook and mock their photos.

One of these teachers had me pulled into the office for a talk because she, "did not like my face."

I could write a book about my experiences with mean spirited teachers at that school (and maybe I will one day).

When I started talking out about my experiences, I realized that this is not an isolated thing. Teachers do this to one another A LOT, especially to new and inexperienced teachers (The ones that probably need the most support and lifting up).

Do me a favor, on Monday, stop by a new teachers room (or any teachers room for that matter) that you don't normally talk to and say something night to them....make their day! And maybe think twice before you talk about another teacher behind their back.


Example C: Telling Other Teachers What to do
When teachers TELL other teachers what they should be doing and that they are bad teachers if they don't do this drives me crazy!

A few years ago a high profile teacher blogger wrote a post about how teachers needed to stop fighting a battle with students with pencils. She felt that teachers needed to provide as many pencils/supplies as the students needed and be done with it. PERIOD. End of Story. If she had explained her pencil procedure and why it worked for her it would have been a different story.

I was completely taken aback by this post and have to admit I stopped reading her blog then and there.

One thing that I have learned over the years is that different things work for different teachers based on personality. A classroom management technique that I use might not work for another teacher and vice versa.

I feel that teachers should 100% be sharing thoughts on what works and doesn't work in their particular classroom so that others can PERHAPS benefit from it. However, putting a giant blanket statement over any issue or topic is just not cool. 
Example D: Negative Comments
Another trend I have seen popping up more recently has been the need to for teachers to leave comment on social media. 

A few examples:

Comment on a classroom rules post on Pinterest:
"Classroom rules, if you even have to have them, should be worded in positives as opposed to negatives; what the children should do instead of what they should not do." 

Comment on a first day of school activity post on Pinterest:
"Why is there no alternative for any kids with (Type 1) diabetes or food/dye allergies?"

Comment on a high school lesson idea on Instagram:
"Too hard for my 3rd grade kids"

Comment on "wanted poster for missing assignment" on a blog post:
"You should not show students guns in school!"

When I see these types of unnecessarily negative comments on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc... it makes me really sad. It makes me sad that another teacher decided to take time out of their day to pull another teacher down just a little bit. Comments or suggestions are fine, but shouldn't they be kind or constructive? Otherwise, what is the point really?

Can't We All Just Get Along?
I have never understood why other teachers want to tear one another down in this way. 

Aren't we all fighting the same fight?

We are all in the trenches together. Why can't we cover each other's backs instead of tearing each other down with "friendly" fire?

                                      







Thursday, October 27, 2016

Stories from a Middle School Teacher: America the Beautiful


America The Beautiful!
My second year at PEC a new person was introduced to my team. His name was Mr. Cacamatzin no one ever knew how to say his name and constantly mispronounced it. He was part of a work program from Romania (Because again, CMS couldn’t find anyone in the continental US who would work for their school). He looked extremely busy and mean when I first met him, but the more I got to know him the more I realized that he was extremely funny and sarcastic.

During one of the first faculty meetings of the year, Cacamatzin decided to sit next to me. I was fine with this because we were becoming close friends. This turned out to be a disastrous mistake. During the meeting the administrators told us that they were going to have to ask a lot more of their teachers. They were going to need us to fill out three extra forms every benchmark, and turn in lesson plans in triplicate, and a plethora of other things. Each Time they mentioned something new we were going to have to do Cacamatzin would raise his hands above his head and clap while loudly saying, “I LOVE America!”

The more this happened, the more people kept turning to look at him, and the more the administrators would pause to state. No one could figure out if he was being serious or sarcastic. He was being downright sarcastic and I found the whole thing highly amusing. However, I never sat next to him in a faculty meeting again.