I was perusing Facebook when I found this post: 6 Telling Signs Your Child Has a Bad Teacher I became immediately annoyed. Really? If your child’s bored or disinterested with school let’s blame it on the teacher? No. That’s not taking responsibility for your child’s education. That’s a blame game.

Imagine spending hours on a weekend preparing lessons you’re excited to share in the classroom. You’re standing in front of the room, ready to teach your incredible lesson, and eighty percent of the class is sitting, listening, ready to begin. Just as the other twenty percent settle down, a student lets one rip, sending the class into hysterics and four of his teammates up out of their chairs waving their hands in front of their noses.

You take a deep breath, on the opposite side of the room, and stay calm. More time wasted. When you finally get them settled down and begin teaching, the phone rings and a student has to pack up and leave. Everyone shouts goodbye. You begin again and get really pumped because hands are in the air and they must be engaged, but when you call on a student to answer a question, they say they don’t feel well and want to go to the nurse. You stop and write a pass. The class takes it as an opportunity to socialize. Now, you have to pickup where you left off and try again.

About this time, a student enters the room with a late pass, crying, because whatever happened in the last class sent him into a hormonal tantrum. He’s yelling about what a loser he is, and suddenly the lesson isn’t as important as trying to piece together the student’s fractured self-esteem. With a silent audience you take off your teacher hat, put on your counselor hat and tell the student he’s not horrible, he’s beautiful, everyone makes mistakes. Your heart aches because he’s in pain. But wait…were’t you teaching a lesson?

You begin yet again. And when you finally finish, and ninety-nine percent of the class has gotten to work there will always be that one child who raises their hand and says, “What are we supposed to do?” It doesn’t matter if you had it written on the board, across your forehead or repeated it ten times. It happens–making you want to jump up and down screaming at the top of your lungs like a lunatic. You may even begin to think you’re losing your mind because five minutes ago your heart ached for one of the little angels and now you want to scream obscenities at another. Imagine this is happening on a Thursday and all week you’ve been up since 4:45 am. losing approximately three hours of sleep each day because family responsibilities prevent you from going to bed at 8 pm. You’re exhausted.

This is a normal day for a teacher.

It’s crushing–soul sucking because in your mind the lesson you created was going to be met with wide-eyed, amazed, students, excited to drink in the knowledge you’re gifting them with. Instead, you’re dealing with a plethora of behaviors, learning styles, and children who are more worried about whether they’ll have enough to eat when they go home than your assignment. Still, you go home and evaluate the day, learn from the experience and try harder the next day because you care about the students and you want to share your passion with them. Tomorrow’s another day. Another opportunity to make a difference, unless you have to prepare them for a standardized test. Well, then your awesome lessons will have to wait.

To the parent of the child who is bored and wants to blame the teacher, please spend some time in your child’s classroom. See what it’s like to keep twenty to thirty children engaged in a lesson before you begin judging a teacher for not meeting your teaching expectations.

Now, the parent’s point of view…because I’m both.

Your child comes home complaining again. His grade reflects his attitude towards the teacher. The teacher lost his work; the teacher didn’t grade his paper because she couldn’t read it or it wasn’t perfectly organized. He says she’s mean. He gets a detention for a reason you think is silly. You email the teacher only to be met with silence. Now you feel invisible which fuels your anger. Maybe life would be easier if you homeschooled. You know your child isn’t doing their homework, so you take away their cell phone but now your child is angrier and the little time you have together at home is filled with unrest. Why all because of that ### teacher! If she’d just make her lessons more engaging, your child would enjoy learning, and your home would be happy.

Well, I can honestly say in all the years I’ve been a teacher and a substitute I’ve only met one teacher that I felt needed to find another career path. It was obvious she was unhappy, and she brought that atmosphere into her classroom. She had bully like tendencies and a terrible habit of belittling the children. On more than one occasion I spoke up in defense of the students. Still, I understood her. I understood the difficulty of the job and how her need to control was preventing her from seeing the big picture. Students need to feel safe and cared for in order to learn. You can make a child sit quietly, but you can’t make them enjoy learning. Yes, there are some teachers that need to find a different career, but there are a lot more really great teachers than the few who give teachers a bad name.

The problem lies in the system, not in the teachers. Testing, taking away the arts and blaming teachers are three major problems within the system. The ridiculous testing needs to stop, and teachers must be allowed to create lessons they are passionate about. Testing turns teachers into frustrated babysitters. How can someone model a love of learning when they are forced to teach children exactly how to pass a standardized test?

It takes great skill not only to develop good lesson plans but also to keep a classroom of children engaged and interested in the lesson. When FCAT came along, most of that was thrown out the window, for lessons on how to bubble (don’t go outside the lines!) and exactly how to answer a four point question on a three paragraph passage. Remember to restate the question! God forbid if a student forgets to underline and number throughout the passage…. Testing bores teachers and takes away their freedom to do what they love. Find the main idea and author’s purpose and bubble it in? That’s why I’m here? I think the author’s purpose was to have the student develop a joy of reading and I don’t see that option under A. B. C. or D.

Parents, before you blame your child’s teacher for not having engaging lessons ask yourself what you’ve done to let your district know that testing is taking opportunities away from your child. Have you volunteered at your child’s school, teaching your child that education is important? What are you doing at home to teach your child a love of learning? Ultimately, as parents, we are the ones responsible for our child’s education. You can choose to teach your child to blame others for their lack of effort in school, or you can teach your child to understand different points of view and how to work with others to problem solve. Choose wisely, your child is learning.

My books: MYSTIC and ELLE & BUDDY


Comments to "Bad Teacher or Bad Parent"

  1. Kafkateach

    October 28, 2014

    I think most teachers can truly relate to your blog post. Thanks for writing! In my class before lunch, the only thing on my students’ minds is food. They talk about food incessantly because they didn’t eat any breakfast and if they did, it’s usually a coke and a bag of Cheetos even though our schools offer all students a free breakfast. Parents, try to feed your kids a healthy breakfast in the morning. That would help. I don’t think it’s a financial issue. If parents can give their kids two dollars everyday for the bag of chips and coke, they can afford to feed their kids a healthy breakfast.

  2. Jenny

    October 28, 2014

    And don’t forget that every single lesson has to begin with going over the scale and explaining what you have to know to “be a 3”.

  3. Libby

    October 28, 2014

    She had me until she got to the end and claimed that because of testing the lessons weren’t engaging. I thought the premise of the piece was the lessons are engaging but the kids are the problem? The contradiction in the conclusion blew it for me.

  4. Kate King

    November 10, 2014

    I don’t think blame is the answer either. I have been homeschooling my ten year old for 8 months now. I was one of those mums (not moms, we’re in Australia) who always backed the teacher. In the 5 years my son attended school he had 3 great teachers. I was so grateful for their hard work and dedication and I made sure I showed them by helping whenever they asked or by doing practical things to ease their load.
    He also had two horror teachers and the time he spent in their classrooms took a horrible toll on my son and on our family. This once happy, confident boy was full of stress, tears and fear. I didn’t believe it could be that bad (at first) so I decided to volunteer in the classroom once a week to see what was going on. That one day a week taught me that “school” has very little to do with learning. “Teaching” has very little to do with learning! Even the “good” teachers are crushing curiosity out of a child through the very nature of the system. Children do not learn by being “taught” or by being constantly questioned or prompted (even gently) to check what they know. Children learn by enquiry, interest & self paced exploration! Being forcefully herded into a classroom passively listening to a beautifully crafted lesson plan completely destroys any hope of that. Real learning is noisy and robust and full of energy/passion. It’s not “hands up”, correct answers, or completed work samples.
    It is insanity! What are we thinking? Entrusting our children for most of their young lives into the care of people we don’t even know! One bad teacher, just one, can snuff out a future.
    If you do decide to homeschool your son (and I hope you do) you will have to deschool yourself first so you can allow the space for real self directed learning to emerge. I hope you do…I think it would be life changing for both of you. I think once you were outside that failing, stupid system you would thrive and you would get to experience what it feels like is to inspire REAL learning. Powerful stuff 😉

  5. Sarah

    November 10, 2014

    Well said!

  6. Mikey S

    November 13, 2014

    What a great post and so true. I have been teaching for 25 years. My children have graduated and I have to say that I am happy they are no longer in the public school system. I remember my early years of teaching when students came ready to learn and parents expected them to behave in class. Somewhere along the line, our students have come to think that everything should be fun and focus entirely on them, their learning style, their interests, etc. And parents have a myriad of excuses for why their students does not do their homework or behave in class. In the last few years, all instruction has focused on getting students to pass the state test. Then along comes common core which says we must provide rigor and relevance. It is next to impossible to provide both to the students of today. I have 8th graders that find everything irrelevant and truly believe they know everything they need to know to survive in today’s world. The just google it!!

  7. Sarah

    November 13, 2014

    I am a teacher and of course I appreciate all the challenges that that applies. I completely relate to everything above. But when I read the article, 6 signs… I have to say most of that is true. If kids are feeling bad about themselves, are surrounded by negativity and are “suddenly losing interest,” that’s a really bad sign. No matter the challenges of the classroom environment, teacher should first and foremost ensure that they are building kids’ self esteem, never trashing it. In the same way that parents can’t blame the teacher, teachers can’t blame the system, the society and the kids’ home lives. Part of being a good teacher is figuring out how to get kids interested and working despite the distractions.

  8. Heather

    November 13, 2014

    An interesting read and if anything is to blame I feel it is the system and also people who go into teaching with a very power hungry mentality and need for control! Being a trained teacher myself I have seen it from both sides of the classroom. As a Mum to my children (one of which was at school for 6 years) and I can attest to the fact that there are many good (and some great) teachers who are totally restricted and crushed by the system as much as the children and they are leaving the profession in droves! There are also many who stay and try hard to work within those restrictions and make a difference (which is why many of us went into the profession in the first place!). It can be soul destroying to find that you are unable to help in the way that you wanted. I also have many friends in Education and not one of them is unaware and not frustrated by that said same ‘system’. As for the bad teachers I have to disagree with you as I feel unfortunately there are many and I got to work with a few of them over the years and see first hand the crippling effects of their conduct on many of our children – my son being one of them! I also remember as a child being on the receiving end through my own schooling of some of the quite honestly barbaric practices that teachers often resort to in the pretense of ‘teaching’! I have carried those hang ups into adult life that were as the direct result of nothing short of “bullying” at the hands of teachers (and there are many bullies still teaching so you are lucky if you have only met one!). Teachers are in an unbelievably powerful position which is quite scary in my eyes! Yes indeed choose wisely – our children are indeed learning and much of it is not empowering at all! 🙁

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  10. greg

    December 23, 2014

    Picked up my 6 year old after school. He was sobbing. Teacher said he bumped into another kid running to line up. “Witnessed the whole thing”. This happened an hour before I would pick him up. He had a broken arm above hos right elbow. Later on a meeting she said that he throws fits (why had I never been told aboit fits?) and she could not tell the difference between this and any other fit. I said, “you will call me first from now on.” She said, “oh by the time you get here I’ll have the problem solved. It takes me 2 and a half minutes to go 3 blocks to school, and a teacher, and mother of three who cannot tell the difference between an emotional outburst and trauma tells me she’s a problem solver. I said very quietly, and most sternly, “You will by God call me first from now on.” A broken arm for Christ sakes. I think I should sue. He suffered for over an hour. No one called us.

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