Dear Parents, It's Not Always the Teacher's Fault — It's Your Child
I love teaching. To me, there's nothing quite as satisfying as helping my students understand the material and enjoy learning. However, that job will continue to get harder and harder if we all don't accept the fact that children are capable of making mistakes. Lots of them. And what's so bad about that? Making mistakes is a huge part of growing up, so parents, I beg you — please stop blaming the teacher for every problem your child encounters.
By disciplining them for their actions or letting them take a low grade, you're teaching them something far more critical than if you had strong-armed the teacher into giving them something they didn't deserve.
I've been reprimanded by many of my students' parents for a variety of not-so-fun (and not-so-fair) reasons. There was, of course, the time I got yelled at for not giving a kid enough time on a five-page research paper, even though we were working on it for over a month. There was also the time when I tried to explain to a parent that it was unacceptable for his son to curse at me because of a low grade, and I was told that I probably didn't grade his paper correctly, even though it was turned in blank. My personal property has been destroyed, and I've witnessed countless fights and bullying. I've had dozens of students tell me they weren't going to turn in an assignment because they'll get a makeup sheet, which the district makes me do so that we don't have too many students failing. These examples are just a drop in the bucket of everyday experiences teachers face, regardless of school districts, classes being taught, or years in the profession.
Talk to any teacher, and I promise you, they'll have some stories to tell of kids misbehaving (this book really gets into what it's like to have every single decision questioned by children, parents, and administration). It wears on you, and after a while, it starts to eat away at your desire to teach.
And I'm definitely not saying that all teachers are perfect. Some are burnt out, some are lazy, and some just do not care. And yes, sometimes we do make mistakes that we should always own up to. However, those rarities are few and far between, because no one should stay in this profession if they don't genuinely love what they do, and that includes doing everything they can to make sure their students succeed. Yes, the money isn't going to entice people to stay, but all teachers are asking for is a little help and understanding from parents. We're on the same team. We want the same things for your child, even if that means we have to give them a bad grade or be a little hard on them sometimes. That's how they learn.
When we call to inform you that your child shoved someone on the playground, your first reaction shouldn't be to admonish our ability to watch your children. And if your kid forgot to do their big project on time, don't ask for an extension. By disciplining them for their actions or letting them take a low grade, you're teaching them something far more critical than if you had strong-armed the teacher into giving them something they didn't deserve.
What children deserve most of all is the freedom to fail and learn from their mistakes. Force them to step outside of their comfort zones, put in the hard work, and learn that being kind to others is worth the effort. Everyone gets angry, forgets something, or does something wrong from time to time, and children are no different. Teachers can't do their jobs if parents and children don't do theirs.