Teacher Responsibilities And What It Means To Students
When I was a public school teacher several years ago, I had to deal with a lot of different personalities, both inside and outside the classroom. Sometimes it was frustrating for my good students because they were constantly burdened with the behaviors of a classmate that were, to say the least, completely unacceptable. On one occasion, I even had a child call an African-American girl the N-word in my class. Naturally, I sent him to the office only to have him back in his seat before the end of the period with no punishment, just “a good talking to.”
Based on personal experiences like these, you can imagine my empathy for the teacher, who wrote this blog at Miss Night’s Marbles. The original post, written to parents about “THAT kid,” the one who misbehaves all the time, may not have been targeted at students, but there is much that you can take from it if you sit in the classroom instead of behind the teacher’s desk. First, an excerpt to give you the overall feel for the piece.
But I know, you want to talk about THAT child. Because Talitha’s backward B’s are not going to give your child a black eye.
I want to talk about THAT child, too, but there are so many things I can’t tell you.
I can’t tell you that she was adopted from an orphanage at 18 months.
I can’t tell you that he is on an elimination diet for possible food allergies, and that he is therefore hungry ALL. THE. TIME.
I can’t tell you that her parents are in the middle of a horrendous divorce, and she has been staying with her grandma.
I can’t tell you that I’m starting to worry that grandma drinks…
I can’t tell you that his asthma medication makes him agitated.
I can’t tell you that her mom is a single parent, and so she (the child) is at school from the moment before-care opens, until the moment after-care closes, and then the drive between home and school takes 40 minutes, and so she (the child) is getting less sleep than most adults.
I can’ tell you that he has been a witness to domestic violence.
That’s okay, you say. You understand I can’t share personal or family information. You just want to know what I am DOING about That Child’s behaviour.
I would love to tell you. But I can’t.
I can’t tell you that she receives speech-language services, that an assessment showed a severe language delay, and that the therapist feels the aggression is linked to frustration about being unable to communicate.
I can’t tell you that I meet with his parents EVERY week, and that both of them usually cry at those meetings.
I can’t tell you that the child and I have a secret hand signal to tell me when she needs to sit by herself for a while.
I can’t tell you that he spends rest time curled in my lap because “it makes me feel better to hear your heart, Teacher.”
I can’t tell you that I have been meticulously tracking her aggressive incidents for 3 months, and that she has dropped from 5 incidents a day, to 5 incidents a week.
I can’t tell you that the school secretary has agreed that I can send him to the office to “help” when I can tell he needs a change of scenery.
I can’t tell you that I have stood up in a staff meeting and, with tears in my eyes, BEGGED my colleagues to keep an extra close eye on her, to be kind to her even when they are frustrated that she just punched someone AGAIN, and this time, RIGHT IN FRONT OF A TEACHER.
The thing is, there are SO MANY THINGS I can’t tell you about That Child. I can’t even tell you the good stuff.
I can’t tell you that his classroom job is to water the plants, and that he cried with heartbreak when one of the plants died over winter break.
I can’t tell you that she kisses her baby sister goodbye every morning, and whispers “You are my sunshine” before mom pushes the stroller away.
I can’t tell you that he knows more about thunderstorms than most meteorologists.
I can’t tell you that she often asks to help sharpen the pencils during playtime.
I can’t tell you that she strokes her best friend’s hair at rest time.
I can’t tell you that when a classmate is crying, he rushes over with his favorite stuffy from the story corner.
The thing is, dear parent, that I can only talk to you about YOUR child.
In other words, the public school teacher is confined by many rules and regulations and teacher responsibilities that go beyond the actual act of teaching. That means there is a lot beyond her control. When a fellow student is out of control, there is only so much the administration allows them to do.
While many teachers are able to manage classroom behavior and still somehow teach the material, it’s unfair to characterize a teacher as a “bad teacher” when they’re constantly dealing with behavioral issues. As a student, you can do a lot to help them out by focusing on the lessons, the homework, the testing, and controlling your own behavior while positively influencing those within your inner circle.
You have to consider the background of the student as your teacher does. You have to realize that you will never be able to make a bad parent a good parent, and that parenting has more to do with a student’s awful behaviors than anything your teacher or administration has done or can do.
You can only have power over what you do and what you are willing to accept within your circle of influence. And while that may not seem like much, it can actually have a bigger impact than you realize. So if “THAT kid” is making the classroom a poor environment in which to learn, try to be the kid who ISN’T a bad influence. Rather than joining in or allowing others to join in, take an active interest in what your teacher is trying to do and encourage others to do the same.
If you and the others in your class can take away THAT kid’s audience, then you may just find that your “bad” teacher is pretty darn good.
Ultimately, it’s about personal responsibility. As you get older, it will be on you to accept it and make the most of what life gives you. You have to learn to function at your personal best no matter what environment you’re in, and starting now will give you the advantage as the years go on.