*Make that Confessions Of A Teacher Former One
Teachers don’t actually enjoy delivering bad news about your kid.
It will not deter them from doing it anyway. It is a part of being true to the gig.
Your child was caught cheating on a test today does not equate to you are the world’s shittiest parent and I can’t believe the universe saw you fit to conceive. I am holding my white flag/sign over here. It says This Is Not A Job Review For You.
Letting you in on the fact that junior has exercised his or her right to be a completely uncivilized goonhead is not the highlight of our day, week or month either. Promise. Cross our heart, hope you don’t die (just that you get sick enough to not be able to come chew us out at the parent/teacher conference).
Moreover, can we discuss a way that we (not just you BUT we) can take this hardwon info and do something with it? Something that doesn’t include wadding it into a sharp-cornered grenade and pegging it at our greying head. Believe it or not, good teachers are fantastic collaborators. They want your help because think about it… You are the expert on your kid. Of course, teachers need you as part of the solution to your suddenly problematic offspring.
No, the behavior or learning issues are not a result of being trapped in the birth canal for too long. No, it was not because you drank coffee by the gallons while breastfeeding. We get coffee dependence too.
Some of us get so nervous about telling you that your kid is a closet-clown and catalyst for classroom mutiny that we rehearse in the mirror beforehand then practice the bob n’ weave to dodge the daggers you may or may know throw our way. Because we know that you think Junior is an angel. Maybe he is, maybe she isn’t. Maybe she just had a bad day like a newly shorn Britney in the throes of meltdown.
Here’s the deal. Teachers don’t get extra square footage in their mansion in heaven by lying to you about your kid. Please don’t shoot the messenger. It does you and your child a grave disservice in the long run to sugarcoat these things. It really and truly does. Cross our heart, hope to die but not before spring break.
Remember the time you raised your voice at your child’s teacher during the school conference because Johnny got caught cheating on a test? Remember the alibi that you offered him as he sat there beet red with guilt? We do. According to you (but not to him), he must have just been checking his already correct answers with the calculator stuffed sideways in his sock.
Or that time you sent that scathing email because your kid missed the end of quarter class party after they threw a pork chop in the cafeteria and blamed it on the timid, quiet kid who was too afraid to protest? Or the rumors you spread about our purported favoritism because your kiddo was never elected to the Good Citizen assembly for recognition.
And I admit that I WOULD NOT be making this confession here if I still actively taught these days. It could have cost me a future paycheck – the one I would’ve needed to sign over to my therapist after you were mean to me.
Truth? Hope you can handle the truth.
If you are an asshole to your child’s teacher, it will not in any way, shape or form benefit your child. Even a nice, fat gift certificate to Morton’s will hardly erase the damage done because the teacher will have already lost at least a full week’s sleep over you…maybe even a month. We are teachers. We are nurturers. Nurturers are sensitive. We will handle your child with care on their good and bad days. Please handle us with the same care.
For a little while, the teacher will try extra hard to like your kid to compensate for not particularly liking you. Then this is what happens, the harder they try to like your superbly enabled kid, the more they see …. YOU. Fruit metaphor. The apple never falls far from the tree.
For the longest time, I felt unqualified to write about this. I was either:
• A teacher who was not yet a parent
• A teacher and a parent simultaneously
• A parent on a hiatus from teaching
• A field trip chaperone/volunteer
So I have had an opportunity to stand on each side of this fence.
The tough truth of the matter is that when you are a jerk, your teacher develops a heightened sense of awareness for the jerk factor in your child. IT HAPPENS. It happens the same way that your car comes to a complete stop at a 4-way after having a collision at that same intersection a week earlier. The same thing happens between the teacher and your child.
So when you respond to your child’s teacher about your child’s acting a fool with something like “Fine but there will be no consequence at home if there is already one at school.” then you are cocooning a monster who is unafraid of any consequence or tools for incentive that we might be able to offer to improve their learning environment.
So while we may not want to do it- while your tattoo of a fire-breathing dragon does nothing to soothe our nerves, we will still deliver the truth about your child. The good. The bad. The ugly.
If you really do love your kid which I am sure that you do…If you really do want what is best for them (and for all of the children with whom they share this year of their lives in school), then find a way to team up with instead of against the teacher. It is a hard job. It is the best and hardest job on the planet. And I am talking about yours- not mine. Well, ours. Or theirs.
The Top 6 People With Whom I Would Like To Parent Conference:
In case any parents out there are looking for mentors….
- Louie CK (Comedian)
- Glennon Melton (Author of Momastery Blog)
- Tracy Moore (Writer, Jezebel)
- Your Grandmother- Because she gets it by now.
- Reese Witherspoon (She would probably have her kids even write a thank-you note afterward)
- Daniel Tosh (What do you even call his job? But only with his wife present for fear of becoming one of his televised Web Redemptions)