Throughout our children’s school careers, we’ve had many meetings with teachers and there have been a few that have received emails from me. Our children have both had a few teachers just over the past several years in the former town we lived in that warranted meetings and/or emails, not usually for positive reasons, not necessarily because of our children’s behaviors or actions, but due to less than professional behavior on the part of the teacher.
Well, today I sent my first email to a teacher in our new town, but not for negative reasons. This woman is in her early twenties, a math teacher and, according to our daughter, a good one. Unfortunately, most of the kids in her classes did not do well on their first exam, in spite of the time she spent teaching, the offers she made to assist/tutor students if they needed it and other efforts she made. Our daugher said the test was not difficult for her and actually was closely modeled after a study guide that the teacher had handed out; the teacher even mentioned it in her email. Bottom line: there was no reason that many students should have done so badly if they’d put forth the effort.
This afternoon, this particular teacher sent her weekly email out to parents and explained what had been taught in class, how it had been taught, what happened with the class test, and what the upcoming weeks would entail. Based on what our daughter told me and what the teacher wrote, she seemed to be in a bit of a defensive mode. I sent her a quick email, including this part:
“I hope that parents will hold their students accountable and that the students, themselves, will do the same, rather than play the “blame the teacher” game, which seems to be more the norm this day and age, even when not justified. Once again, thank you for doing your job, doing it well, and for keeping all of us parents in the loop.”
I’m glad I sent her the email. This was part of her reply: “First of all, thank you for this. I really needed to hear something positive and so thank you for giving me that…. I’ve already seen so many students try to blame the teacher and their parents go along with it so that the student doesn’t have to be responsible for themselves. I hope that the parents’ minds will change soon and get their child to be accountable for their actions and schoolwork….Thank you for the time you took for emailing me. It really did encourage and help me see there are parents out there that still expect the best out of their child.”
This whole “blame the teacher” mode we’ve gotten into isn’t usually warranted, especially not in this case. Yes, there have been a few teachers who I and others felt were unprofessional and/or just horrible teachers who shouldn’t be in teaching positions. However, when you have a teacher who is good at teaching, who wants her students to learn, who puts herself out there to help them succeed only to have them not make the effort, do miserably on a test, then, with complicit parents, put the blame on the teacher, that’s just wrong and has to be discouraging for the teacher, to say the very least.
Unfortunately, new education policies are placing accountability more on the teachers than on the students when it comes to student performance and grades. It’s the whole outcome-based and standardization model of education we’re in–check out Common Core. We are getting to the point that when the class overwhelmingly does poorly, it must be the teacher’s fault. This may be true in some instances, but I bet that in the majority of cases, the students are the ones who failed to put forth the self-discipline and effort and both they and their parents, rather than taking responsibility, point fingers elsewhere, usually at the teacher.
What frustrates me is that here we have a young, GOOD teacher who, from the sounds of it, is already being attacked, not because she’s not doing her job, but because the students aren’t doing theirs. How many other teachers like her are out there? I hope she holds her ground, that there are more parents like us to back her up, and that other parents teach/allow their children to learn to be responsible and accept the consequences for their actions. I hope there will continue to be many more teachers like this one–teachers who enjoy teaching, who are there for their students, who want to inspire them to learn, and who will be able to hold their students accountable without fear of losing their positions because of a faulty system, lazy students, and/or faulty parenting.
I hope that more students will take responsibility for their education and how successful they are with it and any other endeavors in their lives. See, I think part of the problem with some of today’s students (and, perhaps, parents) is that they have gotten a sense of entitlement and have become apathetic in regards to education. Education used to be considered a privilege; now, public education is considered a right. Rights, however, after they’ve been enjoyed by several generations, are often taken for granted, regarded with apathy and eventually, at least in the case of education, excellence is thrown out the window. Unfortunately, if there is not good, accurate, unbiased teaching, along with disciplined, motivated, and responsible students, the result will one day be an uneducated, apathetic electorate who will either unwittingly (due to lack of knowledge) or out of a sense of entitlement (due to lack of personal responsibility), throw away their rights, their freedoms, just so they can have the easy way out, rather than take responsibility for themselves. That’s where we are now going…or are we already there?