A few years ago I decided to retrain as a teacher. I felt I had something to offer the profession. I went back to university as a mature aged student, did what I should have done the first time around and worked my arse off. The first time I stood in front of a motley crew of Grade 6 boys I realised that all the learning and theory in the world would not truly prepare me for the reality of teaching. Over time I got used to the challenges that a roomful of boys trying hard to out-boy one another brings but I never quite got used to the parent baggage that comes with the job. Parents do little to improve an already tough gig so for any parents out there here is my guide to treat a teacher right.
Impromptu Meetings – Do not turn up 10 minutes before the start of a school day and expect to have an in-depth analysis on the latest concerns you have about your child’s development. Those ten minutes are set aside for last minute preparations and a bit of healthy panic. Make an appointment like you would to see any other professional.
Teachers are Teachers – I once had a parent ask me if I’d be a father figure for her son, whilst that might unknowingly happen during the course of teaching, she was asking for something else, something that extended beyond school hours. Teachers are not interested in being your friends, they may be friendly but ethics and discretion dictate that friendships are not wise. A colleague of mine found herself in the unusual situation of being asked “how are you’re boobs?” by one particularly fearless and inquisitive Dad after she had come into school to show off her little boy to colleagues.
Be Receptive to the Concept That Your Child is Not Perfect – Teachers will not always give you the glowing feedback you were hoping for. They are not making these things up, there is not a collective school wide conspiracy against your child and they are not necessarily being led astray by the child that you secretly hate. Sometimes it is possible that your little cherub is just being a pain in the arse. A parent once contacted me to complain that her child was not selected for the school netball team, the fact that she was not very good at netball didn’t occur to this particular parent who vowed to “take the matter further”, insert expletive here.
Find a New Hang Out – Different schools will have different policies on this but at one of the schools I taught at parents would congregate outside the classroom about twenty minutes before the end of the day. They would have a little chin wag, wave at their children, hold their finger to their lips when their child screamed “Mummy!” and then repeat the cycle. Some teachers will politely ask you not to but all teachers would secretly like to tell you to piss off and chat somewhere else. Some parents take this to the next level and actually come into the classroom when you are teaching to talk with you, this used to send my pissed-off-o-meter through the roof.
Teachers Not Babysitters – Do not drop your children at school and wash your hands of their education. Teachers can only do so much and if you want your child to be the genius you’ve always suspected they are you must play a part in that too. Read to them, ask them about their days, help with their homework, come into school to help out when asked and generally share the load, you might even enjoy it?
Presents – I was once bought a bath mat to say thank you for all my hard work throughout the year. It’s an awfully big assumption to assume that you have an understanding of my taste in bath mats and an even bigger one to assume that I actually needed one; most people have that area covered. I don’t want 20 boxes of chocolate, again my taste in chocolate is quite specific and a box of peppermint creams will not cut the mustard. What I and nearly every other teacher I have known appreciate most is wine, give me a bottle of claret and your child and all their siblings will receive gold star treatment for the remainder of their stay.
Love Thy Teacher – Teachers cop a lot of flack. Don’t get me wrong you get some duffers thrown in but that’s the same in all professions. It baffles me that people hold such negative opinions of those who teach others to read and write. People who consistently give up free time with their own children to plan and prepare for other peoples. People who spend as much time with your children as you do yourself. People who do all of this for a meagre wage and not a lot by way of thanks just because they care and they can.
And just for laughs I was once taking a Prep PE class. I had all the little dears lined up and eating out of the palm of my hand (not literally). One of the Preps, a particularly boisterous young man, stepped out of line walked towards me and prodded my penis. I must have missed the lecture on how to deal with that one and instead gave him the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t have a full grasp of the human anatomy. He then steps back into line and declares as loud as he could possibly manage “I just touched Mr Ross’s penis!” A court case flashed before my eyes – “I touched Mr Ross’s penis today Mummy”. In order to negate this from happening I had to inform my female Principle and then have a meeting with the Mum. I think for two weeks there were group emails going back and forth titled “Prodder (I’ll call the boy prodder, it seems to fit) and your privates”.
As always linking up with Jess at Essentially Jess