How to Treat a Teacher Right

20 May

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.
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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

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46 Responses to “How to Treat a Teacher Right”

  1. Marleis May 20, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    As a fellow teacher I love your post. I smiled while reading it……..oh so true!

  2. Wendy May 20, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    LOVE THIS POST! I also retrained as a teacher just a few years ago and nodded along to all of your points – especially the present one!! 😉

    • daddownunder May 20, 2013 at 11:21 am #

      Glad you liked it Wendy. Are you still teaching? I hope so we need good people in the job.

  3. Slapdash Mama May 20, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    I brought back a Guiness tshirt for my grade 1 teacher when we went on a trip to Ireland. He was rather chuffed. But maybe I should have just got him the actual Guiness! Teachers are amazing. Both my olds are teachers. They are the best.

    • daddownunder May 20, 2013 at 11:22 am #

      I would have been happy with a Guinness t-shirt, I love Guinness and its better than a bath mat! I agree with you, teachers are the best

  4. Fastlanedad May 20, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    Great post Matt. As the father of 3 I can say that we have never bought any teacher a bathmat but we have bought a LOT of wine over the years!

    • daddownunder May 20, 2013 at 11:26 am #

      Thanks mate. You can’t beat a nice bottle of plonk to erase the memories that were the last term. Your kids have probably benefitted from some favourable reports as a result of your wisdom

  5. Kell Kelly May 20, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    Whilst I am not a teacher I agree with the bottle of wine. I gave my sons kinder/prep teacher a bottle of wine last year to say thank you and she loved it. I figured any person who puts up with and educates a class of 4-6 year olds deserves a lot more than a box of chocolates (or bath mat. hahaha)

    • daddownunder May 20, 2013 at 11:28 am #

      You are my kind of parent Kelly, I wish I had more like you! The bath mat went straight in the bin

  6. Caz Makepeace (@MojitoMother) May 20, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    Oh yes. Can’t stand the boxes of chocolates. Give me wine any time. I taught at a school where this happened often, but then I taught in the States, where it was illegal to have alcohol on the school’s premises so I got stuck with the chocolates.

    • daddownunder May 20, 2013 at 11:30 am #

      I forgot you used to be Mrs Makepeace. How did you cope with the alcohol ban? I bet you had a stash in your desk didn’t you?

  7. Meagan @ Permanently Parenting May 20, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    From another fellow teacher… Love it!!
    Maybe I need to forward a copy of this to this years parents 😉

    • daddownunder May 20, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

      Not sure that would go down too well Meagan, glad you could relate

  8. Dominique May 20, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    My friend is a teacher and got given an IPad by her class! Tops a bath mat any day!

    • daddownunder May 20, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

      I obviously wasn’t doing something right, maybe inside the bath mat was an iPad? Thanks Dom

  9. Michelle May 20, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    Another knowing smile here. Loved your recap of the Prodder!

    • daddownunder May 20, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

      It scarred me Michelle, I’m sure all teachers have a story or two

  10. evilgeniusmum May 20, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    I have attended almost as many schools as there are school years (down boy – military family, not unruly delinquent – I was never caught). Means I have been exposed to LOTS of different teachers. Some I am still friends with today (weird, but I never claimed to be normal). As a parent now, I respect the balance teachers are obliged to master in their role (as detailed in your post). I also respect that not all kids are perfect. What I don’t respect is the number of teachers out there who are not “receptive to the concept that” THEY are not perfect. More parents need to recognise the shared responsibility in educating children. More teachers need to recognise that some parents want to. Your tips are timely (especially during Australia’s Term 2 Blues), however it still idealises the role of teachers at the expense of the EG parents out there trying to be part of the difference too. How about sharing a tip or story of one time where you were wrong (and perhaps the student was right) and how you managed that? I don’t want to hear it because I want to point and laugh (though inevitable side effect), but I would love to hear of just one story showing teachers as being humans as well – showing that they are just as capable of learning. I don’t want my spawnlings’ teachers to be perfect – I want them to be dynamic.

    • Denyse Whelan May 20, 2013 at 12:29 pm #

      Hello & don’t mind my reply when I’m reading the comments! I’m Denyse Whelan & have been in teaching for (wait for it!) 42 years. Here’s the thing, parents & teachers are “meant” to be supporters of one special thing.. Education of the child. I would cringe as a school executive or principal when “some” teachers would refuse to admit their mistakes- because? Loss of what? For some they always HAVE to be right. However, as each & everyone of us, in the biz of education of kids, is human..then we are all capable of mistakes. The issues can arise more when each adult ( teacher/parent) play “games” of “blame” so, my short but long answer is.. Yes of course teachers make mistakes but I would hope they are of little significance to the educational outcomes for your child. Essay over!

  11. Denyse Whelan May 20, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    Well well well, the people you meet and you still don’t know they’re teachers! I am loving reading your story! Hey, please come over & find my little new blog called Readysetteach.net.au. I started it recently as am doing Pre Service Advising in 6 K-6 schools for 17 teachers & couldn’t believe the help they needed to “get” how to find out more about being a teacher, finding a job etc! We definitely need to chat more! I’m @readyset2teach & have FB page too! Cheers! Denyse

    • daddownunder May 20, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

      There seems to be quite a few coming out of the woodwork in the comments Denyse, there seesm to be a disproportionate number in fact. Sounds like a very noble initiative Denyse I’ll pop over and say hi. Thanks for sharing your thoughts above too

  12. Carly Jacobs (@ladysmaggle) May 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

    Word my friend. Word. Had a very wine fuelled rant at Caz on Thursday night about this. I love this piece. Bring on the wine! Just… please don’t ever come into the classroom. Having been (currently still in) special ed this is the biggest problem. Just drop your child and leave. We’re qualified. We’ve been raked over the coals. We’re 100% government approved to be left alone with your child. Officially more than the parents are. It’s fine. Just leave.

    • daddownunder May 20, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

      I would like to see a follow up post from you Carly on this topic, sounds like you’d have plenty to say on the matter : )

  13. Mary May 20, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    I’m making the most of good internet connection in Kigali…Matt, I usually read your blog through my e mail. I’m a teacher and I know what you’re talking about…I’ve also drunk too many beers on a Monday…thankfully I didn’t have to teach today. Yep, teaching is challenging but also hugely rewarding, important and entertaining so I’m focusing on the ‘just for laughs’ section..my contribution… I used to have a mixed Year1/2 class where they got streamed for literacy and numeracy. One particular girl from my ‘form’ went to the next class each day for literacy. One day the teacher came sternly into my room with ‘girl’ in tow. Teacher looking very…stern (but I could immediately see it was fake stern)…child looking very…sorry. ‘Miss Goodwin (that’s me) ‘Janet (name changed for confidentiality) has something she needs to show you.’ (Just about managing to refrain from wetting herself with laughter) ‘Oh, really, well you had better show me then’ (Just about refraining from joining in the pending outburst of laughter) ‘Janet’ slowly but sadly begins to smile – showing off the array of sequins she had lodged between every gap between her teeth. I love children 🙂 I would like to add, we did manage to deal with the situation accordingly and then we wet ourselves in private. I’d also like to add I treat my profession very seriously but you just have to see the funny side…a lot. p.s Love you Matt, love you Anna, love you Max xxx

    • daddownunder May 20, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

      Love you too Mary and wish we could all have a group hug. Challenging but rewarding pretty much sums things up. Janet sounds like a total ganster, blinged up with a chrome grill! I would have wet myself too, I nearly did just reading about it. Whats your address Mary?

  14. Salz May 21, 2013 at 12:20 am #

    Some of these things apply for child care teachers too. Love your little story in the end. Kids know to much these days and they tell the hard truth but not the full story. Yes he touched your penis but he didn’t say that i went out of line and just randomly touched his penis without consent lol.

    • daddownunder May 21, 2013 at 7:51 am #

      Okay so it is a little bit starnge discussing my penis on the internet, but I did bring it up : ) Thanks fo rthe comment Salz

  15. coloursofsunset May 21, 2013 at 12:53 am #

    teachers have the most underpaid, under-appreciated gig in the world I reckon. I have a hard time with my 1 kid, no way I could manage 24 (of someone ELSE’S!?!?)…my son loves his teacher, which is a huge relief for his first year at school. We tend to do Zarraffa’s or Coffee Club gift vouchers as gifts. Everyone can find something there, even if you don’t drink coffee!

    • daddownunder May 21, 2013 at 7:53 am #

      Another good parent Aroha, where were you all when I was teaching? I had a cupboard full of peppermint creams and a bath mat : )

  16. Elise May 21, 2013 at 1:40 am #

    Bahaha at your penis prodder. When I worked in child care I found many toddlers likes to poke my breasts. I like to give our teachers movie tickets. Do you think thats OK, or I am one of those present eyerollers? I refuse to give chocolate because Mum was a teacher and I know I reaped the benefit of dozens of boxes of cheap chocolate at Christmas and Easter, and Mum barely touched any except the very best stuff which was rarely given.

    • daddownunder May 21, 2013 at 3:28 am #

      “When I worked in child care I found many toddlers likes to poke my breasts” – that sounds equally awkward! I think movie tickets is a great gift, you definitely wouldn’t have got an eyeroll from me. Thanks for stopping by Elise

  17. Angela May 21, 2013 at 1:53 am #

    And the blog posts I could write go round and round my head Matt. Love it. Especially the wine giving. I hope I can be bold enough to put a few things out there 😉

    • daddownunder May 21, 2013 at 7:19 am #

      DO IT, DO IT, DO IT! If you ever do make sure you send me the link, I’d love to read it. I played quite safe there were lots of other stories that I will keep in the vault. Thanks Ange

  18. Eleise May 21, 2013 at 2:51 am #

    Wow some parents are unrealistic! The bath mat present – that is kind of strange! Glad wine gets the thumbs up.

  19. daddownunder May 21, 2013 at 7:18 am #

    Probably a minority of parents in truth, its just that the bad ones stick in the memory

  20. Janet Dubac May 21, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    This is an awesome post! I like it so much. Every point here is important and I really enjoyed reading it. Thanks a lot for sharing this! I laughed a lot with the wine present. I will definitely have to try it out!. winks*

    • daddownunder May 22, 2013 at 3:37 am #

      Glad you liked it Janet and thanks for stopping by

  21. EssentiallyJess May 22, 2013 at 4:37 am #

    Bet all the teachers out there loved this! Glad to see I’m abiding by all the rules, including bringing all the teacher’s a bottle of wine last year as a Christmas gift. It was the first year I’ve seen every teacher be well and truly grateful for their gift!

    • daddownunder May 22, 2013 at 4:39 am #

      It went down better with teachers than parents I think Jess. Sounds like you’re the dream parent, wine all round, your kids will be getting A*’s all year!

  22. Kathryn Holliday May 22, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    Entertaining post Dad down under. Just curious how long we’re you a teacher for??

    • daddownunder May 22, 2013 at 10:20 pm #

      Not the longest to be fair Kathryn, three years and then I became SAHD. I met lots of great parents in that time too who ‘got it’.

  23. Lisa@RandomActsOfZen May 23, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    I have so much respect for our teachers, they do such an amazing job! I couldn’t imagine having the patience to deal with all those little personalities at once.
    To me, it would be one of the hardest jobs, a bath mat just doesn’t cut it 🙂

    • daddownunder May 23, 2013 at 10:32 am #

      It was a lot harder than I thought it would be and the kids were only one aspect; the curriculum, the parents, the facilities, your colleagues. Hats off to the teachers

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