Recently I received a letter from a reader who is also a teacher.
This teacher like so many teachers, teaches because she cares.
If you’re friends with a teacher you know most of them refer to their students as their kids.
This teacher, we’ll call her ‘Marleen’ for confidentiality purposes, wrote this:
“Last week I overheard four of my students in a huddle. They were each discussing all the reasons for not getting their homework done. I pretended I was not listening. They were whispering back and forth that their parents had told them that if they didn’t get their homework done that the teacher (me) could deal with them (parents). One student went on and said, “Yeah, my Mom said Mrs X (me) is an idiot. She doesn’t know what she’s doing anyway.” The boys were laughing and exchanging not so nice comments about their teacher (me) . I removed myself from the room as I could not get my tears to stop flowing. Something I wish those parents knew was that I love their child just as much as my own children. At the end of the day, I get cranky with my own kids because I have given the best of myself away during the school day. I spent time reflecting on this and I guess what I can’t get over is how freely parents speak negatively about other people in front of their impressionable young children. I will embrace these kids again and show them love, patience and above all empathy. Words are powerful. Parents need reminders. “
I think the message here is: what we say in front of our children is important. They ARE listening.
There will always be teachers in our lives that we as parents don’t like or agree with, but it’s our job to be the grown up. Don’t put down or belittle people in front of your children. If you have an issue with the teacher, have a professional conversation with that teacher and if necessary with the principal.
If you also disagree with the principal, then vent with your friends when your kids aren’t around. I know we need to vent. It’s healthy, but be aware of your company. Marleen is right. Words are powerful and empathy is such an important skill to teach our children. If we could all see the other person’s perspective, we would have a broader sense of understanding.
We’re all guilty of gossiping or talking smack about someone around our kids. Consider Marleen’s letter a friendly reminder that impressionable ears ARE listening. We need to be accountable and be the parent. This message goes both ways. Teachers also need to speak kindly of parents. I was a supply teacher for a few years and I can tell you there’s no shortage of loser parents and teachers.
A few times I wanted to say “Oh little sweet four year old Jenny, you don’t have a lunch again or a coat? Your Mom forgot to pack it again? Well, she’s just all kinds of awesome isn’t she?!” Of course I didn’t use my outside voice. It would have been unprofessional and honestly who am I to judge? I have no right to assume Jenny’s mother’s situation. We’re all human and we all make mistakes including teachers, kids and parents.
Thanks for writing Marleen. Keep your chin up and stop giving so much homework;) Geez what do you think you are? A teacher?
*If you would like to send MF a letter (hate mail isn’t her favourite) please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your name will be in entered into a monthly draw for some exciting prizes!