OK I know it’s the holiday season and everyone is supposed to be of good cheer, but again, I got frustrated and had to get this off my chest. I’ve been so busy lately that I am just now getting to sit down to write about it…
A few weeks ago, I was in the library doing some work. As I was working, an interaction between a teacher and student caught my attention. The teacher was going over incomplete assignments the student had to finish before the end of the semester. She points out what he had to do and tells him to sit at a table and get started; she was getting ready to give him an exam after that…
I had to ask
I made eye contact with the teacher and smiled. She smiled back and we started to talk. She told me she was a “one on one” teacher at an alternative high school for troubled youth. We continued our conversation, but were interrupted by her student who approached her and said his stomach hurt and he didn’t want to do the work! As they were talking, I looked over at the table where he was sitting and saw two pretty girls sitting there! All of the sudden, his “stomach ache” made sense. The teacher said, “Oh, so your stomach just started hurting, huh?” It was obvious that she didn’t believe him; and neither did I. She tried to encourage him to complete his assignments and as a compromise, she offered to let him take his exam the next day. He said no, he didn’t want to work and asked if he could go home. He said he was going to the bathroom and would be right back. She said OK. He walked away. She looked at me and rolled her eyes.
Been there, done that!
I felt so bad for her at that moment. I decided to tell her that I had been in her shoes and felt her pain. I began telling her a little about my experiences as a teacher. She explained that he is really a bright kid, and she really works hard trying to get work out of him. We got so involved in our conversation, that we didn’t see him come out of the bathroom and had walked back over to the table with the girls and began talking to them again! I brought her attention to it. I said, “Oh no. I’m sorry, but look.” I pointed over to the young man who was seriously “rapping” to these young ladies.
“Oh, don’t feel sorry for me” she said. “My daughter just finished her master’s degree in engineering, and my son is in his third year of undergraduate; he wants to be a doctor. I AM FINE.”
The truth is I do understand that…
She called her student back over and told him to leave the girls alone. He laughed and said, “OK, OK, I’ll stop” and went back to the table. We both watched as he sat down and did seem like he started reading over the assignment, but then after a few minutes got distracted and started talking again…
The teacher went over to his table and decided to sit there with him to make him do the assignment. However, after a few minutes she came back over to me and said, “He’s still saying he’s sick and wants to go home.” “I told him he should really try to complete his work, but he’s insisting that he wants to go home.”
Then, he comes over to the teacher with a cell phone and says, “Here, my mom wants to talk to you.” After a few minutes, I hear the teacher say, OK and then hands him back the phone. She looks at me with disgust and says, “His mother told me to let him come home.” Clearly upset, she starts packing up her instructional materials while she continues her conversation with me. “What am I supposed to do? I can’t go against his mother.” If his mother lets him get out of doing his work and gives him a pass, what am I supposed to do?” “I can’t compete with what’s going on in his house.” “Obviously, he messed up before which is why he’s with me in the first place. It seems like his mother should be supporting me and helping to get her son on track. She’s the one who’s going to have to deal with him later on down the road if he doesn’t get his act together.” “I just don’t get it.”
For a moment, I actually entertained the idea of going over to the student and trying to talk to him, but decided not to because by now (of course) he was back over at the table with the girls and it wouldn’t of been a good time for a stranger to approach him and try to reason. So I just thanked the teacher for trying and wished her well. After she packed up, she went over to her student said something to him and left the library.
I just put my head back down and continued my work. After a few minutes I looked up and saw the young student staring at me! I looked back at him and gave him the “you know you are wrong” look, as I shook my head. (I had to make some sort of statement to him; the teacher in me just couldn’t let it slide.) He gave me a funny look back and smiled. He seemed to be saying that he knew he was wrong, but glad that he got away with it.
So now what?
Frustrated family…. I along with that teacher and so many other teachers in schools today have had similar experiences. You do get to the point when you get tired…. It does start to feel like, as long as I get my pay check and my children are doing well in school, that’s all that really matters (and you really hate it when the frustration level gets that high)…. Of course we all know that it does very much matter that her children AND her students achieve academically in order to become successful in their life.
So I ask… What do you think of her response? Is she a bad teacher? Do you understand her frustration? Should she get out of teaching? Should I of taken the risk and tried to talk to the young man anyway? (Remember, it does take a village) Should the parent have allowed her son to come home? Was the teacher’s response to the parent appropriate, or should she have tried harder? (I don’t know what the history of their interaction is) What is YOUR role? Should our role as a community be to do everything to SUPPORT her (and every other teachers’) efforts and TRAIN the parent (and all other parents who need it) to empower and not hinder her son?
Big Sigh….. (Again)
Just some questions…. And hopefully some answers….
Have a wonderful holiday season family…. See you in 2012!