Are you surprised there's only two things that bother me the most? I kind of am too. As I read through the drivel of a list that I wrote about in this post, I realized that none of those so-called teacher problems bother me. When I think about the national policies that are strangling schools, the curriculums that not truly effective, the rating systems and busywork (paperwork) that are pushing good teachers out of the profession, the low pay, the low-parent involvement, and the low funds given to schools in poverty...there's a lot of things that bother me. But that's all out of my control and I certainly don't complain about getting too many mugs as gifts.
As an actual teacher, I have a couple of complaints. Only two. These are quite possibly my two biggest pet peeves in education just because they lead to a slew of other problems. I've seen these problems in schools across the country. My overarching theory about education is that kids are kids everywhere.
Things that bother me as a teacher...
1. Parents who write their kid's name on the kid's homework.
Strange, right? My advice to parents is this: If you don't want your kid living in your basement in twenty years, stop writing their name on their paper. Your child is capable and smart. You tell me so every time we talk. They learned how to write their name when they were 4 years old. They know how.
You enabling this behavior of them not putting their name on their paper ASAP is exactly why my "No Name" pile overfloweth. You are keeping that purple bin in business. If you put their name on their homework at night, they will not see the need to write their name on their math quiz the next day. They will get a zero because there is no math quiz grade attached to their name. You will be angry about the zero (and tell me so). You will glare at your child when we discover he/she did not write their name on their quiz. They will take their homework home that night and you will write their name on their paper. The cycle beginith again.
My rule for the first semester is that no-name papers go in the No Name pile. Second semester? I throw them away.
2. Parents who carry their kid's stuff.
I spend a lot of time repeating myself. For example, if I were talking to Sally: This is Sally's homework that Sally forgot. It's not mom's homework. It's Sally's responsibility to bring Sally's homework back to school. Mom doesn't have to sit here and take the test, unprepared. Mom doesn't have to miss recess. This is Sally's job, not mom's job.
I always give the example of What if I didn't do something the principal wanted me to do? because we all have jobs.
This speech would come after Sally told me that her mom took her homework out of her backpack and didn't put it back in and that's why Sally forgot her homework.
This happens, with at least one student, every single day. It's always My mom took it out and I don't know where she put it. ALWAYS.
And it's totally a cycle because everyone this happens to is a repeat offender and it probably starts when mom carries the kid's backpack to the car after school. The kid, not being forced to stow their own belongings, is absolved of ALL responsibility and then is greeted at home with lots of snacks and playtime and extracurriculars. All while the backpack probably stays in the car or sits on the floor of the foyer, unopened.
Though, if you ask the child why their homework isn't done (on any given day), the answer is always I went home. I got a bath. Then I had to go to bed. ALWAYS. There's no mention of dinner, playtime, tv, friends, etc. It always involves a bath and straight to bed.
So when I see a ten or eleven-year old pass off their backpack to their parent the second they leave my classroom door, I get kind of agitated. I'm certainly not giving them enough materials to take home on a daily basis that they can't physically carry it. They're not trying to make a connection at an airport. There's no suitcase involved. They don't even take any textbooks home. The physical weight of the backpack isn't the issue; the metaphorical weight of what passing off that bag represents is very telling. Fair warning: If your kid is in my class, the first thing I'll notice is who is carrying the backpack.
Carrying a project to school is different. I'm talking about the day-to-day backpack. The one that holds 2-3 pieces of paper and a folder and a planner.
And I do work as hard as I expect my students to. This is my pile of stuff to accomplish over Thanksgiving break.
Parents, am I awful?