Monday, August 1, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the Elementary Teacher

A few months ago, a parent of a child in my class told me about a fabulous blog called stark.raving.mad.mommy, which chronicles the adventures of a fabulously snarky, honest mom. One of her children is on the autism spectrum, so it has been fascinating for me as a teacher to learn more about how these students function in their daily lives.

One recent post that she did was as a guest on the blog Rants from Mommyland for their "Domestic Enemies" series... in which moms of various types enlighten readers about their biggest nemeses. I was inspired to create my own list of "Domestic Enemies" of my profession:

-Mr. and Mrs. Denial: These are the parents who refuse to acknowledge that their child shows signs of having an issue affecting his/her academic performance. No, his lack of focus and inability to attend to a task for longer than 4 seconds is not because he's "just a typical boy." Last I checked, your male genitalia means you are a boy. Your lack of focus means you may have ADD. (*Note: for the sake of being PC, it makes you "under consideration for having characteristics of ADD." Which is the most I'm allowed to tell you about your child.) My problem with these people is that if a child has an issue - be it ADD, anxiety, learning disabilities, being "on the spectrum", etc. - it will help them if the issue is identified and addressed. It doesn't just go away. Usually I am already accommodating the child for the issue he/she is having anyway!

-Mrs. Overreacting Worrywart: No, there is nothing wrong with your kid. He got a B on the test. Sh*t happens, and it will teach him to study his vocabulary words longer next time. If you meet with his teacher every time he gets anything below an A, he will never learn to stand up for himself OR to realize that he's not perfect. By the way, don't tell me "he's always been an A student." He's eight.

-Mrs. Call-me-at-home: I seriously had a parent call me to ask about a project due Monday on Saturday night at 9 pm. Saturday, February 14. Valentine's Day. For your information, I do have a life, and it does not include acknowledging the existence of my students between Friday evening and Sunday evening.

-Mrs. My-Kid's-Feces-Don't-Stink: No, your child is not perfect, and yes, she did in fact call the girl at her table stupid and ugly. She was not "led into it" by a ringleader - she is the ringleader. Oh, and by the way - MTV is not appropriate viewing material for your third grader.

-Mrs. Jones: as in, the teacher you feel like you need to "keep up" with. She has a color-coded, alphabetized filing system, her graded work folder actually goes home on the correct day every week, her classroom is immaculate... I could go on. Seriously, lady - you're screwing up the curve for the rest of us.

-Papers in my "To Be Graded" bin: I hate you.

- Clutter: It is very difficult to keep a room straight when as many as 27 people operate in it at the same time, with 25 of those being eight- and nine-year-olds. I can't even keep my own one-person mess straight at home - what do you want from me? It's like the piles of paper mate and multiply each night after I go home. I decided a long time ago that given the choice between straightening up my room for an hour or spending an hour planning an amazing hands-on, cooperatively-grouped, high-on-Bloom's-taxonomy lesson, I will pick the lesson every single time.

-Standardized testing. Standardized curriculum. Standardized standards of standardhood. Children are not standardized. Believe me, there are times I wish they were - my job would be a bajillion times easier. But they're not. So quit stressing me and them out by deciding how many bubbles they need to fill in correctly to advance to the next grade.

I'd like to close this rant by noting a few things. First of all, while I have had parents who fall into all of the aforementioned categories, they are few and far between. In my experience, 99% of the parents are lovely, supportive people who just want the best for their child and want to know what they can do to help you. Thanks to all of you who have enabled me to survive three years of teaching still ready for more!

I'd also like to point out that not a single one of the "domestic enemies" that I've listed is a child. Yes, there are annoying kids and mean kids and kids with "issues" - all of whom require patience and often a lot of extra time and effort. The reason I don't have a single kid to put on my list is that the kids are, in fact, the good part of the job. I will love and educate the crap out of every last one of the children who walks in my door to the best of my ability. I'm not perfect, and neither are they. But the kids are the upside, not the enemies. Any teacher who says otherwise is looooong overdue for retirement.


  1. You're right...this post is great...and so true! Children are the upside. I use to say that the actual job took place when the kids weren't in the classroom - the kids make my day.

    I also like the name change...The Upside!

  2. "By the way, don't tell me 'he's always been an A student.' He's eight."

    Bahahaha. So true.