April 28, 2011

Too Bad...

Earlier this week, one of the administrators posted a reminder to us teachers to watch what we say in front of students and parents.

In the hallway we pondered what the story behind that e-mail was, and which one of us said something that triggered an angry parent's e-mail to administration. We joked about the poor sucker who stepped in it, but we also wondered if one of us was the one who screwed up. Reflecting back, haven't we all said something to students that, when repeated at home, might raise some ire? I've had a rough bunch this year, and I've given a record number of brutally honest speeches this year. What have I said? Oh lordy...let's not go there.

Worse yet, in this late part of the year, as some of us are locked in gladiator-type battles of wills with helicopter parents, so goodness only knows what could have been said to a parent. I've been there, too, on a smaller scale. Early this year, I said to a parent that her student didn't care about his work, and that was why he did poorly on a project where we had multiple drafts. (The student should have been there to give his own excuses so I didn't have to speculate, but that's another matter entirely.) There was almost blood in the meeting, and after the meeting the parent was still ranting about me to other staff members, and later I did end up in the principal's office. My team's tough love approach does not always go over well...

One of the teachers in my hallway was able to dig up the dirt on the offending words warranted a reminder from adminstration, and she reported back to us during lunch that somebody had said, "Sucks to be you."

Oops, I should have warned you. It is pretty harsh.

I hope my colleagues will be more careful, as will I, when offering sarcastic sympathy for petty excuses.

Sonny, I remember when "Sucks to be you" was too crude for the classroom, but it has become a lot more mainstream in everyday life, including in the classroom. Nonetheless, we should soften our words our students.

No pencil?
"What idiot doesn't bring the one thing he needs each day? Too bad you will not be able to do your work."

No homework?
"Thank you for telling me about your non-achievement. Sit your ass down now."

Forgot the project I assigned three weeks ago, although I have reminded you daily about the due date?
"WTH is wrong with you?" Perhaps saying nothing is best here...

See? It takes some practice, but teachers should learn to censor themselves, or as one of my colleagues mutters under her breath as she's monitoring her classroom, "I will not say what I think. I will not say what I think."

I should take this to heart, too. I am harsh with my high school students (this "sucks to be you" matter was from my middle school), and in fact, one of my boys frequently comes in complaining that his arm hurts and he cannot write, to which I reply, "Okay, cupcake. Suck it up like a real man, grab your notebook, and sit down." Except for the cupcake part--I think he prefers being called "creampuff"--it's quite motivating for him.

What will become of my students in the future? I think of my them struggling against the hard, cold world, unable to stand up on their own, unable to take responsibility for themselves, and unable to learn from life's hard knocks. They take the wrong things too seriously and cannot laugh at their own little mistakes. Man, it's going to suck to being them.

7 comments:

Angela said...

I think the most irritating part of what you shared is your administrator's decision to issue an anonymous warning to 'watch what you say'. Management 101, people! All that does is create paranoia and spread gossip as everyone tries to figure out what warranted that directive. Why not just speak to the one person involved privately, instead of putting everyone on edge?

I had a principal who did that every week in our staff newsletter. The conversation at lunch would always revolve around trying to figure out who had dressed inappropriately or shown a movie during reading groups. Ridiculous stuff that didn't apply to 90% (or more) of the staff. It made me feel like a child instead of a professional.

So I guess I'm saying, I know from experience that it sucks to be you. Hope that doesn't crush your fragile self-esteem. Hah!

Clix said...

I can kind of see what admin is trying to do - cut down on the number of angry parents they NEED to deal with - but I think they handled it poorly. I'd've phrased it something like...

"As the year winds down, excitement goes hand-in-hand with stress. We take pride in our staff for behaving professionally even in frustrating situations! Thank you so much - it makes the last few weeks just a bit smoother."

Polski3 said...

Our stock response when students demand a pencil, paper, offer excuses for not having/doing homework, behavior, etc., is "I Understand." If we wish to be more snide and snarky, I say, "Yo Comprende." Its based on our failed Salzman Discipline/Behavior Plan.

However, what teacher hasn't had something misintrepreted by a student at home, resulting in being told to "watch what you say," or "to say as little as possible."

HappyChyck said...

Ooh! I heard rumors that what was actually said was more serious than what had originally been reported--and by a support staff member.

I agree that the admin response set everyone on edge, but I believe most of us rolled our eyes and moved on because we are usually very professional.

Oh, well. My close colleagues and I have had a good time telling each other, "sucks to be you" in the last few days. Things are still tough with staffing cuts and life in our over-crowded classrooms looking bleak next year and finding reasons to laugh at ourselves relieves some stress.

Melissa B. said...

Oh, the euphemisms we "educators" use, huh? I've come close to WTF a few times recently...OK, repeat after me: "Serenity now."

Mister Teacher said...

I've looked a kid in the eye who was whining about something and said, "WAAAAAAAH" and pretended to cry.

Of course, many things are being screamed inside my head every day. I have to clamp down a manhole-sized filter not to let it out...

The Vegas Art Guy said...

I have a chart in my room that has the class averages including how many A's etc... Instead of F's I had the letters STBY in that column. And when the kids asked what it meant I told them... 'Sucks To Be You'... And no there were no names on the grades just how many of each grade. I also lit up my 1st period class like a Roman Candle when a kid told me... 'I don't understand this poem so I'm not going to do it'...

That went over REAL well...