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.
"Thank you for telling me about your non-achievement.
Forgot the project I assigned three weeks ago, although I have reminded you daily about the due date?
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.