I’m a parent, so I’ve I’ve been to my fair share of parent-teacher conferences, PTO meetings, Open Houses, Meet the Teachers Nights, Follow Your Student’s Schedule Night, Orientation This, and Orientation That. After years of attending these meetings, I’ve got some tips for the teachers.
Don’t complain about your job- especially to me. Don’t sigh and tell me how much you hate coming in for after hours meetings. You don’t know what lengths I went to to make it to your four allotted time slots this school year. Don’t tell me you’re tired at 6:30 at night. My shift starts at 7 pm and ends at 3 am- how about I call you when I’m done and tell you how tired I am? Don’t worry about me… I can still pick my kid up from overnight daycare at 7 am- I’m fine with napping five nights a week and only really sleeping for two. Yeah, you hate your job- my heart’s bleeding. Oh, and since I’m going to be late for work tonight to accommodate your schedule, I had to pay someone to stay at work and cover for me. Can I borrow ten bucks?
Don’t complain about being overworked and underpaid- at least not in this district. Where I live teacher’s salaries are a matter of public record, so I happen to o know that the median salary for a teacher in our district is just over $55K/yr. The median household income is just over $52K/yr. So that means that one teacher makes more than the “average” dual income household in our district. Your underpaid argument is insulting. You may ‘feel’ underpaid, but the numbers say you’re not. And as far as not having a lot of vacation time, the average US employee gets two weeks. I’m positive that you have more than two weeks off each year.
Don’t ask me to volunteer at your job if you’re not willing to volunteer at mine. I enjoy volunteering at the school in my kid’s classroom, but I have no desire to volunteer if my own child is not involved- and that’s exactly how the elementary schools work around here. So here I am, running photocopies, grading papers, and entering data on a computer. I can’t fathom how this is helping my own child. I think I’m doing the teacher’s work…. because I am. I finally got to a point where I said, “If you can’t come to the bar and sweep peanut shells off the floor at 2 am, I can’t make photocopies for your first grade class anymore.”
Don’t tell me parents aren’t involved. Are you kidding me? I run on no sleep so I can work nights and be at home for for the am and pm school bus, breakfast and dinner, homework and after school activities, then I go in to the school during the day instead of staying home to sleep, so I can work at night, so I can do it all over again next week. And then you call me to tell me that you see MY writing on a second grade math assignment so my kid will get no credit because he didn’t do it himself? Are you kidding? How do you expect me to help with homework? I get the feeling that when there is parental involvement you don’t like it, and when something goes wrong you pass the buck by blaming it on lack of parental involvement.
Don’t complain about my kid. There’s a technique called “sandwiching” when delivering bad news. It’s like the bad news is the “meat” and the good news is the “bread.” I understand that you may have bad news, but don’t be abrasive about it. You can say something like, “Marissa gets along really well with others. However, she often talks with her neighbor during class time. The other kids like her a lot, so I don’t want to discourage her friendships, but I do want to recognize appropriate times for conversation.” Instead of “Marissa talks too much. You need to tell her to stop,”
Act professional. You have an education in education, right? Act like it. Don’t make like a kid with a behavioral problem is completely out of your scope as a professional. In NYS, teachers are required to earn a masters degree- I expect a professional level of service from someone with a graduate level education who is employed in their field. My kid is not the first kid with a behavior problem, and he won’t be the last. If you have a problem in your classroom, take control of the situation and handle the problem effectively. That’s what a professional does.