Tag Archives: elementary teachers

12 Things Only Retiring Teachers Can Say to Parents

For the most part teachers are lay low and go with the flow people. Even when they are abused and misused, they tend to keep their mouths shut and go quietly about their business. It’s not that they are spineless or apathetic; it’s about survival. In a world that regards teachers as a “dime a dozen,” teachers have learned staying under the radar helps ensure job security. Most teachers have a spouse and children at home who like having a roof over their heads, food on the table, and Walmart clothes on their backs, so teachers are reluctant to cause trouble since keeping their job is a must. Also, for the majority of teachers, teaching is not just a job. It is a profession they enjoy immensely and would like to continue until they retire, so they do whatever they need to do or roll with whatever they need to roll with to make it to retirement.

However, even people who need job security and love their profession can be pushed to a breaking point and snap like an over-wound rubber band.   Fortunately, patience is a key teacher characteristic, so although they may go home and cry themselves to sleep and drive their family crazy with uncontrollable hysterical ravings, teachers seldom snap, and when they do, they rarely go postal. They are more likely to push back by showing up at school one day decked out in tennis shoes, jeans, and a V-neck tie-dyed t-shirt that displays ample cleavage.  If they snap with a parent, they might get really bold and say something like, “You’re right, we wouldn’t want to do anything to over stress your sweet baby, so I am going to tear up that old nasty assignment and give him an A,” or “I don’t know what I was thinking with such overly high expectations. That was really inconsiderate of your child and your family on my part.” Such patronizingly simple jabs tend to slide over the heads of many parents or flow unobstructed through one ear and out the other, which for teachers is frustrating and job saving at the same time. Teachers would really like to say, “If you would make your child get off his butt and study, neither one of you would be so stressed,” or “Obviously, my expectations have exceeded you and your child’s functional intellectual capacity.” But, after years of practiced constraint and civility, teachers don’t say what they really would like to say because they like and need their teaching job.

Teachers might be brave and rebellious enough to openly “dis” the faculty dress code, but telling a parent what is actually on their minds would be a stretch even for a teacher who has snapped. Teachers might think it, but they are not geared to be directly confrontational, so they bite their lip and walk away. They are very selective about the battles they fight, which are generally very few. They are much more likely to unload at home than they are on the job. However, God in his infinite wisdom provided teachers the perfect opportunity to unload on the job – RETIREMENT! Retirement is the emancipation of a teacher’s soul and spirit. Once they say the magic words, “I am retiring,” IT IS ON! At that point, it becomes their choice whether they remain docile and polite or let their hair down and go for the jugular. What can the establishment or parents do if a retiring teacher speaks his/her mind – FIRE them? Well, maybe, but it is not likely. However, after years of engineered submissiveness, few retiring teachers exercise the freedom to tell parents what is really on their minds, but if they did, it might not be strange to hear them say . . . .

  1. Yes, I need volunteers in my classroom, but not you;
  2. Your child is at a stage of his life where he must decide on a career or prison;
  3. Your child needs me more than I need him;
  4. Sure, your child can take the test over if he does poorly. How about this time next year?
  5. What is the best way for you to help your child with her classwork? How about stop texting her during class?
  6. I agree your child is not a bully. He’s a predator;
  7. Why did I give your child an F on his test? Well, instead of grading on a traditional Bell Curve, I decided to grade on a Color Curve, and your child was wearing the wrong color that day;
  8. Your child’s inability to pass is not a teaching problem. It’s a DNA problem;
  9. Like you, I want what is best for your child, and it is best for you to take your child home and never bring him back here again;
  10. I believe homeschool is the best option for you and your child since I don’t believe I have ever heard of anyone failing homeschool;
  11. I was very impressed with your coloring on your child’s project; and
  12. Go ahead and call the superintendent. He and I had a great discussion about you and your child last night over at couple of beers at Chili’s.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on the side of the creek where you stand, retiring teachers are not likely to utter any of these. They might be able to get away with saying such things, but a teacher who has spent twenty-five plus years doing what is right for kids is not likely to display such an acid tongue. With very few exceptions, retiring teachers will continue to bite their tongues and talk with kids and parents as they always have – with compassion, understanding, and class. Why? That is how teachers are made.

JL

©Jack Linton, PhD   January 9, 2016

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Little Smiles, Big Hugs, and Huge Celebrations

Last week I spent four days in two elementary schools assisting with implementing professional learning communities. I always enjoy visiting elementary schools because other than an occasional “I want my mama!” tantrum wailing down the halls, elementary schools tend to be some of the happiest places on earth. There are little smiles, big hugs, and huge celebrations around every corner. There are knee high little people constantly pulling at your pants leg asking, “Who are you? Are you the president? Do you know Santa Claus? You look like Santa Claus,” and there is always at least one child who will offer you his foot, so you can tie his shoe. The neat thing is that after the shoe is tied, you can expect an appreciative hug that leaves a trail of snot down the arm of your jacket to the knees of your pants, but I have always been of the opinion that hugs are always worth a little snot.

The smiles and hugs alone make visiting elementary schools a joy, but when you add the never ending celebrations, the result is what Mardi Gras must look like in heaven. I mean these little people know how to party! You have not lived until you witness five and six year old children celebrate Caterpillar and Earthworm Month, or join them for Hotdog Week in the lunchroom. Whoever said a hotdog and an earthworm won’t fit on the same bun with ketchup has never witnessed the ingenuity of a six year old. There is also nothing quite as fascinating as watching a five year old try to lick ketchup off his chin before it drips onto his shirt, and when he fails, not missing a beat as he lifts his shirt to lick it clean.

The ones that I am most impressed with though are elementary teachers. Day after day, week after week, month after month, they find something for their children to celebrate. Walk into your nearest elementary school, and I guarantee you will see posters and decorations touting “Toot and Tell It Month,” “National Pickle Day,” or “Bring a Goat to School Week.” The list goes on and on and on. I would almost be willing to bet that other than Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter the list is so extensive that the teachers rarely ever have a need to repeat a celebration. I mean these folks celebrate any and everything! They can make a celebration out of a broken egg yolk.

Now, I admit as an educator coming from a high school background, I was once shocked at the level of commitment elementary schools have to celebrations. To my uninformed way of thinking, the seemingly never ending stream of celebrations constituted a grave misuse of instructional time. However, I have mellowed quite a bit since those days when I was repeatedly stoned and shamed by elementary principals and teachers for my lack of understanding. Maybe it is my age, or more likely one of the stones actually knocked some sense into me, but I have come to realize these celebrations are valuable learning tools for young children. Even if they were not learning opportunities, which they are, the celebrations are fun and build student interest in school. Maybe that is what is missing at all grade levels in schools today. Maybe what schools need is a little more fun – not only in elementary school, but middle school and high school as well. We might be amazed at the impact on behavior, attendance, and achievement if we created schools where children and teachers enjoyed being there.

Therefore, in an effort to show my support for making schools a more fun place to be, I am contributing a list of nationally recognized monthly and weekly celebrations. I am fairly certain that none of the celebrations on my list will be new to elementary school principals and teachers, and I am fairly positive that many middle school and high school principals and teachers will be just as inflexible as I once was and ask, “What in the name of a blue flaming hen is he thinking? What does he hope to accomplish? Has he gone absolutely mad?” My answer is simple. Sometimes it pays to be a little mad if it gets people to thinking what the best hope is for kids, and especially if it makes school a place where children of all ages want to be. Therefore, I challenge principals and teachers across all grade levels to find an excuse for celebrating from the list below, or better yet, create your own reason to celebrate. I think it is time to follow the lead of the elementary schools and build a little fun and celebration into our schools and the lives of our children! Who knows, it may be the missing “silver bullet” educators have been searching for years to find.

Linton’s School Celebrations: (These are actual celebration days, weeks, or months)

  • Oatmeal Month (January)
  • Spaghetti Day (January 4)
  • Cuckoo Dancing Week (Week of January 18th – I may take my wife dancing this week.)
  • Snack Food Month (February)
  • Procrastination Week (Second Week of March – Right before spring break – how appropriate!)
  • Egg Salad Week (1st week after Easter Sunday)
  • Frog Month (April)
  • Teacher Appreciation Month (1st full week in May)
  • Trauma Awareness Month (May – I wonder if there is a reason for Teacher Appreciation Month and Trauma Awareness Month to be in the same month?)
  • Bathroom Reading Week (Second week in June – Now this is my kind of celebration!)
  • Baked Beans Month (July – As a teacher, I would be glad this one comes in the summer.)
  • Clown Week (August 1 – 7 each year – All a teacher needs is another clown!)
  • Chicken Month (September)
  • Children’s Good Manners Month (September – Why not celebrate this one every month?)
  • Sarcastic Awareness Month (October)
  • Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day (First Saturday in November – For teacher’s only after school!)
  • Plan Your Epitaph Day (November 2 – Not sure what to think about this one?)
  • National Pizza With The Works Except Anchovies Day (November 12)

Happy Celebrating!

JL

©Jack Linton, August 25, 2014