Parents: It All Boils Down To Perception

I wish someone here in the United States would do a survey of teachers to find out if something similar is happening to teachers in the United States. An article cites Facebook bullying is on the rise, and that teachers have been physically attacked by parents. Schools are wasting resources checking out social networking sites, looking for the threats.

Is anyone surprised? Are you appalled?

What happened to a teacher being a true expert in her field? What happened to the automatic respect that came with being a teacher?

I know that students aren’t respectful of teachers. That’s part of the act of growing up. It’s easy to be disrespectful to someone you spend 7 hours a day with. But in the past, the parents were there to support the teacher, holding their children to a high standard that they would enforce at home.

When I was a kid (yeah, I sound old old old), if the school called, I was in trouble. Instantly. My side of the story didn’t matter. A teacher had to take the time to call and that was enough of a reason to get punished. Now teachers have to deal with threats and cyber bullying?! By parents?!

I’m not always supportive of the educational system, because I think it’s inherently flawed. But I am supportive of individual teachers. I wish they were less tentative when giving out detentions. If they believe my kid deserves a detention, then they do. End of the story. I am trying to be 100% supportive.

Currently, there is dissention over the firing of the elementary school principal in my district. My initial reaction was: good riddance. I’ve not been a fan of this principal since the day she took over. But I have been supportive. I’m surprised at the number of people who are protesting her firing, which is one year shy of retirement. She continues to be the principal, but has been asked to leave at the end of the school year. The school board is not saying what caused the firing, citing confidentiality policies.

Since my experiences with this woman have been less than positive, I’ve wondered about the people speaking out to the media about their disagreement. We had the same principal. They find her supportive and loving. I did not.

But it all boils down to perception, doesn’t it? And people act on their perceptions. It’s when these perceptions become public that they can cause problems.

I’ve let my feelings known about the principal to very few people. Mostly my non-school friends have heard my rants and offered the cajoling words and support I needed. I treated this woman respectfully and tried to be supportive. I certainly never communicated any negative feelings about her to my children! I know that speaking ill of any adult in front of my children ruins any chances they have of forming their own opinions. I don’t feel the need to have my children agree with me 100% of the time.

I never would have spoken ill about her on the internet, where nothing is really secret.

Perception. That’s what I take into account. The boys all had experiences with a teacher (she was Aaron’s homeroom teacher at one point) and I adored her. She taught the way I wish all teachers would teach: firmly and strictly. Kids knew the rules and knew the consequences of breaking these rules. Even when I was substitute teaching at the school, I would seek her out because I found her so warm and loving.

I was sad to hear another parent complaining about her. The mother said she didn’t like that the teacher never got on the floor with the kids and always made them come to her. Physical limitations prevented the teacher from being as active as some other teachers. The mother felt the kids were missing out.

Then another mother came forward singing the teacher’s praises. Her main reason for being so enamored: that the teacher sat down and always dealt with the kids on their own level.

Perception, once again.

That’s the lesson, isn’t it? To know that our own perceptions are clouded by personal feeling and our histories. When we go off and broadcast negative things about anyone, especially cyberlly, they can’t be undone. They are floating out there for anyone and everyone to see. Even if done anonymously, they can wreak havoc on our communities.

I hope this is a lesson learned by our society as quickly as possibly. Stop. Count to 10 before you take hold of your keyboard…


2 thoughts on “Parents: It All Boils Down To Perception

  1. Perception – how true this is. We have a kindergarten teacher that all 3 of my kids had who I think is truly one of the best K teachers the school has. Most of the other parents can’t stand her. Parents go out of their way to request that their children do not get her. It kind of breaks my heart. I’ve gotten to know this teacher pretty well… yes, she can be a little rough around the edges, and she gets annoyed with the kids a lot… but she doesn’t yell at them and she has never once layed a hand on them… and she tells it like it is. If your kid is a behavior problem, she will let you know it. She disciplines by not allowing kids to go to recess or buy not giving them class rewards. And yes, she will send a child to the Principal if they are really being disruptive. No other teacher in the school does that.

    This particular teacher: She stays after school to help the slower children. She re-tests kids who she knows test poorly and know the material. She is currently homeschooling one of her K students who has cancer. She isn’t getting paid for this. When a child graduates from her class, they KNOW their alphabet. They KNOW how to read and write. They are prepared for 1st grade like no other class in the school.

    But it’s perception. Some parents want a huggie-feely kind of teacher. Someone soft-spoken who doesn’t discipline. Unfortunately, it’s also those teachers who don’t always “teach” well.

    • Thanks for commenting, Carolyn! Maybe school isn’t the place for warm fuzzy time. Maybe it’s learning time. Parents definitely feel that more learning needs to be going on, anyway!

      xo Susie

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