I have not always felt this way about students, let alone the teaching profession in general, but, if you do not mind me asking…What is up with high school kids nowadays? I wish I could blame the students for their sense of entitlement, lack of respect and misbehavior, but I can’t. There is, however, a very small percentage of students who are respectful, hardworking and well-behaved and us teachers are truly THANKful. The other percentage of students on the other-hand, well, sorry to say, I can thank their parents and the administration for their behavior. Yup, I said it.
I never realized how much of an impact a parent has on their child’s behavior and education until I became a mom. I reflect on how I have always raised my daughter and provided her with lots of love. I do not mean to be bias, but she is the sweetest, most thoughtful, empathetic and kindest little girl, and I know I can honestly say, that my parenting has played a major part in how she behaves and performs in school. Now if only I could say the same thing about my students’ parents.
I have been teaching high school Special Education for the past 9 years and based on my own experiences, I have noticed that parents have become less involved, care less and enable their children. Parents support teachers less and less each year. In their eyes, their child can never do any wrong. This attitude makes teachers’ jobs very difficult, stressful and extremely frustrating.
This particular generation of teens lack work ethic, do not take ownership for their behavior and expect grades to be given to them. Why did I “give” you a 64 on your project you ask? No, I did not “give” you a 64, you EARNED it.
The students feel entitled to run to administration with the belief that they can get their teacher fired or complain ESPECIALLY when their teacher is holding them accountable and have to face consequences for their misbehavior. Now you’re the bully. In their minds they genuinely believe, as do their parents, that they can do no wrong. They continue to believe that they deserve credit for work that they did not do and they KNOW that there are ZERO consequences for misbehavior. They honestly believe that the administrators are their friends and they know that they will only receive a warning.
Cursed the teacher off? Warning. Walked out of class? Warning. Slept in class? Warning. Misbehaved in class? Warning.
Warning. Warning. Warning.
After school detention, Saturday detention and lunch detention have become a thing of the past. Community service has become an absolute joke and they are lucky if they even show up.
I also place a lot of blame on the administrators for their lack of discipline, lack of support and their deep-rooted belief that the students are always right.
Ohhh, Jimmy..is your teacher really bullying you in class? Let me investigate this teacher’s behavior and question your classmates. Let’s get to the bottom of this together.
Are. You. Kidding. Me. Right. Now.
Do you know what REALLY gets to me? Like REALLY drives me nuts? The fact that the administrators are afraid of upsetting parents, especially since the majority of the parents TRULY believe that EVERYTHING is the teacher’s fault.
I will give you a prime example behind the reason why administration are afraid of parents based off one of my encounters with a parent. This year, I called a mom because her child was on his cell phone and was texting another student in my class. My conversation with her went something like this:
Please note: The names that I am about to use are fake in order to protect parenting gone wrong. #sorrynotsorry
Me: “Hi Mrs. S., this is Mrs.W., I just wanted to touch base with you regarding Jimmy’s behavior in English.”
Parent: “Um, ok? This is the first time ALL year that I am receiving a phone call like this.”
Me: *pretends like the parent did not just say that* “I have noticed a change in Jimmy’s behavior these past few classes. Today, he was on his cell phone, playing games and texting another student in the same class. He has not been doing his independent reading and his behavior has become very distracting to the other students. I had to redirect him multiple times. I eventually had to move him away from the other students and I took his cellphone.”
Parent: “Very sorry to say, but I find this VERY hard to believe. If this is true, then it is only in YOUR class. Did the other student get their cell phone taken away too?”
Me: *contemplates hanging up* Yes, the other student also received the same consequence. I was hoping you could speak to him regarding this behavior in class.
Parent: “Also, how do you know that he was not reading??”
Me: “Um… well, before I took his cellphone away, he was busy texting and the book was face down on the desk. I had to tell him a few times to put the cell away and read.”
Parent: “Let me ask you this…would YOU read if you were constantly nagged to read? I know I wouldn’t. Sometimes it appears that Jimmy is not reading, when he actually IS reading. How do you know he was texting another boy in class?”
Me: *still contemplates hanging up* *clears throat* “Well, I saw them texting and laughing. Thank you for letting me know how he reads, however, as I informed you, his book was faced down.”
Parent: “You seem very nervous and I can only imagine how you react to the students’ behavior. Don’t you think they are doing this to get a reaction out of you? I am looking at his cellphone bill right now as we speak and it shows that he was not on his cellphone during your class.”
Me: *Fights the urge to hang up* *Patience continues to dwindle* “ I understand your concern, however, I am only informing you of Jimmy’s behavior based on my observation in my class, and I hope that you can speak with him. I suggest checking the cell phone bill tomorrow morning as it takes about a day to show activity.”
Parent: “Oh, I will and you will be hearing from me tomorrow.” *hangs up phone*
This was one conversation that I had with a parent VERBATIM. Give or take some other snide remarks that were, I’m not going to lie, quite hurtful!
I am not sure why or when parents began to feel entitled to treat a teacher this way, but sadly, the reality is that 75 % of them do. I can understand why administrators have decided to become more “supportive” and “understanding” but they are truly enabling the parents’ behavior.
Now, I can and probably will eventually write a MUCH more detailed blog post about the how the administrators have contributed to this ongoing epidemic, but I will save you the headache and will only briefly touch upon it. It has become such a problem that I honestly do not know where to begin yet here is a prime example of a conversation I had with a vice principal.
Me: “I was just checking to see that you received my write up for *student’s* behavior last week? I noticed that he has not received a consequence.”
Vice principal: “Yes, I did receive it and coincidentally just spoke with him today.”
Me: “Oh, ok. Great, thank you. How did it go?”
Vice principal: “Well, I just gave him a warning. Now, I know he was disruptive, disrespectful and walked out of your class, however, it could have been that he was having an “off day. Oh, and before I forget, he said that he felt like you singled him out. Try to be easier on him and reprimand him in private. Let me know if this behavior continues.”
Rigghhhhhhhhhht. An. off. Day. You hit the nail on the freakin’ head.
Note to self: Writing a referral is a Waste. Of. My. Time.
Teachers: YOUR TIME IS PRECIOUS.
And THIS, my friends, is exactly WHY teachers are no longer respected, student misbehavior and sense entitlement continues to be an ongoing epidemic.
So, dear fellow teachers, first year teachers and those who are considering entering the teaching profession; it is NOT YOUR fault. You are NOT the problem. NEVER forget all of the reasons why you became a teacher. Most importantly, make it a point to thank the really great kids, supportive parents and administrators. We truly need them the most!
A very frustrated teacher.