Most teachers get into teaching because they love children and want to nurture them and watch them grow. Well, I think that’s how it begins for all of them because it certainly can’t be for the money. But somewhere along the way they lost that passion, or maybe some just never had the patience to be a teacher.
My first year in college I thought I wanted to be a teacher. I quickly realized that it wasn’t for me. I still loved children, but I didn’t feel I could take the day in and day out bureaucracy of it all. Twenty different personalities in one room with me it was all just too much. I was fortunate to go to a college who believed in getting freshman into schools so they could see what it was like so I made my decision pretty quickly to move along. So I didn’t go through 3 or 4 years of being taught how to teach to then be put in a classroom to discover it’s not for me. Then you are kind of stuck on a career path that you are already starting to hate.
A Rash Of Teacher Bullying Stories
Maybe it’s because I’m more sensitive to this stuff with school aged children. Maybe it’s because I have one who receives special services in reading. Maybe it’s because I have seen first hand how a teacher can break a child’s spirit, but there just seems to be a rash of teacher bullying stories popping up. I talked about another one a few months ago here and now there’s the story of little Akian Chaifetz, a 10 year old Autistic boy, who was bullied and exposed to inappropriate conversations, not by other students, but by his teachers! This is a long video that shows only a few snippets of the daily abuse this boy endured. However it’s very powerful. This father is understandably very angry and very emotional and he and his son deserve everything he is asking for!
It Happens More Than We Know
Everyday I send my children off to school. And everyday I tell them to have a good day. Everyday I hope that the people they run into are kind to them and that they are also kind to the people who are a part of their day. Not everyday is a good day, I know, but I have to hope not every day is a bad day either. But my middle daughter lived her own form of terror 2 years ago.
I do not know if it was to the extent of this. I have my suspicions that it was because I was in that classroom. At the end of my daughter’s 2nd grade year there was an incident that I witnessed with her teacher that I did not approve of. She was really big on whole class punishments. A few kids act out and the whole class has to suffer. Now I always tell my kids when they complain about this stuff that they need to talk to these other kids and help them to stay in line so you don’t lose privileges, but it always seemed with this particular teacher things went too far. Like they were not getting down to the lunch room for lunch in enough time to complete their lunch because of these punishments. Take away recess, but don’t take away time for my child to get the nourishment she needs. And my daughter wasn’t the only child complaining about these things.
But that year at the very final weeks of school they had field day. My husband and I had gone to snap some pictures of the kids enjoying their day and to help out where we could. And at one point (I think probably when the teacher thought we weren’t in ear shot) we heard the teacher tell the children that if they didn’t get in line right now that they would not be returning to the field after lunch. My husband and I looked at each other and said oh no way is that happening. If our daughter was not at that field then we were going to march into that classroom to get her because I signed a piece of paper saying that she could participate and she wasn’t about to miss out because of this teacher’s inability to control her temper. And I was there, my daughter was not a child who was acting out in anyway that would even justify her being left behind. They were at the field after lunch that day and I did not have to make a scene, but it was a glimpse into what she had likely been dealing with all year long. I am generally not one to get in the way of what a teacher feels is necessary, but you better believe the mama lion comes out in me when I see my children being treated unjustly.
And even more recently, my daughter, who receives special services for reading complains about one of her reading teachers. It’s not that she’s mean to her, but it doesn’t sound like she’s doing her job with her. Her main reading teacher she loves going to. And this woman works her hard. I’m always telling my daughter when she is reading at home and can’t figure something out, what would Ms. P tell you? And she gets a big smile on her face and taps the word out just like she would if Ms. P were sitting there watching her. But she dreads the days she has to go with Ms. D because as my daughter says all she ever does is talk to other teachers and play on her cell phone. *Mental note, I have got to talk to her team about this and find out what is going on.
There Are Always Two Sides
I will not go flying off the handle about this. There are always two sides to a story and then the truth is in the middle there somewhere. But we have got to stand up for our children. Even if it means we’re going to be labeled as the difficult parent. I would rather be difficult and wrong about my concerns than silent and have a right to be worried. In the Cahifetz case this father was at his wits end. No one could figure out why his son was acting out. His son was communicating by acting out because that was the only way he was capable of doing it. The teachers were saying oh no we’re loving caring teachers who would never hurt a fly. And there was still a problem. So this father did the only thing he could think to do. He got some ears on that classroom. His son couldn’t verbalize for him what was happening. And everything else he was being told wasn’t adding up.
And he got his answers. And the teacher apparently got a slap on the wrist. And much like my case with my daughter the teacher was protected. And mind you I had a wonderful relationship with the principal in that school. He knew I wasn’t an overbearing parent who didn’t know what was going on with her children. And yet when we all met he stood up for the teacher. Not my daughter, the one person in this who truly matters.
Akian can’t get the past several months of that school year back. My daughter can’t get her 2nd grade year back. A teacher who is fired can get a job. Maybe not teaching, but she can find a way to sustain herself. The children that have been hurt by teachers like this, they continue to hurt. The new students they get will be hurt too. It’s a never ending cycle. And for us only by the grace of God (well and the fact that we moved and got into a different school with a little Intel about the teachers there) my daughter had a teacher last year who managed to restore her faith in education. Who got her to push herself and built her confidence to amazing levels. He couldn’t erase what had happened to her, but he did make her see that school isn’t a bad place.
I hope Akian can find that amazing teacher like we did that he’ll have an amazing connection with. Because there are still wonderful teachers out there. But some not so good ones are peppered in and protected by things like tenure so they can continue their rein of terror on children. We can only hope that this teacher took this as a chance to improve herself and reevaluate her style. I’m guessing not though because my daughter’s 2nd grade teacher had been moved to our school, I can only assume after speaking to another parent that it was after she had caused a stir in her previous school. You can’t just move the problem around and hope that fixes it. There are just some people who were not meant to teach and we’re not talking we just caught someone on a bad day. There were ongoing red flags for Akian’s dad and we had many red flags too.
We need to protect our children! Just because some might not have the verbal skills to express what’s going on that does not give anyone the right to break a child’s spirit. I hope Akian keeps on smiling and will love school again one day. He absolutely did not deserve what happened to him! None of the children in that classroom did. And none of the children in any future classrooms of this “teacher” (and I use that term loosely) deserve that sort of treatment. A dog doesn’t even deserve to be treated like that!
What Else Can We Do?
Every time I hear a story like this, I miss the two way mirrored classroom that was set up in the classroom of the preschool on my college campus. It was mostly there for the professors to observe the student teachers, but parents could go in there too. Everyone knew it was there, but no one knew when someone was watching you. So you always had to be wary of that. Knowing that your style could be observed at any point in time. So you had to be on your game.
Now school buses are starting to use cameras to catch the things that occur on buses. People are using nanny cams. Why can’t we have a way to observe how a classroom is being run without anyone seeing us? Set up video cameras in all of the classrooms. Not because we want to catch the teachers doing something bad, but so that our children can be held more accountable too. My kids never know when I’ll pop in to school to check on them or shoot their teacher an email to get clarification about what’s going on. They are accountable for their actions with me at all times. But why not make them even more accountable? Why not make the teachers even more accountable? Then these things can’t happen, or they could but they wouldn’t happen as often.
And there has got to be consequences to someone’s actions. This is life. The president of the United States can’t get away with murder because he’s our commander and chief. Maybe he could if he has a good lawyer, but not simply based on his title. Not based on how long he has been doing something. What does it take for action to be taken against the bad apples in teaching? Of unequivocal proof of a heinous act against a child isn’t it, then what is?
I can’t be with my children 24/7. I can’t know every single thing that happens to them at every moment of the day. I send them off on the school bus hoping that the driver will get them there safely. I leave them with teachers that I hope are going to teach them what they are supposed to be taught. Not spew hatred at them. I don’t get to interview these people who are carting my children around and teaching them. I have to hope that someone else did it right. And I have to hope that they are continuing to keep tabs on these people that my children spend a good part of their day with. Sure I could home school and avoid all this worry, but that is not how I have chosen to get my children their education. I am entrusting my most precious commodity to people I don’t really know, I get that. But there is a job that is to be done by the school board, the board of educations, the administrators, the principals, and the teachers. They are to keep my child and every other child that enters those buildings safe and provide them with an education. If they are not doing that, then they have failed every single child and parent that walks into that school and they should want to do better. I expect them to do better. I expect them to keep my children safe. I expect them to educate my children. And I expect them to do all of that above what any sort of tenure agreement tells them to do!