Sometimes, as a teacher (and a good person) you have to bite your tongue. Not in front of the children necessarily, but in front of the parents. Whether they be standing less than a meter away from you, talking about how you are ignoring the bullying that their child is (or isn’t really) experiencing in school, with the other parents, or they are telling you how it is your job to control their child’s erratic and incomprehensible behaviour in school, or when a ‘kind intentioned’ parent informs you that a certain parent was talking about you on their Facebook last night, where I’m assuming they think we can’t see it! The things you really want to say to them are not entirely the right thing to say in the heat of the moment.
There has been many a time when I have been grateful for the filter my brain has on the words I think of before they exit my mouth. Maybe there is a diversion between my brain and mouth so when my brain decides it’s not a good idea to say that aloud, the thoughts get diverted somewhere before they are verbalised. Where? I don’t know, but I’m thankful that the filter is there anyway.
What do you do when parents talk about you in a less that gratituous way? What can you do? As far as I’m aware, hardly anything that won’t result in an uncomfortable conversation with management. Often the best thing to do is to let it wash over your head. However, there is only so much you can take in the first 3.5 weeks of the school year, before the lack of gratitude for the blood, sweat and real tears you pour into a child’s education and well being in school, is just too much to handle. The bullshit you’ve been dodging for so long begins to build up into a mountain behind you until there is nowhere else for it to go but to fall on your head and trickle down your face.
It seems an unfairly balanced situation where the parents can say whatever they want to our faces, when they don’t even know the entire story or all of the facts. Yet, we as teachers have to hold back, to some extent. We have to listen to them and try to put the facts across to people who are too ignorant to listen. Quite often parents will so blindly believe that the blame is solely on us as the teacher (or school) and completely fail to recognise that we didn’t make the child or raise them before they started school. That was, and still is, their job. We just teach the child and care for them for 6-7 hours in the day.
Luckily, I work with some amazingly, supportive colleagues who follow me to the other end of school, back to my classroom, and hug me as I sob out the anger inside of me. I keep reminding myself that it is ok to cry in these situations. It’s just not ok to cry in front of the parents. It’s like laughing in front of the class when you’re trying to be stern over a ridiculous situation you never thought you’d be discussing with a class of 6-7 year olds.
Unfortunately for me, when fully grown adults, who should know how to treat others better, make me angry and there is nothing I can do to make them see it is them and not me, the anger becomes so overwhelming that I cry. It’s my release. I either cry or I have to hit something. Seeing as it is illegal to hit someone else, I have to cry. It’s a weak looking release and I try my best to hide when it happens, however when you have a strong network of support and back up in the work place, it can make you realise that you are just human. Crying isn’t a weakness, it just means that you’ve had to be strong for far too long.