I love to sit in the evening and scroll through Facebook looking for interesting articles or silly quizzes and things of that sort. The other day I came across a Buzzfeed list called “19 Secrets Teachers Won’t Tell You“. I read through it. Agreed with some of the things, got a little chuckle and moved on. I didn’t even bother to repost it. For whatever reason however, I decided to look at the comments. I should never look at the comments because in virtually all cases, comments on public articles are utterly horrifying. These were no exception.
There were dozens upon dozens (at the time, probably hundreds now) of people tagging teacher friends asking them if the list spoke truth. Others were calling out teachers for being horrible human beings should the list be true. Others still, saying that any teacher who doesn’t love all his/her students equally should be out of a job. It was basically criticism after criticism. Now the list itself was a very poor representation of what teachers feel on most days but I think just about any teacher could have said or written some of those things on a bad day and that’s where people who comment these mean things really lose me.
Why are teachers held to such a ridiculously outrageous expectation of perfection? Nothing less will be acceptable. Not only must you get kids on target in all their subject areas, you have to make sure they get along, don’t participate in bullying behaviors, feel loved, eat all their lunch, and get into the best college and lets not forget those teachers who also have shielded their children from crazed gunmen and tornadoes, too. There is no gray area here, it’s not a sliding scale. To some, this is an all or nothing thing and if you’re not doing all these things you’ve failed miserably and should look for a new job. And you know what? As a teacher I was okay with these expectations. They are things I’d have put on myself even if others didn’t. But according to these people commenting on this article you also have to love every student every moment of the day, you cannot ever vent to others when you are frustrated, you may never have a bad day where you put in a movie for the kids, you must be filled with joy when you see students outside of school and on and on. Say what? Are these people asking for a human to teach their children or some sort of robot? News flash– these things ARE true. Not always but sometimes. Do parents of multiple children not occasionally feel frustration towards one child while not with the others? Are there not days that even the best of parents think (not say, not act, but think) that they love their child but don’t like them very much in that moment? As a teacher there were moments of frustration. What made me a professional was that I could and did still show my students the respect they deserved. But now, according to these people, I wasn’t allowed to think the frustration either.
And these thoughts are what led me to thinking about my current job as a mom. The message we get as moms is a complete 180 from what is expected of teachers. Having a bad day and are frustrated with your kid and yelled? Don’t worry, it’s okay, all moms have bad days. You still love your child. Not feeling well and put your kids in front of the TV? It’s okay, moms need time to themselves too. Moms don’t get sick days. You just have to do what you need to do to get by. Your child is 7 and not reading yet? Don’t worry, all kids are different and grow at their own pace. They will get there eventually.
Why are these the messages that moms are given yet if you turned it around and replaced mom with teacher it would be deemed completely unacceptable? We are forcing this already greatly under-appreciated profession into a realm of expectations that is so wildly unrealistic that it is driving teachers to leave the classroom and seek other careers entirely. And it’s a terrible shame. So my request is this. Next time you get upset at something a teacher says or does, ask yourself it it’s an expectation you’d want held to you as a parent. And if you can’t honestly say you never would or could do whatever that thing was, then cut the teachers some slack. They are human too.