There any number of reasons a teacher might need to vent in this day and age: apathetic students, low prestige and pay, being overworked, too much red tape, etc. This blog was created to chronicle the various ways that students, parents and school administrators have rendered many teachers helpless in the face of unfounded accusations. I left my position as a junior high school teacher two years ago as I could no longer take it.
The administration uses the necessity of investigating each and every complaint as a wedge to drive the teacher out. And why not? The system is largely broken and operates as a baby sitting service where overworked administrators spend time putting out fires. What employee wants to spend more time in this disagreeable situation?
I would like to think some changes in policy can be made where unsubstantiated, vindictive and vexatious complaints against teachers are minimized. Under the present system, students and parents can accuse all they want with next to no consequences for false claims. Furthermore, the emphasis on grades has rendered the real reason for school, less important. Many indulgent parents want to believe their child and also have an axe to grind when memories of their own dislike for school/ teachers comes up. In my twenty years in education, I see things getting worse all the time. Memories of my last year are little more than a recurring string of visits to the principal's office following hearsay from some disgruntled pupil who didn't expect anything lower than a B- for showing up, and received a C instead.
One could argue that the sad state of our educational system is in part, due to the often hidden and nuanced dynamics where today's student often hopes to maximize their grade while keeping energy / time expenditures to a minimum.
So what is the usual root for complaints? low grades or being disciplined: the student's failure to meet expectations.
Most complaints against me started with a pushback after the above mentioned occurred. Sometimes the complaint/s came months after I had done something but now the student had a low grade. Teachers realize that politics is a part of the game they must play but, unfortunately, politics supersede academics in many places. The attempt to head off any sort of retaliation by students and parents pushes teachers to:
1. inflate grades
2. overlook disruptive or unproductive behavior
3. dumb down lessons (frustration creates disruption)
4. behave as if teaching is a popularity contest rather than teaching.
Almost every teacher surmises that whether or not students are learning, keeping their job is a matter of keeping complaints to a minimum. Many principals, who were never good students to begin with, make judgements about teachers based on complaints rather than assessing them on their ability to teach. What we have increasingly is an attempt to create the illusion of learning rather than the real thing so that when an administrator walks by the door, the kids are quietly engaged in some activity. The tendency to spoon feed students the answers keeps kids on task but it also keeps them from pushing themselves and keeps their threshold for dealing with frustration low.
I would suggest that posters not use their real names or mention the names of students, but getting the school's name, or geographical location might be helpful. A teacher wishing to contribute should enter 1. the events prompting the accusation, 2. possible motives behind the allegations 3. steps the administration took to resolve the issue 4. lessons learned, questions, etc. I will close this introduction by saying that I started my career with a masters degree, pride and idealism. By the time it ended I felt like I was practically powerless in the face of such stacked odds. I can't be only one to experience this.