I admit that I’m pretty blunt and forthright. I come by it honestly; I’ve always been like this. However, I became more aware of it, and actually more attached to it, once I started teaching. You see, I’ve always worked at some of the less-fortunate institutes in my area. As such, many of the students are behind the eight ball academically. You’d think they and their families would be abundantly aware of this. Yet, when I check old report cards, not so much.
I’ve read report cards comments about how enjoyable a child is. I’ve read that a child should have a great summer. Occasionally I’d see where a child should continue reading or practice basic math facts. I read a lot of “discussed during conference”. What I didn’t see a lot of was that the teacher very clearly spelled out that the child was at risk for failing, definitely needed to be fluent in his/her math facts in order to progress mathematically, and needed to read and be read to nightly. It’s as if the conversations we have among ourselves aren’t happening with our families. Worse? Kids who were promoted who KNEW they couldn’t read and felt so far behind they would hide. There’s nothing worse than not being successful when it’s the expectation. It’s like running a marathon at 600 pounds — hard, humiliating, and soul crushing.
Because of my tendency to tell it like it is (have my Come to Jesus moment with kids and families), I’m pegged as the mean teacher. While it’s true that I’m not into maintaining lies, I’m not harmful to kids. They already know what I see. While they might not want me to call them on it, I definitely think there’s a small relief that comes from not having to pretend anymore. I think if you even asked the students if my assessment was fair, they’d grant you it was. After all, they know if they’re making effort or not. What they say they want is someone to ignore it, to accept their lies that they can’t or whatever. What they get is me.
I’m in their face, pushing them to accomplish, pointing out that they HAVE to learn to work. I force the issue that I don’t care if they like it. The point of education is to get a chance, a hope, a dream of doing what you want and setting your own job rather than having that dictated. It’s not going to happen if you can’t get past the basics. Plus your parents don’t want you living at home forever.
I won’t accept that they know the topic so why should they have to work on an assignment. In theory I already know teaching. Why do I have to continue to get a paycheck? BECAUSE THAT’S HOW LIFE WORKS!
I’m not mean because I expect them to suck it up, do it, move forward, and learn to push themselves. In fact, I’m probably the kindest person they’ll ever meet. ‘Cause if they can make it past me, if they can learn to work the way I think they should, then they probably have a damned good chance at success.
How mean is that?