The Problem With Teaching Today: Told Through Two Anecdotes

The following stories are

non-fictional and depict

actual persons and events.

I was observing a teacher’s classroom; she had been having problems with a student who was a behavior challenge. The student was being disruptive and unruly, not at all ready to learn. I walked over to him, and I calmly asked him, “What do you need?” He yelled at me, “I need my crackers!” I turned to the teacher and asked her why she wouldn’t let him have his crackers. She replied, “because it isn’t snack time.” Can you imagine? Here is a student telling you he’s hungry, and you won’t give him what he needs because it isn’t snack time? I asked the teacher, “Which would you rather have, an unruly student who is being disruptive, or a student who is ready to learn? Let him have his crackers.”

As told by a behavioral specialist

I was talking to my colleague, who happened to help me develop our curriculum, and her kids happen to go to your school, and she was telling me that her children hate your class. They were talking about it over dinner one night, and she said they told her that they hate your class because it’s boring and they never do anything fun. This concerns me. You should be making it fun for the students, you should be doing projects with your students. This is unacceptable. What are you going to do to change this?

An overheard conversation between a supervisor and a foreign language teacher

The first story was presented during a professional development session. Based on the faces of the other teachers at my table, they were all thinking the same thing I was. Here is a student who has just been handed control of this poor teacher’s classroom. If a behavioral “specialist” is telling us that we need to give students everything they “need,” whenever they demand it, then we are all screwed.

The second conversation I was privy to because I share a classroom with the foreign language teacher. Here was a teacher who was being reprimanded, scolded, by a supervisor for something that wasn’t even true, based on one conversation that occurred at the dinner table. Because one family of students reported that a class was boring and not fun, two teachers were subjected to the criticism of their supervisor. Like the foreign language teacher remarked, they were assumed guilty and must now prove their innocence. Going forward, they must provide their supervisor with photographic and video proof that they are following the curriculum and engaging students through projects. Things they were already doing, but now they have to prove it because of the remarks of a couple of students at the dinner table.

During our PD session, after hearing the cracker story, another colleague remarked, “We’re no longer teachers. The students have all the power.”


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