Tuesday, May 06, 2014

what would homer do?

i came home to an email from the school principal today. i've written previously about the shocking lack of communication skills displayed in these emails and today's was no exception. if i were working on a ph.d. in rhetoric, these mails would be absolutely fascinating. as it is, i'm a parent of a child who is in a class with what is essentially (and unfortunately) a really bad, weak teacher, so the mail is more worrying than fascinating.

for some time now (school started in what, august, so approximately 9 months) this teacher has had trouble controlling the classroom. she hasn't been able to gain the respect of the students at all and they are often noisy and restless during her lessons (which are danish and history). oddly, this class seems to respect their other teachers, but that's curiously not mentioned in the mail from the principal.

today, this poor teacher apparently had enough and gave up and left the classroom in tears after saying to the class that they could just go home and laugh about her with their parents. when i heard that, i was definitely not laughing, as it seems to me to be a very sad and revealing statement from a frustrated teacher who feels desperately unsupported in her work. the kids reported that she went to the principal's office and had a good cry.

in the meantime, the principal came down to the class and sat them down and had a talk with them about, as near as i can tell from her email, soccer and drippy faucets. because vague metaphors really speak to the 7th grade mind.

the email assures us that she has turned off the drippiest of the faucets and that all will be just hunky dory going forward because the students have understood the gravity of...erm...leaky faucets. whether the school understands that they have a problem and need to give extra support to a teacher that's clearly floundering in her work is less clear. and whether they further understand that respect between students and teachers is something that must be earned or commanded through force of personality, is also unclear. actually, i'm being sarcastic; it's pretty clear that they don't understand that at all.

they also don't seem to have made the connection that this class, which is largely composed of the same students as it was last year, over at the elementary school, was not a problem then and isn't a problem for other teachers at the middle school. and that therefore, it stands to reason that maybe the teacher is the problem.

i don't want to kick someone when they're down, but a teacher who has struggled with what is arguably an easygoing group of young people for nine months without success clearly has a problem. when she begins airing the dirty laundry of personal problems at home in class, including that her son is hearing voices, and that she's struggling with health issues after a lung transplant, it is quite possibly the equivalent of waving a big red flag. young teenagers have enough troubles of their own dealing with puberty and all of the changes wrought by that, without having the unexplained symptoms of their teacher's child brought into the mix. what are they supposed to do with such information? how are they supposed to react? will it make them worry? will they wonder what it means? why on earth would you as the teacher tell that to your 13-year-old students? how can she not see how wildly inappropriate that is? why is the filter switched off (just to bring in a metaphor, ala the principal)? and why is the school not effectively supporting a teacher that's so clearly in need of some serious support?

but i'm not sure what i can do about it. i could write a mail to the principal, expressing my concerns and she'd fob off a few more dissertation-worthy metaphors on me and nothing would change. i could send her a link to this blog post, but she would probably just think i'm a big meanie (really, i'm trying to work out what i think about it, and this is how i do that).

i spent some time this evening, looking at the website of a nearby private school, as that's my way of feeling that i might be able to change things. but what i really want is for this school to clean up its act. i want them to start communicating in an honest and open way and face the problem head-on. and i want them to either provide a whole lot more support to this floundering teacher or i want them to remove her and promise me that she's not going to be my child's homeroom (and danish and history) teacher next year. in other words, i want them to grab hold of the reins. we pay an awful lot of taxes and frankly, they owe us that.

i don't know what homer simpson would do in such a case. i'm not sure he'd much notice. but if he did, i think he'd be fiercely loyal to his children and go in and demand the best for them, even if he did it a bit clumsily. so maybe i should do what homer would do. my own little lisa's future might very well depend upon it.

*like how i made that photo fit the post right there in the very last second? 


Jody Pearl said...

In my experience you'll find no matter what tack you take you're dealing with individuals within a system where hierarchy rules and at the first whiff of dissension will circle the wagons in favour of saving their own skins - the children are an inconvenient consequence….or leaky faucet?!

julochka said...

alas, Jody, I fear you're right. :-(

will said...

Homer would spread the mayo on - then eat the teacher and any kid too slow to leave the room.