I can only imagine what you are thinking sometimes.
Once again, our profession is in the news over a middle school teacher accused of having sexual relationships with two students. Unfortunately, it’s happening in my own district.
I cannot express how frustrating these moments are to me as a professional, and I can only imagine how frightening they are for you, as a parent. For that reason, I am going to ask a lot of you.
Don’t lose faith. Please.
I need you to rely on better models of who teachers are – not the Larry Nassers and the Harvey Weinsteins of the profession. Rather, the number of amazing teachers I work with and read of every day.
So I put together some evidence – some proof – that for every bad teacher there are 100 more great ones.
I’ll start with a familiar video. This guy makes a handshake with every one of the kids that walks into his room. It’s a marvel of memory, but it’s an incredible representation of the healthy relationships this teacher (and so many teachers) create with their students.
Another often seen video – at least by other teachers. Rita Pierson embodies what it means to advocate for kids, what it means to go to bat for a kid’s best interests, what it means to care. I have seen teachers go to unbelievable levels to make sure their students have what they need. Just skim through DonorsChoose to see all the teachers investing time and energy into new learning experiences for students.
You’ve probably heard of The Freedom Writer’s Diary or seen the MTV movie with Hillary Swank. Erin Gruwell, the teacher behind the story, incredibly sacrificed so much for the students in her class – her time, her money, her marriage. I am constantly inspired by the sacrifices I see teachers making for their kids.
My next example comes from my very own department. My department chair is an incredible woman – just in general – but an even more amazing teacher. One thing she did this year that continues to inspire me is she paid for one of her student’s lunch. But, like I mentioned, for every Beth, there are a 100 more just like her. They buy hundreds of dollars in supplies, buy their own classroom furniture to produce flexible seating, pay fees for activities or exams, and more. And they do it for the love of your child.
Your children’s teachers are their teacher for life. The support, encouragement, and hope they have for your kids never goes away. Another colleague of mine witnessed one of his students struggle against an emotionally abusive father who would eventually kick him out of the house. The next year, that teacher paid for his books to get him through his first year of college. The amazing part is he is one of many teachers who have done the same for their students.
I could go on indefinitely, noting all the times I saw a teacher make a student smile, sitting in their office late into the evening, or cheering from the bleachers. And those are the teachers that become angry in situations like that at my own district. We are enraged that someone would ruin the trust we build with parents, students, and other staff by sullying the reputation we all work so hard to protect.
And those are the teachers that understand your anger, fear, and outrage.
Please have faith that there is more good than bad in the teaching world because it’s there. I promise.