10 teacher sayings I hate

10. “He’s lazy”corporal punishment

9. “She’s loud”

8. “I’m giving a really big test and they’re not ready for it – that’ll teach ‘em to listen!”

7. “I gave him extra credit for _________” (cleaning, running errands, busywork, etc.)

6. “These kids just don’t want to learn”

5. “I found a great website with all kinds of worksheets!”

4. (to students) “I’m not your mom (friend, babysitter, etc.)”

3. “We need stricter punishments”

2. “I was taught that way and I turned out fine”

And the #1 teacher saying I hate….

“He’s not very bright”

Image used under cc license from the flickr photostream of Wisconsin Historical Images

10 things I hate about school

10. grading
I’ve always felt icky about sitting down by myself and placing value in the form of a letter or number on the work of a student.  I would much rather write them a short note with feedback and no grade.  Better still, I’d rather sit down with them and have a conversation about their work and their thoughts about it.

9. interruptions
Bells. Announcements. The phone ringing. People coming into my room needing something. Every time I’m in the midst of something meaningful and valuable with my students and it is interrupted, I feel like the spell is broken.  I often ignore my classroom phone but the ringing still distracts the students (“I’ll get it Mr. Rice!”).

8. “don’t fly too high”
Teachers often resent those who get accolades. They snipe at them behind their backs; bring them down. I’ve seen it at every school I’ve been involved with and it’s ugly.

7. parents who aren’t involved with school
This is hard one. I want to approach this as respectfully as possible.  Maybe the correct label is “things that school systems do that makes parents not want to be involved.”  We need to break that mold, somehow.  Parents, families and students are the primary stakeholders in the system.  If it’s not working for them, we need to adapt.

6. politics
I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t sit on the sidelines in school and avoid the politics. They still affect you and your job even when you try to stay out of them. That being said, there is honest politics and there is the other.

5. meetings
I honestly enjoy collaborating with my colleagues, especially when we are working on something that directly impacts student learning. Too often, however, meetings have little or nothing to do with learning. Too often, they become a pulpit for those who love to hear their own voices.

4. hoop jumping
This is related to #5. I have come to passionately resent wasted time. My time is precious. I spent way too much of it at school, rather than at home with my family. Anything that I am being asked to do that does not impact student learning is a hoop and a waste of my time. Meetings, paperwork, dog and pony shows and the like fall under this category.

3. adults who work at schools and forget why they have a job
Schools do not exist to employ adults. The one and only purpose of a school is to educate children. Everything else must take a backseat to that goal, with the obvious exception of safety (both physical and emotional).

2. feeling like I care more about my students’ education than they do
This is another hard one. I don’t blame the students for this. We’ve brought this upon ourselves with the way we’ve mis-educated them. Still, it’s hard when I see in their eyes that they have no faith in the system to give them what they need. It’s hard to hear the apathy in their voices.

1. grading
If you’ve read my blog at all, you were probably wondering why grading was only #10 on this list. I love teaching but I hate grading. Grading is the bane of my teaching existence.

Educational nihilists

There are many parallels between education and medicine.  As I was paraphrasing the Hippocratic Oath to create The Educator’s Hippocratic Oath, I came across a term I needed to look up – therapeutic nihilism.

Therapeutic nihilism is a contention that curing people, or societies, of their ills by treatment is impossible

Therapeutic nihilism – Wikipedia

I was slapped in the face by the relevance of this term to education.  Many teachers develop educational nihilism at some point.  They begin to believe that truly educating children is impossible.  They sit in the staff lounge and rant about “kids these days.”  They sit at their desk and give out worksheets all day.  They are just counting down the years until retirement.

The question is – are they a cause of the problem or a symptom of the failure of the system?

Either way, we need to overcome the educational nihilists in our schools in order to inspire real change.