Saturday, April 17, 2010

One Reason I Don't Want to Teach Anymore


It's not the students. It's the parents. Not all parents, mind you, but there's always a couple every year that make it more challenging than it needs to be. Teaching well is already challenging enough. Don't believe me? Try it yourself. Walk a mile in my moccasins, and then tell me it's easy.

So... this isn't even directed at any parent of my students. This is about what I observed today at my son's swim class. There were some other parents sitting in front of us, and this one dad comments on how the teacher should get out of the pool and help the students with their dives. The other two moms sitting near him agree, nodding their heads and saying similar things.

I overhear this, and my blood starts to boil. I want to say something, but I refrain, as usual. And they keep talking, so clear in their own minds that they can teach better than the qualified swim teacher who has been successfully teaching their children for weeks and weeks. It's so easy to sit back, watch someone else do their job, and think you can do it better. We all have thoughts like that. I do. I'm not saying I'm any better than these people. But I have the discretion to know when to keep my mouth shut.

This is one of the things about teaching I dislike the most. I wanted to tap this guy on the shoulder and offer to come watch him do his work, just sitting there talking about how I could do it better than him. It's like being a quarterback from the comfort of your couch.

And then, sure enough, the teacher sees that they're not doing as well as she probably hoped, and she climbs out of the pool and begins to help them just as the dad had been talking about. Do these parents acknowledge her for doing this? No, they do not. They do not see that she has been assessing how they can dive, and then modified her teaching technique accordingly, which is what I saw. No, they don't do that. Instead, the moms congratulate him on his keen observation. "Look," one of the moms says, "it's like she heard you through the glass."

At this point, my blood is boiling over. I lean close to my wife, point at the three parents in front of me, and say quietly, "This is why I don't want to teach anymore."

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