A Soap Box Rant

Reason 32430 of Why Emmy Could Not Teach: The reactionary behavior of educators.

Yesterday, G had a horrible day.  Why? Because from the moment he arrived, he got nailed by the principal because of a parent of an IEP student (student with an individual education plan) had complained once again about his teaching style and how, in her opinion, G does not address his needs as outlined in the IEP. The principal, apparently, to validate the accusation sat in on one of G’s classes.
G is a progressive teacher about 80% of the time.  Given his subject matter, history – there is that 20% of the time he has to lecture.  It’s not his favorite thing, but for certain subjects he has found no better way.  Anyone who knows G, however, knows that he is a story teller.  So, it’s not dry, bland lecture a la Ferris Bueller.  It’s a story.  And the kids have even told him they enjoy it even if it bugs him.
She sat in on the lecture.  And decided that his wonderful teaching style she praised him for a few weeks ago is not horrible.  So now he has to turn in his weekly lesson plans for her to review.
Anyone who has done people management will go WTF?! You can’t go from one extreme to the next without causing some legal issues for yourself.  Especially over one complaint by one parent.  A high performer to a low performer in a short amount of time does not make a bad employee especially when the employee has a history and a record of being an exceptional performer.  
She claims it is coming from everywhere.  G knows it is one parent.  The language is from one parent.  And given the focus, he is quite familiar with this parent’s MO where the IEP is concerned.  She wants more than the IEP dictates.  The kids has a learning disorder.  He is not low in IQ or behind in his learning.  In fact, her older son gets out performed by his brother quite routinely.  Yet, she wants the IEP to read like a kid who has severe learning delays.  There is a reason why it doesn’t – it’s because it shouldn’t.  The kid needs more time on tests.  He needs the ability to use his aids that allow him to work past his learning disorder.  He needs a different way to express what he knows. All of these things are accommodated.  Yet the kid will not do the work or use what is given to him. 
In addition to the lesson plans, he was to review all of the kids with IEP and demonstrate to her how he accommodates them in his classroom as “there are gaps all over the place in what he is doing and what is to be done thereby putting the school at risk for lawsuit.”
He went through every single IEP.  He found one that had recently had “receives teacher’s notes” in it that had not been there before. For all of the rest, he meets the IEP requirements in his classroom.  When he took that back to the principal, her response was “see, you weren’t on top of it if you found one change.”
Turns out none of the other teachers who have this child were informed of the change – so they were all in violation.  He notified the other teachers, CC’d the principal, and tripled checked the IEPs to ensure there were no others.  There were not.
G has a long history with parents with kids on IEP. A long GOOD history with them.  He is always flexible and willing to find a way for a kid to succeed.  In fact, if some of these parents were to hear what is going on, they would be appalled given their own child’s experience with him.  G takes classes to learn new techniques to teach kids who don’t learn like the rest.  He implements them.  He likes understanding how to engage all parts of the brain with his kids as he reaches kids traditional methods don’t.  
But despite all of that, one parent has convinced everyone he is a problem.
More fill-in-the-blank worksheets!
Listening to all of this last night, I kept shaking my head.  While I’m not a fan of our education system as I find it out dated and falling apart for a reason (it’s past its prime), no matter what job I’ve had in my life, a percentage of it is not exciting.  It’s boring.  It’s like taking out the trash – needs to be done.  Learning is the same way. Some of it is going to be exciting – and some is gonna be what it is – a lecture, a story, reading a boring book. And sadly, there is sometimes no way around the task – just has to be done.  
Toss into the mix the helicopter parents who hover regardless of the kid’s age – who expects everything to be spoon-fed to the kid – and it’s a mess. At the end of the day, the teacher can lead the kid to water, but they can’t make them learn.
So, G is now spending all of his time trying to avoid making his class about note taking while at the same time trying to teach in a way that is going to get his administrator off his back.  
Generally speaking, teachers go into teaching because they love to teach – they like the light-bulb moment where a kid who has struggled gets it.  They do it for that reward.  Because they don’t do it for the pay (and I don’t give me shit about the math of their true salary because of their time off and that bullshit – because I’ll tell you stories that will make you understand how there is no decent pay in education).  
I just wish they would find balance.  I wish they would seriously consider kids who have IEP needs like Dana fights with (see her blog – link on the side) – and I wish the parents who demand and get the crap their kids don’t need are told to shut up so the resources can go where they should.  
And I wish parents in general would understand – that teachers like G, teachers who know what school these kids will go to in a few years – would understand that they are trying to prepare them for High School where lectures happen and teachers don’t give twenty chances to turn in homework. Because we need to prepare kids for the future – not focus only on the here and now coddling.  
Ask my kid if she has heard this lecture before.  Because she has.
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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Dana says:

    *smh* As a parent who has been navigating special education and the IEP process for TEN long years, I have learned much. First and foremost? Administrators routinely and consistently impede teachers’ ability to teach. IEPs can be tricky. I am an odd duck who has actually requested the district do LESS for my son. Yes, sometimes things slip through the cracks (my experience is this usually happens with first or second year teachers). We had an issue earlier in the year where Cam was transferred into another class and the teacher was not made aware of his IEP (I blame that on the administrators).

    I appreciate teachers like G – those who use a multitude of teaching strategies to reach ALL of the kids (kids on IEPs aren’t the only ones who benefit) – and it irritates me that the good ones are often singled out because they aren’t kissing administrators’ (and sometimes parents’) asses.

  2. Chapter Two says:

    My teacher husband has only wanted to quit the past few years. every complaint from a parent – legit or absurd has come back to my husband. what happened to admin stepping in, taking the hits- telling parents to back off a bit…letting them calm down and see both sides? it is ridiculous. teachers don’t get paid enough for this shit (always on my soap box!)

  3. I could feel the tension when I read this post. What a mess. I hope this passes quickly.

    re: Chapter Two’s question, “What happened to admin stepping, taking the hits…” lawsuits happened, sadly.

What do you think?