It's Teacher Appreciation Week, and as the school year winds down, there seem to be more teacher-related stories than usual circulating online. The most high-profile example involves the "Boston Marathon Dad," Mike Rossi, who more or less told his children's principal to go fuck himself after receiving a standard form letter stating that his kids' vacation absences were unexcused. Rather than simply read the letter, which outlined the school's totally basic absence policy, Rossi chose instead to retort with a public hissy fit he posted on Facebook that amounted to, "I'm extra special, and so are my children, thankyouverymuch." (Since his letter went viral, Rossi's Marathon qualifications have been called into question, which is what happens when you're a douche on the internet and people start digging to undermine you.) The funny thing about this incident is that the moment I read the story, I wanted to volley Boston cream pies at Mike Rossi's face, so I was surprised to learn that in some corners of the internet, he was being hailed as a hero.
Hero? No. More like a self-important Dad of the Year who can't handle being reminded of school protocol via a run-of-the-mill district letter. One person on the STFUP Facebook page even added, "But at the same time, parents have the right to decide if they want to take their kids on a vacation without the school giving them shit for it." Um, okay? Except no, not okay. We should all be grateful that these types of policies are in place so that students receive the education they deserve. That's all these letters are about. They're not necessarily damning parents for taking kids out of school -- even though kids get a ton of time off for breaks -- because sometimes things do come up and vacation choices are made. No one is even arguing the unquestionable benefits kids reap from taking trips to national monuments or experiencing new cultures. The letters are just reminders that kids *should be in school,* and the more school days kids miss, the more work it is for them to catch up.
It's also a subtle reminder that in order for kids to catch up on classwork, teachers must take some extra time out, too. And yet, despite these obvious details, Rossi took the letter personally and had a condescending temper tantrum for which he was initially lauded. It's times like these that I realize just how few people step off their soapbox to look around and realize they're not the only parent(s) on the planet. No one's kids are The Most Special, and taking children out of school to show them the world or watch their dad run a race he may or may not be qualified to run doesn't make anyone The Best Parent, either. Sorry! This is one of those times when it's good to know when NOT to brag. It's cool if you want to pull your kid out of school, load him up on life lessons, and pat yourself on the back for teaching him about breaking the rules; just don't act like a self-important, braying donkey when the district inevitably sends a boilerplate letter noting his absence.
And speaking of knowing when not to brag, on the other end of the spectrum you've got parents like Chiquita Hill, who recently called the police to pretend to arrest her son for talking back to his 5th grade teacher and then posted photos of him weeping and sitting in a patrol car on Facebook. Although Mike Rossi would probably never do such a thing (#1 Dads don't call the cops on their Harvard-bound kids), both parents share the same attitude that off-the-grid and supposedly ingenious parenting should be rewarded via Facebook shares and Likes. If Chiquita Hill really wanted to show her son's teacher some appreciation, she wouldn't have made a spectacle out of his punishment. (And if she really wants her son's attitude to improve, she wouldn't use fear to correct his behavior, JUST SAYING.)
Maybe some parents could use a quick refresher on the role they play in their children's lives versus the role academics and teachers play. Call it 'Teacher Appreciation 101.' No cheating, whining, or Facebook back-patting allowed. Let's check out some of the ways that parents can misunderstand these roles in the hopes that others will avoid making the same social media faux pas. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all the teachers and administrators out there (including my own retired teacher mom)! There'd be no formal learnin' without you.
1. Tired Parents > Tired Teachers
If there's one form of mommyjacking I don't recommend, it's teacherjacking. I know you "don't know true love or hard work blah blah blah" until you're a mother, but one could also argue that "you don't know tired" until you've taught dozens of students in an average day, times five days a week, plus homework. Because my mom was a teacher, she had summers off, and you better believe she didn't consider pushing me out the door with a Popsicle in each hand to be nearly as exhausting as grading term papers and teaching a bunch of hormonal teenagers. Even though I know Lori is joking and I approve of her use of the smiley face, I still think it's not really a joke worth making. Yes, parents are totally exhausted by the end of summer, but teachers pick up the slack the other nine months out of the year.
2. Sara Knows Best
On the face of it, I have no problem with what Sara is saying. Her professional experience is telling her that her kid's story hour could be better, and she may very well be right. But, here's the thing: I have a few friends like Sara in my newsfeed, and every time one of them posts some shit like this, I'm not convinced they're right. I'm only convinced that THEY think they're right. I meanl, if Sara is capable of making this "professional judgment," shouldn't she also be equipped to deal with it without consulting her every acquaintance on Facebook? Isn't that what a real pro would do? Kimberly even seems a bit skeptical, like she might be thinking, "Oh, get over yourself, Sara. We all know you're the best story time reader in the freaking universe." Parental involvement in academics can be great, but not when you're shoving your nose into someone else's filler story hour during art class. Besides, something tells me young Jack has had no shortage of animated, top-of-the-line, Grade A story times in his short life thus far.
3. Why Can't Teachers Stop Skipping School?
Even though it's too long, I thought this discussion was worth posting because it shows the fine line teachers must ride in order to keep their private lives private. I seriously doubt Kimberly would prefer her son come home once a week to report that his teacher left early for another round of chemo, or to check on her mother in the ICU. Teachers don't teach because it's the easiest job in the world. Much like parenting, it's often thankless, and most teachers would do everything they can to be in the classroom with their students, no matter what. That's why, if your child's teacher is absent more frequently than normal, it might be nice to just ask him or her if everything is okay before complaining to the principal. Or, god forbid, don't say anything at all, and teach your kid that people have other stuff happening in their lives to remind them they're not the center of the universe, like Katie did. Whatever you do, don't rant about the teacher on Facebook. It's worse than passing notes in class, especially if the teacher is going through something serious. I'm fairly certain 'A' will survive.
4. Teacher Appreciation Burritos
Chipotle thought it was doing teachers a service by offering discount specials for Teacher Appreciation Day -- until it faced a swarm of homeschool instructors who wanted in on the nacho-cheesy action. Is Chipotle not an Equal Opportunity Burrito Bowl Franchise? Does it not support all teachers who are making a difference in students' lives? What about Crossfit trainers? Do they get to indulge with extra guacamole on Teacher Appreciation Day? I hope Chipotle knows that it has a real opportunity here to make a statement that all teachers are of equal importance, regardless of qualifying teaching credentials. Like, okay, yes, teachers who got their Master's in Early Education *might* be more "qualified" than Home Educators (proper noun, y'all) with a teaching certificate, but honestly, that's not what this is about. This is about discounts on tacos. Will Chipotle be on the right side of history on Teacher Appreciation Day?
DAMN YOU, CHIPOTLE! You had the chance to break new ground with your burrito bowl discount and you FAILED! This makes me literally sicker than the time I read about the amount of sodium and calories in most Chipotle meals. Just you wait, Chipotle. Homeschool teachers will open their OWN taco stand where all homeschool teachers will get discounts every day and then you'll be sorry. Until then, families like Kelsi's will just keep eating at Chipotle anyway. Fuck it.
5. God Help This Chick, Australia Edition
I want a t-shirt with one of those '50s moms on it that says "that's not good at all some teachers" with no punctuation. It sums up everything that's wrong with moms like Richelle, whose typical response to a confusing report card is "You disgust me!!!" rather than, "Note to self: Ask my kid's teacher why she thinks my kid can't read time." Some kids act differently around their teachers than they do at home because they're shy. Some kids don't actually know as much as their parents think they do. And some teachers are overworked and could probably be better at their jobs. Whatever the case is with Richelle's kid will surely be communicated once Richelle marches in and "goes off her brain" on his teacher in front of her boss. That'll show her!! Do you know what time it is, Joel's inept teacher? Time for you to answer some serious questions. Bet you wish you paid more attention to Joel's clock-reading skills now, bitch!
6. The Best Mum In Manchester
Ugh. Okay, so for every "Boston Marathon Dad of the Year" we've got a "Machu Picchu Mum of the Year" in the UK. No big surprise there. What I find so funny is the astonishing similarity in both of their Facebook posts. She even uses the words "pat myself on the back," which is what this is really all about. Regardless of what Carl says, which is true (and which this mum clearly understands, as a teacher herself, though she didn't specify what age she teaches), the issue isn't so much a showing of disrespect for the rules as it is a declaration of pride for being soooo cool and taking her kids on this wonderful trip. I have no doubt the trip was educational, exciting, and worth every penny, but I don't need to read a sanctimonious, long-winded justification to know that. Just post a picture of your family at Machu Picchu, quietly pay the City Council fine, and keep the back-patting to yourself. After all, there is one thing they don't teach in school, and it's called humility. I'm guessing this mum's kids will learn that on their next big trip to Tokyo.