A Teacher’s Reflection at the End of the Week

This week at school the majority of my students successfully completed what was, for them, a challenging writing assignment. I’m grateful for this.

This week at school I also spent a lot of my time chiding, scolding, disciplining and otherwise managing any number of students who were acting rudely, being lazy, distracting themselves or others or otherwise not focusing on their work.

The students who worked during the time provided and concentrated on the task at hand produced, well before the deadline, mini-essays of which they can be proud. The other students who didn’t make good use of their time, didn’t turn anything in, turned in incomplete work or turned in work that belied their complete lack of effort.

All of this is to say that the disparities in their production are not, I believe, a result of my teaching. They are a result of their innate ability and, more than anything else, the way their parents have raised them. Each day I pass in the classroom I am more and more convinced: we do not have failing schools in America, we have failing parents.

Please, parent your damn children. I love them and will work hard for them but I can’t fix the harm you’ve done to them in 50 minutes a day, 5 days a week (less holidays, budget reduction days, teacher in-service days and summers). Teach your child to be curious, kind, hard-working and respectful. Do not expose them to profanity, obscenity, pornography, violence or anything else that will cripple and distort their impressionable minds and hearts. For God’s sake, do not abuse drugs and alcohol around them. And certainly do not let them abuse drugs and alcohol themselves. Do not carry on romantic relationships with abusive partners in the home where your children live. Give them healthy food. Read to them.

Your children are not my responsibility. They are yours.

I will teach them English — you have to teach them to be kind, work hard and, I pray, love Jesus. If your children come to my class functionally illiterate, emotionally wounded and stunningly, pervasively, unceasingly lazy, don’t blame me if they’re still reading at a 3rd grade level by the end of 8th grade.

Let me say it again: I love your children. I love teaching. I will work hard and not complain. I will keep turning the other cheek to your kids regardless of their behavior. I will pray for them.  But, I beg of you, be a damn parent to your poor children.


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