Parents: Please Stop Bashing Educators Online
If you ask anyone, they’ll tell you that being an educator is hard. As a middle school teacher, I am frequently reminded by friends and acquaintances that most people could not and would not be able to handle my job. They usually cite teenagers’ negative attitudes, class sizes, and low pay as the reasons they would never teach. And, certainly, these are some of the things that I complain about on a weekly basis. Test for guest post.
But you know what? I can live with these things. When I started teaching almost 20 years ago, I knew I would be overworked and underpaid.
What I didn’t know was that social media would come along and I would have my character, my professionalism, and my expertise publicly questioned by parents and social media keyboard warriors.
If the post is not true, it shouldn’t bother me, right? Wrong! It’s not easy to scroll past the posts and ignore them. So I read them. And then I read the replies. Sure, sometimes parents have valid complaints or misgivings. But usually, these are situations where children have skewed the truth in order to deflect blame from themselves onto the teacher. How do I know? Because I’m actually there. I witness the behaviors of the students. I see their interactions with teachers and administrators. I am on the inside. But I can’t get defensive and I cannot breach confidentiality by talking about a student’s behavior publicly.
Parents can name teachers by name and throw out serious career-threatening accusations on social media. They can complain that the school is filled with soulless, uncaring, incompetent fools. They can paint us as villains, but we cannot comment or post or defend our colleagues. This is partly due to a desire to maintain professionalism and partly because we do not want to put ourselves in the position to be harassed by adults on Facebook.
There was a time when, if a parent had a concern, he or she would contact the teacher and discuss it. We are human. We make mistakes. We misunderstand and we can be misunderstood— it happens. But that’s not how things go anymore. Now, people go straight to Facebook posts, tagging the school board, and alerting the media.
Don’t get me wrong— there are bad people out there who also happen to be educators. I don’t think anyone should hide actual illegal activity. But most often, that’s not the case. A lot of times the posts are attempts on the parts of parents to get their children out of some sort of consequence or to get a grade changed.
By all means, advocate for your child. Contact teachers and administrators and have meetings. Talk to us. It’s what we are here for— to work together with you to help your child to grow academically, emotionally, and socially. Let’s collaborate to make sure your child makes the grade. Let’s attend to your child’s emotional needs so that he or she can learn to navigate social situations and make good choices.
But please, please, please stop abusing us and attacking us online. With this national teacher shortage, you need us. Your kids need us. I assure you, the vast majority of us are in the field because we enjoy working with kids and making a difference in their lives. We want to be part of the betterment of society.
But we are growing increasingly weary.
We are people with feelings and with emotions and with lives that extend beyond the bricks of the school building.
We are working so hard.
We are trying our best.
We see your posts.
We are hurt by your words.