Monday, November 18, 2013

Taking Responsibility in Schools

As a teacher, I'm always amazed that so many people don't want to take responsibility for their actions. Some of my students find inane excuses for not doing assignments or homework.  Maybe part of it is our busy lifestyle, but some of it is also a desire to avoid work and then blame someone else.  I've actually heard students say, "My grade dropped because she gave me a zero on my homework." Well, the student had a zero because he/she didn't do the homework. Sorry, Sugarplum, but that was your responsibility to do the work in a timely fashion.

Don't get me wrong.  Kids are not alone in this. An incident involving students lying was almost totally ignored by a disciplinarian at a certain school.  Her response to the teacher was, "Why don't you email the students and speak to them? You know the details." Well, the teacher did speak to the girls, but she wouldn't see them until last period.  The instructor more than willing to speak to them, but this wimp also needs to do so. She has the real power.  The teacher explained that she would be in class as a teacher and a sub nearly the whole day.  Couldn't THE DISCIPLINARIAN call the girls down and speak to them with the teacher at a specific time when the teacher was out of class? Why do some people collect a paycheck if they are so inept? The teacher had caught the deception and dealt with it as best she could, but a higher authority also needed to take control when the incident involved lying and a direct violation of school policy.

Too many people in authority have no guts.  Another friend of mine was denigrated by a parent while the principal stood by, doing nothing.  The principal feared the parent and was more than willing to see a veteran teacher smeared by a parent upset because his child had a C.  Gee, Mister, did you think your kid was going to be valedictorian? Maybe the child needs to do her homework and take her tests.  Mr. Principal, you say you value my friend as a teacher, but you let a parent become almost violent.  Maybe you really want my friend--who is set the top of the pay scale--to quit.

Our society wants to hold teachers accountable for everything.  I'm a fan of accountability, but I also think we have to make students accountable for what they must do, and we need to make parents accountable, too.  Don't assume your child will pass an AP class and ace the national test when she doesn't do her homework or at least make an effort.  Don't assume every elective will be easy.  Your child might not pass if he or she doesn't work.  It's called "Creative Writing" for a reason.  Why has your child taken the class if he or she doesn't have a creative bone in his or her body or doesn't even want to make an effort.  I'll answer for what I must do in the classroom, but I'd love if someone else occasionally took responsibility.


  1. Viola, blog posts like this make me glad I'm no longer a teacher, because I think the whole accountability/responsibility thing has worsened during the past 20 or so years. People (and not just the kids!) want to blame anyone but themselves - and of course teachers make a "good" scapegoat. Forget parental responsibilities, forget the pressure the government is piling on teachers (with more and more paperwork to produce and the frequent stress-producing inspections), forget the reduced funding that many schools are having to cope with. It's easier to dump all the blame on the teachers! Where has society gone wrong?

  2. So true, Paula! There was a time when parents took on the kids for bad grades. Now, they do this to the teachers who are trying to teach kids who have no respect and little attention span. Plus, the paperwork is mind-boggling, and administrators (who haven't been in a classroom for 20 years) love telling us what we're doing wrong.