Teachers are an authority figure feared not only by students but by many parents as well. This fear doesn’t come from the teacher’s influence on the child’s grade. The fear for parents has been hardwired into their brain from when they were in school. Kids are taught not to question authority or teachers from an early age. It sticks with a lot of parents even when they become adults. Now with this being said it’s been noticed that some teachers will use this fear to every advantage. They assume that if they mistreat the student and the student does tell the parents then the parent won’t do anything because of the fear that has been ingrained in their mind.
For example, I have a teacher and for the purpose of this post we shall call him “this guy”. Now this guy has routine binder checks every Friday just like most of my other teachers. To elaborate, I have one large binder that I take to school during the week (easier than carrying 7 smaller binders everyday). All my work goes into this binder and when I get home each day I place the work in separate smaller binders. On Friday I take the small binder for this guy to grade for routine binder check.
Last week however this guy changed the day without notice (a note on a back chalkboard saying the binders were due that day) and to add to this there was a substitute so I couldn’t explain the situation to this guy. I do understand that it is my responsibility to follow the classroom policy that this guy had made clear in the beginning of the year and I do follow the policy. I prepare my binder to be turned in and checked on Friday as stated in the policy. I knew I couldn’t change the fact that he was asking for it on Thursday, without notice, so I accepted there was a possibility I wouldn’t get full credit for my work by having to wait until Friday to turn the binder in. This is also another classroom policy; late work is accepted but usually receives less than full credit automatically.
I want to say that the system I use, of having one large binder and then turning in the smaller binders for binder check day, works much better for me personally (I will expand on this in a later post). If I had been given even a day’s notice or notice the evening before (our teachers are allowed and there is a system for emails) I would have had the binder there on Thursday. Anyways, I wasn’t able to give him my work on Thursday so on Friday I brought this guy my binder and explained my predicament. I followed through on my responsibility to bring him the work and accepted there was a possibility of receiving less than full credit, even though I didn’t agree.
This guy’s responsibility was now to grade the work but instead of following through on his responsibility, this guy stated to me “The grades are already in the book and there is nothing I can do.” This guy told me this because he assumed that he could change the policies whenever he wanted and there was nothing I could do about it nor would my mother bother with it either. This guy, like a lot of teachers, thought even if I did go to my mother she would do nothing because a lot of parents are still scared of teachers. Luckily I have a mother who will easily stand up for her children. When I explained what happened Friday, she sent this guy an e-mail that basically asked, “This is what my son has explained to me. Is this really what happened? And if so what are you going to do to fix it?” After this e-mail was sent this guy didn’t respond until Monday, three days after the e-mail was sent, and when this guy did reply all he did was apologize and agreed to fix the problem completely avoiding the entire topic of what he did or rather didn’t do. After a couple more e-mails between this guy and my mother, she got the entire story from this guy. This guy had changed the day without notice and had refused to check my work and grade it (both against the classroom policy). So much for nothing he could because grades were already turned in. That was just a lie he told to me to not have to follow through on his responsibility. I had already accepted that I would receive a lower grade, even though I disagreed with that I didn’t argue it, but it was wrong of this guy to not grade my work at all.
All that being said I feel I must address this: Students do not be afraid to tell you parents if something is wrong at school or you think a teacher is doing something wrong. You cannot expect your parents to telepathically know something is wrong. My mother wouldn’t have known had I not told her. Don’t assume your parents won’t help you.
Parents please don’t think the teacher is automatically right and your kid wrong. If your kid comes to you with a problem don’t blow it off as “teenage drama” actually investigate the problem and don’t be afraid to address teachers. They are more afraid of you then you think and when addressed they will almost always fix the problem, if they are in the wrong. If you know they are in the wrong and refuse to fix the problem then go over their head and talk to the principle. You may have been taught not to question authority but sometimes “the authority” is in the wrong and does need to be questioned.