I used to write for the newspaper, back in college. Chances are, I sucked royally, but it was fun, I learned a lot, and I met some awesome people. And sometimes there's something so simple and neat about a news story, so I thought it would be fun to try my hand at it again. Of course, since objectivity is key to a news story, even a spoofed one, I didn't write about my real feelings about what my kids did.
For me, this event has me thinking about the issue of teacher quality and the way bad teachers are protected. The teacher who is the subject of my students' anger has been the subject of my anger as well, for a range of reasons not worth detailing. I don't think my principal can do much, beyond encouraging this teacher to go on the open market. If this teacher worked in "corporate America" he'd be fired, probably, or at least demoted, for not carrying out the responsibilities of his position.
I am proud of what my students did. They organized themselves and expressed their frustrations in a constructive way. They could have used the teacher's inattentiveness, the clear lack of planning and interest in them, to really raise some hell. But they didn't.
Oddly, I feel a bit badly for Mr. X., because I am sure his feelings were hurt. But I really believe that he should have seen this, or something similar, coming. My class is a good group; I feel very lucky to have taught them. And I know from my years in the classroom that even kids who are not so well-behaved will respond when you come in prepared, with rules and structures and activities. Mr. X. is not a new teacher, and he should have known this too. And he had the advantage of teaching a subject that many of our kids want to learn.
I don't excuse the times that my kids have been truly disruptive, but I also understand that their bad behavior came from the fact that they spent an absurd amount of time learning to clean their instruments, even though they all had instrumental music as fifth graders. And things didn’t improve much from there.
When I see kids who are well-behaved with some teachers, and not with others, it obviously brings up the question: is it the kids or is it the teacher? I have always told my classes that if they can behave for me, then they can behave for all their teachers. But deep down I wonder if that's an unfair expectation on my part. If a teacher is ill-prepared, is it fair to expect the students to hold up their end? We all have bad teaching days, but for some teachers ill-preparation is their way of life. What is the solution?