Saturday, November 11, 2006

Back Seat Teachers

When you go to the doctor, do you snatch the x-rays, throw them up on the lighted wall thingy, and start pointing out the possible cancerous formations in your lungs? When you go out to eat, do you run into the kitchen and start dicing tomatoes? When you go to the mechanic to get your car fixed, do you hang out under the hood, ask the mechaninc to hold the flashlight while you go about rebuilding your carburetor?

I know, I know. As teachers, going out to eat has a different meaning for you, and your carburetor is shot, your transmission is shot, and you're driving around on three bald tires and the spare from the trunk. But, just pretend you had money to enjoy a meal and/or keep your car in working order. If you did, wouldn't you trust the doctor, chef, and/or mechanic to do their job with relatively limited oversight on your part?

I ask, because, apparently my professional credentials are non-existent. I have all sorts of parents looking to run the show in my classroom. Some days I think I could simply scrap my lesson plans and read from the all the emails that have teaching advice from parents. The parents, bless 'em, are full of helpful suggestions.

Maybe I should assign less homework.

Maybe I should assign more homework.

Maybe we should read less American authors in American Literature ("How about something from Homer?").

Maybe I should lecture more.

Maybe I should lecture less.

I'm half expecting my class size to double one morning as all of the students' parents join the fray, scribbling notes as the class progresses and, right before the bell rings, holding up numeric cards denoting my score for that day's lesson.

Amélie's mother gave a 3.2?! Well, she's always been notoriously tough when judging your ability to scaffold on students' prior knowledge.

Look. I'm glad they care. But please, let me do my job. I didn't drive myself into massive student loan debt, earning a degree and obtaining a job that does little to alleviate said debt, so that I could be second and third guessed every second of my work day (and beyond).

Granted, like incompetent mechanics, incompetent teachers can likely be found if you try hard enough. But parents give me a break. It's not as if I'm out there trying to install a new "Johnson Rod" on your car.

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