Dear Annie: I am a teacher in a small town in New England. When I began my job, I thought it was the best job in the world. I spent a lot of time, money and effort to learn the skills to become an effective teacher, and I couldn't think of a better way to give back to my community.
Fast-forward a few years. Most teachers work very hard to plan quality lessons and to make sure that students are making progress in school, but the lack of basic respect in return is severely lacking. The worst of it doesn't come from students. It's hard to believe the appalling behavior from parents that school staff is expected to tolerate.
One recent incident really bothered me. A parent was upset because her child was not getting an A in a certain class. She named the teacher on a public chatroom and invited negative comments! Fortunately for the brilliant, wonderful and respected teacher, several community members came to their defense and let the poster know that her post was inappropriate.
Parents who post such negative comments never tell the other side of the story: that their child has many missing assignments, poor behavior or poor attendance. Often, the information they post is completely false. This type of behavior seems to be getting worse every year.
If parents have a legitimate concern about their child, they should call or email the teacher and have a conversation. If they want more information or further discussion, they should ask for a meeting and discuss their concerns civilly.
Yelling at school staff, defending your child's disrespectful or unsafe behavior, making threats and publicly posting your displeasure about school staff online is inappropriate and unacceptable. I can't imagine how these parents would feel if someone posted publicly about their child like this. — A Little Respect, Please
Dear A Little Respect: You deserve a lot of respect for your profession. Teaching is one of the most important jobs in our nation, so thank you for your service. You are shaping our youth and preparing them for the real world. These parents are way out of line and should know they are potentially hurting their children.
One of the most important lessons a parent and teacher can impart to their children and students is that mistakes are opportunities to try better the next time. This teaches kids resilience and helps them develop their self-esteem.
The goal is for every student to develop a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset. These terms are from Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, who says that when a student has a fixed mindset, they believe that their basic abilities, intelligence and talents are fixed traits, while students with a growth mindset believe their abilities and intelligence can be developed with effort, learning and persistence.
In a growth mindset, you believe a lasting relationship comes from effort and working through inevitable differences. In a fixed mindset, it's all about the outcome. If you fail, you think all effort was wasted. Those with a growth mindset know it's all about the process, so the outcome hardly matters.
If the parents try to rescue their children every time they don't get an A or don't make the team, they aren't helping their child. In fact, they're sending their children the message that they aren't capable of succeeding on their own.
Badmouthing a teacher on a public forum is one of the most tasteless and harmful things I have ever heard about. I am very sorry for your friend and glad that other people came to their defense. I hope this letter helps parents think twice before they swoop in to try to fix their children's inevitable imperfections.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]