When Good New Is Sad: Parents #1

A mother crying over her son the way many parents do.This is about the emotional toll of ‘Back to School Night’, and the fine parents I met there.  Fine parents?  Say what?  You thought I was going to go on about the crazy parents I’d met.  Let’s save that one (well – there’s a lot more than one).

So, what was the good news that was sad?  I’d be talking with friends and saying that last night was ‘Back To School Night’ and they’d ask, “How did it go?”  It was a good night when I could say, “It went pretty well.  I didn’t make anybody cry!”

I wasn’t trying to make anybody cry.  It’s just that sometimes an honest answer is… bad news – and too many times I’d see good, caring people (parents and kids) weep in pain and frustration.  For example:

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School Is Funky

School is Funky - Boy Holding NoseClassroom management can be disrupted by the funky nature of kids.

Yes, school is funky!  Now, I’m not talking about funky as in the syncopated stylings of a James Brown or a Tower of Power.  No, no dear friends.  I’m talking about the kind of funky that leaves sticky fingerprints all over the place, or smells bad, or leaves unpleasant stains on your clothes.  Hey, we’re dealing with human life at school and life is messy.

I’m bringing it up here because too many reform initiatives and criticism of teachers don’t take this funky human element into account.  Sometimes we teachers have to dress for the occasion, which can make us look a bit unprofessional or unfashionable.  I was lucky to have worked with some very conscientious plant managers but even the cleanest school can be an incredible source of dirt and funk.  I’ve already written about the time I found black mold in a book cupboard.  But we also get dirty dealing with dusty books and shelves, crawling around on the floor plugging in computers, projectors and TVs, or just cleaning up after the hoards of youngsters who storm through our classrooms on a daily basis.  Please remember, it takes time and energy to deal with the funk.  In an effort to save time when dealing with some of it, I invented the ‘Gum Museum’.  But before I tell you about the ‘Gum Museum’, let me give you some human background (which you may already know about but maybe haven’t considered from a classroom management perspective).

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