Teachers are often forced to deal with different kids in their classrooms based on something other than fairness. And I’m not talking about favoritism, here. I’m talking about repercussions from parents. More significant than the issue of equality within the class is the damage some parental reactions can cause to their own teenagers. Before you criticize teachers for being unfair, consider what they’re up against. Certainly, there are many in between, but here are a few parent reactions that make teachers cringe.
The kids with these kinds of parents may seem to get off easy from their peers, when that’s actually far from the case. When they get in trouble in the classroom, even for minor infractions, the parents find out and over-react to the extreme, sometimes with physical beatings or otherwise harsh punishments. I have to think these parents are responding out of personal pride: They don’t want their good names being disgraced.
When good teachers—the ones who really care about their students—find out about students who have parents like this, they’re less likely to fairly treat that student when disciplinary measures should be taken. This kind of inequity can increase the teen’s misbehavior at school and understandably frustrate his peers. Such frustration may lead to bullying or shunning, as the case may be.
Kids with these kinds of parents really do end up getting off easy. Anytime they come home with a less-than-stellar grade or comment on an assignment, their parents are ready to risk stalker charges being filed by the teacher. Disciplinary issues earn the same kind of attorney-like defense, often escalating small classroom issues to administrative concerns.
In the defense of defensive parents, they’re trying to help their kids; however, they’re not really helping them at all. Part of life is dealing with the results of your own actions, which sometimes means going to an authority and asking for reconsideration. A good teacher will listen to a student’s take and at least take the time to re-explain the reason for the low grade or detention.
Maybe these kids are the ones that good teachers appear to favor, and for good reason: Their parents don’t seem to care. Whether they call to communicate failing grades, emotional disturbances, or other problems, teachers can’t seem to motivate parents to get involved at all. Because they’re not getting the extra TLC at home, good teachers often try to step in and provide the extra nurture and motivation that they wished these students were getting at home. The very students who call “favoritism” are probably the ones with such great family situations that they can’t imagine anything else being the case.
Good teachers wish they could really treat all their students equally, but more, they wish their students all came from equally supportive and helpful families.
Photo credits: Top © SANJAY GOSWAMI / Fotolia. Bottom © Golden Pixels LLC / Fotolia.