Dear Parents, Respect For Teachers Must Be Taught At Home

Dear Parents, Respect For Teachers Begins At Home cover image

Overcrowded class sizes. Incredibly low pay. Increased state testing. These are just a few things that teachers, sadly, expect to deal with when choosing to enter the education field. But, in the year of 2018, you can add another item to the long list of cons of being a teacher and this one sits right at the top. What is this growing grievance that teachers deal with on a daily basis?  That would be a giant lack of R-E-S-P-E-C-T from students, parents, and the community at large. Somewhere, our heavenly Queen of Soul is rolling over in her grave because of our inability to listen to her iconic lyrics of wisdom.

According to the 2017 Educator Quality of Work Life Survey, over 50% of teachers felt somewhat or extremely disrespected by state and federal elected representatives, local and national media, and U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. If we zoom in to the local level, only 23% of teachers strongly agreed that they felt respected by their local school board. And less than half of the respondents strongly agreed that they felt respected by their supervisors.

Educator Quality of Work Life Survey chart

via 2017 Educator Quality of Work Life Survey

So, what does this mean? How do we change the local and national culture that gives little to no respect for the education field as a whole? For me, the answer is easy – we start with parents.

As a teacher, it is very easy to tell which parents respect teachers and which ones view teachers as a glorified babysitter or someone who couldn’t get into med school. Respect shouldn’t be something you just assume a child will give to anyone. Students need to see their parents model and practice it in their everyday lives. As someone who teaches at a private school where the cost of tuition is over $15,000, I see the types of careers these students are told to emulate at a young age. Go to Harvard. Become a lawyer, a doctor, or an engineer. Being a teacher is something that most people assume you fall into after other, more aspirational careers don’t pan out.

But, I didn’t fail at things before wanting to become a teacher. In fact, I became a teacher because I wanted a career where I could impact the most people in my short time here on Earth. Can I perform brain surgery? No. Can I diffuse a meltdown in under 3 minutes? WATCH ME. I deserve some damn respect because who else can dry some tears, take care of a skinned knee, and teach a lesson on the importance of kindness, all before the 8 a.m. bell rings?

Woman coping with multitasking.

So, parents, it’s time you step up to the plate. Teachers are happy to continue teaching your child about respect and other traits that will get them far in life, but we need a foundation that we can build upon. We can’t possibly teach something that you don’t reinforce at home. We start at ground zero every day if a partnership is not at play. Without your child’s respect, we have nothing. Without YOUR respect, we have nothing.

The first steps of change start in our immediate communities. We can’t expect the federal government’s opinions on teachers to change if our own parents don’t respect the grueling work we do on a weekly basis. Parents, I urge you to have a conversation with your child about what respect looks like in a classroom. Yes, Christmas gifts and Starbuck cards are nice, but the biggest gift you could ever get me is raising a respectful student.

Respect cover

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Veteran Legend

Abigail Courter is a fifth year music teacher at a K-8 private school in California.  She has taught general music, band, music technology, and performing arts.

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