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On Things Heard in the Teacher’s Lounge

I don’t hang out in the teacher’s lounge. Most days I forget to eat lunch anyway, but I do go there to make copies and while I am in there I usually hear something I can’t hear, and then I have to display maturity and keep my mouth shut. I miss the days of my youth when I could just say whatever I felt like.
Anyway, here is the problem with this. Every time teachers get blamed for what is wrong with our schools I get kind of pissed. Convenient scapegoat folks! COULD IT ALSO POSSIBLY BE THE FACT THAT YOU REFUSE TO PAY FOR THE EDUCATIONS OF THE POOR?! Even my students understand that disproportionality means there is a social cause, not one of individual choice.

Now with that said, teachers are part of the problem. Teachers are part of the problem because, although they often really like kids or at least really like what they teach, they believe fervently in the dominant narrative that is oppressing the kids in the first place. In other words, they are often perpetrating the system. Sometimes they don’t want to but they do. Sometimes they want to and do it very successfully.

Teachers are also people, and our job is delicate and extremely stressful. They make mistakes, but if we make mistakes we are doing serious, permanent damage to the kids in some cases. If you are like me, that makes you very cautious, thoughtful, and stressed out, but if you are not aware you might take your issues out on the kids without knowing We are also incredibly important role models, if you don’t have your issues in check, you are in a position of authority and that isn’t going to help them. This is one of the things I love about teaching, the kids keep me in line. They’ve forced me to mature.

A great example of this is the 50 million horrible things I hear teachers say all day about their male students. This is PART OF the reason my AP classes are a quarter male, which no one but me seems to be disturbed by. The other horrible things are how often I hear teachers, both and female, slut shame or judge their female students on their appearance. Which should never, ever, happen and yet it does all the time.

I’ve heard teachers take out their issues on students, just this last week I heard a teacher call a student “not that special and full of himself” and she said “he’s been quieter this year and I like it.” He’s probably been quiet this year because he’s figured out that you hate him. I’ve had annoying students, but there is a big difference between “this kid is annoying” or “this kid needs to learn to be less of a douchbag but society reinforces that” and saying that an academically successful Hispanic male student thinks too highly of himself for doing well. A big difference.

Then there are the things that hurt teachers. Like the female teachers who come to school every day and “joke” about how frustrating it is that they “have to work.” This is bad for me because it means people take my work less seriously. If you don’t want to work, and you’d rather be in a cushy position until you marry, and you just want to raise kids, for the love of God do whatever you want, but teaching really isn’t the profession to be in. That makes the rest of us out to be essentially 1950s secretaries instead of serious intellectual professionals.

The fact that I hear this stuff so many times a day means they are mainstream. I got tattled on earlier in the year for suggesting that I would scaffold for my kids who aren’t traditional AP students, but it is perfectly acceptable as a staff to say bigoted things, or mean things about the kids, or to say things that suggest that you see your job as a kind of place holder before you find a rich husband. Also, kids aren’t allowed in the teacher’s lounge, but they close enough to hear this stuff, and that attitude will pervade your work so it isn’t like you aren’t taking that into the classroom. If you do want to do this stuff please do me a huge favor and wait until you are home. It’ll make it easier for me to hold down my lunch.

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