Teachers Are Incredible, But Not All Educators Are Created Equal

by Diana Park
Originally Published: 
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When I was in second grade, I had a stuttering problem and my teacher constantly asked me to read out loud in front of the class. Once, when I was really stuck on a word, she asked me if I was “retarded.”

It was clear she didn’t like me — my whole year with her was hell. I finally went to my mother to tell her after getting my head slammed down on a desk (it was the ’80s and as punishment, there were times the whole class had to put their heads down on the desk for five minutes to chill out) after I didn’t comply fast enough. My teacher got a slap on the wrist for her behavior and stayed in the same school teaching for another decade, until she was finally fired for bullying one of her students in class.

My son had a teacher in 6th grade who clearly didn’t like him. When he first mentioned that he knew his teacher didn’t like him because he wasn’t good at sports like a lot of his friends, I blew it off thinking he was being oversensitive.

Then, I noticed his teacher would call me a lot over silly things — he was tipping his chair back in class, he was talking too much, he seemed “too excited” the day before Christmas vacation.

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I have three kids close in age so there have been many years where one of my kids has had a teacher, then another one gets them the following year, or the year after that.

Generally, I’m the mom who takes the side of the teacher, and I will never play “Not my kid,” because I do know my kids and I know they have the potential to be little assholes. Hello, I live with them.

There have been a few times when it’s very obvious they aren’t jiving with their teacher. I get it, I do.

However, as a parent, when you and your child have a year with a teacher who is bullying them, singling them out, or treating them unfairly, you know it.

We need to talk about the bad teachers — the ones who don’t make our kids feel safe. The ones who make our kids feel dumb. The ones who don’t help a student out by encouraging them when they see them struggling. There was a recent post on Twitter about this very thing, and people were popping off about it:

This is appalling on so many levels. I can only hope that teacher knows (and does) a hell of a lot better now.

This is every parent’s worst nightmare. They leave their kids in the hands of adults who are supposed to be trained to handle these situations with a lot more grace. Even if they aren’t sure what to do, this is not how you handle it.

I’d step in if I heard someone say this to someone on the street. I cannot imagine why a teacher would ignore this plea for help.

This totally makes my day and I would have done the same. And it makes me think, I wonder if the teacher who asked me if I was “retarded” for struggling with reading knows I make my living as writer…

This goes to show that even teachers aren’t above mean girl behavior.

The posts and replies to this tweet went on and on. Everything from humiliation to teachers putting their hands on kids. Are you appalled yet? I certainly am.

There are so many amazing teachers who give their blood, sweat, and tears to our children. But, the bad ones do exist, and if our kids don’t speak up about it, and if we don’t speak up about it, who will?

These things are still happening, which is a pretty scary thought considering it’s 2021. There’s a lot more support, though; I found the two times I had to go to the principal over my concerns about the way my kids were being treated (it happened twice), they respected me and my child and the situation was rectified.

It was a long way from when my mother did the same thing in 1982 and literally nothing happened to the teacher (I just dealt with it and counted down the days until the end of school). This experience made me feel like I didn’t have a voice as part of my school and that I didn’t have a voice as a child.

We will do better for our kids. Yes, there really are bad teachers out there. It’s okay to admit that, and to remind our kids they do have a voice and it’s okay to use it.

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