Thursday, August 05, 2010

Why we don't yell at teachers in public

The ever-helpful special-needs blog The Wrightslaw Way had a post today entitled Going Ballistic in a Public Forum - NOT Good Form! and I say, Amen to that. It gave me an unpleasant flashback to a Back to School night when my son was in first grade. Other parents in that class had a good gripe in that, due to personnel and space considerations, their kids had been kept in the same classroom for years instead of moving up to another self-contained class; meanwhile, younger kids (most noticeably my very small, very fidgety, just-up-from-pre-K guy) kept being added to the mix. I don't begrudge those parents their extreme pissed-offness ... but it was best directed at the special-education supervisor, in a meeting or a thoughtfully phrased letter. Yelling at the young teacher on Back to School night until you made her cry was just bullying, and the mom who did it damaged that class and my son in ways I've never entirely forgiven.

Yelling, anger, sarcasm, making a scene ... those things feel good, I know they do, and they give parents a feeling of power that is hard to come by. But they're a bad idea. They're never the best way to change the system. They always do damage to our ability to function as our children's advocates, even if they appear effective in the short run. We teach our children not to get down on the level of bullies, and we should take that advice ourselves. Treat those school personnel the way we would want them to treat us -- as partners, as knowledgeable professionals, as grown-ups.

Then, you know, start up a blog where you can pour out that venom in a more appropriate and anonymous venue.

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