Our nation expects teachers to pump out socially and academically competent students each year. Not only do they expect these standards, but they expect teachers to do it with minimal resources and income. Then when teachers fail to meet our expectations, parents and policy makers become angry at the teachers. However, because teachers are not valued and equipped to consistently perform at our nation’s high expectations, parents still have a large responsibility to check on their child’s education. My friend Bradley Kelly, COO and CMO of Colorworld Books, has often said, “Inspect what you expect.” Until our education system changes, parents need to inspect their child’s educational progress more, and expect more realistic outcomes from our teachers.
Who Is Responsible For Educating?
A friend of mine told me this story: Her teenager was failing Spanish class. After determining that he lacked engagement (typical high school struggles, haha), they called his teacher to see what else could be done. The teacher mentioned that he sits with a group of students who are very chatty and struggles to focus. After a quick conversation, they all decided the high school boy needed to move to a different desk in the room.
A bit later, their kindergarten aged child was having a similar problem. Several class assignments were turned in completely blank and my friend was concerned that her child wasn’t doing any work during the school day. After contacting the teacher, it was arranged to have her seat moved and to send unfinished work home.
Her husband’s gut reaction was be irritated with these teachers. Why weren’t they able to make this very easy decision themselves? Why did it seem like they were always having to contact the teachers to get their children noticed?
Well after a small chat and some reflection, they came to a very important conclusion. Teachers are paid to complete a service, just like any other job. Teachers are over worked, under paid, given huge classrooms with tons of unique learning struggles, and expected to pump out perfect students who can ace any standardized test.
Ultimately, my friend realized that their child’s education is their responsibility.
“Inspect What You Expect”
Educating children is the parent’s responsibility. Parents have to be actively involved to make sure they know what is actually going on in the classroom.
When we pay for a service we expect certain results. But teaching, like other services, requires parents to have to manage the service. Parents need to be active in the learning process. Maybe even more importantly, parents need to have realistic expectations about what can actually occur in a typical classroom.
Furthermore, teachers are just people. People who have bills to pay, kids they are trying to advocate for, medical issues, mental health struggles, etc. Since we know that teachers are not perfect, we as parents need to be ready to advocate for our own children. It’s ultimately our responsibility to ensure our children are educated.
Expect Realistic Outcomes
Careers in care, such as doctors or teachers, are held to a much higher expectation than other service related jobs. However, doctors and teachers are not a fair comparison. Placing the same performance requirements on teachers as we do doctors is insane.
When someone is hired for a service, we expect them to do a good job. Our expectations vary based on our investment. Doctors are required to attend more than double the amount of schooling as teachers, complete long residencies where they practice with another professional, and are paid a much larger wage than teachers. A surgeon performing a life saving surgery is expected to preform with upmost accuracy. Doctors have high expectations placed on them because they are paid high and have rigorous requirements to practice.
On the other hand, child care givers at the gym have minimal expectations from parents. They are expected to keep kids safe and relatively happy for an hour or two. A full time nanny is expected to act as a second parent and care for the child like so.
Currently, teachers are paid and treated like drop off child care and are expected to perform like doctors. If parents want to continue to place huge responsibility on teachers, our nation’s culture around education has to change.
If you are interested in learning how to “inspect” and “expect” better, you may want to check out my previous article on using greatschools.org more effectively.
Changing Our Values and Expectations
If our nation begins to value and treat teachers similar to doctors, our current expectations for education and teacher performance would be more reasonable. However, treating teachers like doctors would not mean parents could stop “inspecting” education. It would mean that teachers could handle higher expectations. Expecting teachers to manage children without parent reminders could be possible. But currently, it’s not.
Leave a comment! Do you agree? Are we expecting too much of teachers? Have you had an experience when a teacher was not performing well?
Special thanks to Bradley Kelly! Both for the opportunity I had to work with him and for his fantastic mantra: Inspect what you expect. While formulating this post, I just couldn’t think of a better way to say what needed to be said.