HRS SYNDROME

HIDE behind your computer. RANT paragraphs on your entitlement to privilege and hit SEND!

So let me rant…just kidding. But I do want to address vitriol emails AGAIN. As I shared in my book Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!, I probably lost my last job due to five parents complaining about my choice of who got solos, talent show performers and how I supported my program through fundraising. These caustic emails, sent to my passive/aggressive administrator, ultimately ended my career as a 46 year teacher. I now label these self-righteous parents (and some administrators) with HRS SYNDROME: HIDE behind your computer, RANT paragraphs on your entitlement to privilege and hit SEND. Now fast forward.

I am a vocal coach with a studio of 15 students. After my forced retirement, my studio is a wonderful opportunity for me to continue teaching singers young and old. A few weeks ago, one of my HRS SYNDROME parents decided to attack me. It’s not worth the time nor the energy to share why this parent went after me in such a demeaning way. But here’s the good news: I AM NO LONGER EMPLOYED AS A TEACHER IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS! When I worked in education, the public schools forced me to absorb these vitriolic emails, ever since the installation of the internet! Seldom, if ever, did an administrator support me. These HRS SYNDROME parents loved to rail at me around 7 a.m. so I could percolate on their message, while I taught school for six hours, having no time to defend myself from the attacks. Did it effect my teaching? Of course it did. I found myself previewing my remarks before they made it through the airways so students would clearly understand my every instruction. This created a stumbling, mumbling, inarticulate instructor, with loss of confidence and some days near tears. How could any parent assume the teacher of their child is a moronic, vindictive imbecile? Whereas those words were never used, the translation was clear: my child is perfect, I am entitled to scold you and you better do what I demand.

So how did I handle this newest HRS SYNDROME parent. After I tried to reason with this mother in two emails, I wrote the following: Don’t contact me again. Ever. It felt so good to have the right to disconnect from this acerbic parent. As a public school teacher, I never held that right. Today’s teachers are no different. The HRS SYNDROME parent (and sometimes administrator) prevail with teachers having no right to stop the madness. One solution: administrators need to step up and prohibit this kind of email behavior. I once had a principal who defended me by telling the hostile party to simply “shut up!” It worked and in my tenure at that school, I was never attacked again.

I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!, A fantastic book found at (Amazon/Barnes & Noble). Order your copy today. 14 FIVE STAR ratings. It won the 2020 Topshelf non-fiction book award. It’s a great read for students, parents, teachers and administrators.

Here’s a tease for my next blog:Three 20th century institutions which have been the ruination of our culture.

PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL . You can heaar this podcast at: paulabaack.substack.com. If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com! Please subscribe to my podcast: paulabaack.substack.com.

The Season of Our Discontent

The calming sunset of retirement for teachers is a false narrative for many.

Here are a few things I bet you didn’t know about teachers:

  1. We don’t make friends easy since no one wants to hang out with us due to our 24/7 schedule. And we’re usually exhausted anyway.
  2. Our social life is determined by summer weekends only. Most weekends during the school year we are preparing for the onslaught of the coming week. Or we have to supplement our low income with yet another job.
  3. Seldom do we make time for hobbies. Between raising a family and teaching, outside time rarely exists. When it does, usually we teachers just like to chill!
  4. We are defined, almost in total, by the title teacher. It’s a badge of courage and fortitude as we journey through admin who won’t support us, parents who demean us, colleagues who challenge us and a community who denies our very existence through low wages and poor working conditions.
  5. Right or wrong, we live vicariously through our students’ successes and failures. We love what we do but on many days we wonder why?! Oh, I remember: it’s the kids. Always the kids!

I met another retired teacher (36 years) a few days ago. Before our conversation ended, she was in tears. She cannot find herself in post retirement. Fighting back my own tears, I could only sympathize. Did she have friends as a support group? No. Did she have a hobby? Yes, but is seemed meaningless. The calming sunset of retirement for teachers is a false narrative for many.

All of the above is true for me at least. But instead of teaching 10-20 years, I rode the roller coaster of teaching for 46 years. I did have a plan for post teaching but unfortunately I didn’t prepare for my sudden departure brought upon by an admin who willingly threw me out without due process. Since my demise was made very public in local and regional news, my integrity was left in question. So I wrote a book about my myriad experiences as a teacher. I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!

Plan B was to market my book to universities, school boards, school staff meetings and the general public. It was going pretty well until Covid struck. I know that can be said about everything.

So enter Plan C. Writing a blog, doing a podcast and using social media seemed the best way to reach out to the public about how we can improve our educational system. Most days I fill the internet cloud with my philosophy of education, ways and means to attain better schools and ideas to stave off persecution of our most valuable asset: teachers. Am I making a difference? I don’t know. Hanging on to the “if one person is positively affected” just isn’t enough. My post teaching life’s purpose appears empty of validation.

Last week, however, cast a little light on my journey to leave the teaching world better than I found it. Two former students, both in their 20’s reached out to me. “John” is in the military and writing hip hop music. He shared a song he just completed. It was amazing. Great beats, fun instrumental backing and very cool vocals. John admitted he was a handful in school which is no exaggeration. But I always liked working with those kids who didn’t walk to the drumbeat of the perfect child.

And then two days later, “Sheila” tagged me in a Facebook post. In Messenger, she related how she still sang the songs we performed but now it was to her little boy. Oh my heart! Those words alone lifted my spirits but then she went on. Sheila shared that I had no idea how much I influenced her life in a most positive way. Actually, I did have some idea for Sheila also struggled in school trying to appease what was defined as “normal.”

So today, I challenge you: send a message, email or a letter to the teachers who affected your life in a positive way. Take the time to let them know they did make a difference and your orbit is better for crossing a caring teacher’s life journey. Do it. Right now. You now have the power to intersect a teacher’s life with words of affirmation. Trust me, we need those words. Everyday.