DISCONTENTMENT, DOUBT AND DISRESPECT: A CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER FOR TEACHERS

November 22, 2021

Which comes first: irritability or insomnia? As a retired teacher, I still remember those days when angry parent email rants kept me from getting any sleep. Or well-meaning administration asking me to continually “reflect” (the most obnoxious word known to educators) on my teaching decisions, making me toss and turn preparing an appropriate response. 

But then there were the days I just woke up mad. I loved teaching and had for decades. However, something changed in the past 20 years. It’s taken me a few years, post retirement, to figure it out. I now know what those changes are and how they affect our culture in general and teachers, specifically. I think you can guess the first two.

The Internet and Email

Fast delivery ideas or comments, with no thought process attached and usually sent by those humans who hate in person confrontation but love a good one-sided rant.

Social Media

Multiple platforms designed for communication but hijacked by today’s purveyors of spin, ideology and deliberate misinformation. One of the prime instruments in today’s 21st century bullying, by both adults and kids, dismisses ideas and demeans anyone who does not conform to the ideology of the day.

Reality TV

Surprise! This shiny new genre appeared in the early 1990’s. In my estimation, this one invention has the most negative influence on our culture. Why? Where did our children (and their parents) learn shouting expletives, getting in someone’s face and demanding the right to talk over any thought which was construed as different? What our culture either forgot or never made an effort to research is that Reality TV is scripted to sell the genre to audiences who love to live vicariously through the caricatures of these so called “real” people and their fantasy events.

Teaching has always been challenging. The educator must have the following daily attributes, in order of importance:

  1. clear and concise classroom and time management
  2. sound subject pedagogy
  3. communication skills with colleagues, administration, parents and students both written and verbal 
  4. unconditional love and compassion for all children
  5. thick skin, dedicated determination to stay the course and not quit on those days when all of the above appear to mount a battle of discontentment, doubt and disrespect towards the human trying to teach

Now add Covid 19 to the mix of email, social media and reality tv. We can no longer sit on our derrières ,throw our hands up in frustration and wonder why teachers are leaving the profession in greater numbers than ever before. In my research of teacher shortages, school districts are hiring student teachers, paraprofessionals and yes, even custodians as substitute teachers. According to EducationWeek’s survey of teachers nationally, when asked about the likelihood that they’ll leave teaching in the next two years, 54 percent of teachers said they are “somewhat” or “very likely” to do so.

What is my life’s purpose? I fell into incredible circumstances when I was forced out of teaching by an over zealous administration and some colleagues who wanted me gone. I will spend the remainder of my life being a fierce advocate for teachers. The loss of America’s teachers in such high numbers must be a concern for the nation! I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! Check out my book for viable solutions to retain America’s teachers. TUNE IN SOON. Here’s a tease: How to get sleep on those nights of discontentment. 

PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL . If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com

My One Year Anniversary

God isn’t done with me yet!

November 9, 2021

One year ago today, I received my Covid positive results. I had a scratchy throat but no fever. For a couple of days previous, I just felt tired and run down. Why did I get tested with such minimal symptoms? Our little town provided testing, so really out of convenience, I received the swab.

Since retirement from teaching choral music in 2017, I’ve maintained my voice studio. Immediately I moved my students to Zoom, which actually turned out to be a challenging yet fun experience. Then came day number six.

I thought I was going to die. My head pounded, my heart felt like it would jump out of my chest and I couldn’t get out of bed. After all, mainstream media hammered into my very being that my morbidity rate was high. And then there was the death count which rolled across every major network for months on end. I did think my life was coming to an end but NOT because of my symptoms. What I experienced was the flu. Nothing more, nothing less, although fever never presented. But the media convinced me this was to be the end.

So why address my experience now, one year later? First and foremost, I thank God for not needing me in heaven quite yet. My so called “survival” forced me to stop taking life for granted. Secondly, I am puzzled by prepositions. Did people die FROM Covid or WITH Covid? It’s rhetorical so please do not feel compelled to lecture me. Did people with Covid panic and this fear exasperate their symptoms? Again, rhetorical. Lastly, did people just quit fighting because the media told us, ad nauseam, there was no hope? Step away from your keyboard because these are my thoughts and I’ve already addressed the HRS syndrome (Hide behind your computer, Rant and hit Send). So don’t even go there. Quite frankly, I think it may be years before any of us can ascertain how Covid became so deadly for so many.

In celebration of my one year Covid anniversary, this is what I learned:
1. When the networks are pouring unwanted and unmerited information on us, we must turn them off.
2. When social media hacks are deciding who can post and what they can say, we must remove ourselves from those platforms.
3. Fight the good fight. On days 6-10 of Covid, I made myself get up, shower and stay vertical as long as I could. Following good advice from reliable sources, I took care of myself by eating healthy (even though I had no taste or appetite), drinking a lot of water and spending a few minutes in the sun every day. Plus I continued my regimen of vitamins and minerals.
4. Most important: I had very intimate conversations with God. I know my life’s purpose and I have not completed it yet. My other purpose: grandchildren are young enough that they need my life’s perspective in their journey to adulthood. Simply put: I will not take my life for granted ever again. My favorite saying: I will not be a slave to fear for I am a child of God.

What is my life’s purpose? I fell into incredible circumstances when I was forced out of teaching by an over zealous administration and some colleagues who wanted me gone. I will spend the remainder of my life being a fierce advocate for teachers. I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!, TUNE IN SOON. Here’s a tease: It’s the season to be thankful.

PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL . If you’re experiencing unfair practices in your teaching position, please reach out to me at rescuetheteacher @yahoo.com!

Karma Baby, It’s Karma!

A Captured Audience Parent Learns a Lesson in Teacher Harassment

Picture, if you will, a teacher trying to constantly recover from hurtful attacks during her entire teaching career. As a choral director, any decisions I made about who was in what choir, who performed what solos or leads in the musical were always up for constant scrutiny. My worst critics? You guessed it. Parents. In fact, it was a handful of parents who got me fired at my last job after 46 years of teaching. But I digress.

It still numbs my mind that a parent would harbor such malicious thoughts and accuse me of malfeasance all due to a child not singing in the talent show, or in a certain choir, or being picked for a solo on a concert. Oh if they had just harbored the thoughts. But instead they put HRS into action: Hide behind their computer, Rant and hit Send.

In my last job, the administrator I reported to wanted me gone at any cost. So when these handful of emails per year popped up on her screen, she was all too excited to act. To this day, I HATE the word REFLECT. My admin’s favorite scolding technique always began with, “You need to reflect on your actions and how you could have better handled the situation.” Better handled what situation? Little “Cindy Sue” didn’t make it into the talent show because she wasn’t good enough. Her parents could not accept that so they literally spent the remainder of the school year trying to put pressure on the administration to fire me. Believe me, it didn’t take much pressure. Five months later I was forced out and “Cindy Sue” went on to have a great singing career at the school. But again, I digress.

Now fast forward. A few days ago I was asked to speak about my book at a local book signing. I stood at the door, welcoming people in, excited to finally be in person after almost two years of being shuttered from public speaking. As the participants entered the area, a few spoke to me by name. I would inquire how we met, with the conversations animated, some even with excitement. Then entered a lady with quite a frown on her face. She barely spoke to me. When I stated she looked familiar, the frown gritted that I was her daughter’s teacher several years before. In my stupor, I did not assess the potential of the situation to implode until the gloomy lady took her seat. And then it hit me like a wall of unwelcome emotions! This face of abject hostility was a “Cindy Sue” mother. Now I was met with this reality: my talking points dealt with the reasons teachers are leaving their jobs all across America. One of the main reasons? Parents inability to be thoughtful in their criticism and demeanor. Do I take out that subject completely? Can I give my rehearsed speech on the equity issues facing teachers and edit it on the spot? The reality answer rose swiftly and permeated my thought process: no, I cannot edit nor should I be expected to edit what I was about to address! So my speech began and to my surprise, was well received. I couldn’t even finish my thoughts before teachers in the audience wanted to share their nightmare stories of parental rants and threats. All the time, I suppressed giggles. Who knew this certain parent would make my life miserable years before and then end up in the audience? And the predominant comments? Many around her spoke of the inappropriate behavior manifested by such crazed parents. Karma, baby, it was karma! Did she establish eye contact with me at any time? No. I would like to think she sat chagrined, hoping for a fast exit. I did not see her afterwards so I’m guessing she was in no shape to lend any compliments to my presentation. But just for a moment, I celebrated a very small victory: a parent who maligned me all those years ago had to sit and listen to what it felt like to be a teacher under fire from a group of parents, who should know better.

I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child!,
TUNE IN SOON. Here’s a tease: It’s my Covid Anniversary!

PLEASE SHARE THIS LINK WITH ANY AND ALL . You can find the written word of today’s podcast at: rescuetheteacher.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. Hit that button now and have my thoughts sent to your email!