It’s not about the teachers

“It happened to them, not to you,” said the social studies teacher when colleagues were topping each others’ classroom horror stories.  ” You tell the stories like it’s some kind of entertainment, but it happened to them — the kids. They are the ones who 30 years from now will remember these stories with tears in their eyes.”

In her first post on Ed Week‘s new Charting My Own Course, Marilyn Rhames, a reporter turned science teacher, recalls the words that have haunted her for eight years.

I am only glad that I got set straight early in my teaching career. Some teachers never seem to get it. You know this when their debates about education reform are centered around teacher rights, and not student rights. Teachers’ needs are important — I have a mortgage; I have a family; I would like to retire one day — but they are not the core issue. The mission is bigger than us. Educators and policymakers must boil the chatter down to two essential questions: To what degree will this policy enhance student learning and how will we know?

Her own children attend the charter school where she teaches, so that keeps her aware that “it” — good or bad — is happening to them.

About Joanne


  1. “Her own children attend the charter school where she teaches, so that keeps her aware that “it” — good or bad — is happening to them.”

    I am always amazed at the number of teachers who send their kids to private schools.

  2. Michael E. Lopez says:

    What a bunch of self-righteous hogwash.

    “It” — whatever “it” is — happens to everyone it happens to. Teachers are in the school, in the classroom, too.

  3. Thanks for the link Joanne. I can see Michael’s point, but I think what the Social Studies teacher meant, at least to me, was that while these are funny stories to the teachers’ these are painful memories for the children and to laugh at them is wrong. I tend to agree.

  4. I see kids causing psychological trauma to teachers; I rarely see the reverse. Teachers’ venting in the staff room is usually about their impotence in the face of uncivil, even sadistic, student behavior. I suspect that Rhames is one of those moral posers who falsely maintain that adults’ callousness causes many of the ills that face our schools. What I see are caring adults who get steamrolled, and then put on their guard.

  5. I’m on the self righteous hogwash side of it. Get over yourself.

  6. We tell stories about the kids b/c it makes work interesting.

  7. All people who work together tell stories about their work. Extreme stories that highlight and then relieve tension are a big part of the mix. My parents served under fire in WWII in field hospitals; they both said that MASH’s graveyard humor was entirely realistic.