Choosing Our Words Carefully

No one likes it when their kids are hurting.  Subway Dude is currently sleeping on the couch.  He’s been there all day, suffering from a sore throat and a headache. This is not good timing for the Quaker Marching Band.  They have their final band competition on Sunday night.  QMB is currently in 2nd place in New York State.  We are anxiously awaiting to see if they will swoop in and snatch 1st place from Victor High School.  Go, Fighting Quakers.

At least with Subway Dude, a little TLC and some rest should take care of his problem.

The Fashionista, on the other hand, came home with a case of hurt feelings.  These were brought upon not by a classmate, but by a teacher at her school.

At Orchard Park Middle School, the students have Satellite classes that they attend for 10 weeks at a time.  TF began the year very excited about her first Satellite class.  She felt she was learning a lot about a subject that was interesting to her.  Furthermore, she frequently talked about the teacher.  He was personable and funny.

A few weeks ago, something changed.  She began to come home slightly disgruntled with the teacher.  She was still excited about the subject matter.  She was receiving good grades in the class.  The teacher seemed not to be as personable or as funny.

Tonight, at 7:30, TF came home from a cross-country meet in tears.  She has a project due tomorrow for this class.  She took the time today to show her teacher the Power Point she had created.  She asked for some feedback from him on her assignment.  His response, “This sucks.”

Okay, I teach elementary school.  I am extremely careful with my choice of words when I am dealing with my students.

His advice?  “Add more stuff to it.  If you can’t do that, chose another topic.”  TF had already put in at least four days of work on the project.  Chose another topic?  He approved the topic in the first place.  He never said anything like, “You might have trouble researching this topic.”

Not only did he said, “This sucks.” to my daughter, but he also showed it to the next class period.  He told them, “This is an example of a project that sucks.”

Perhaps a teacher could show a project from another year?  He could write one himself that is less than stellar.  Thankfully, her name was not on the project.  You know middle schoolers though.  Word gets around.  It got back to TF before the end of the day.

The Fashionista received some parental supervision this evening on her second draft.  She begged us not to contact her teacher at this point.  We have agreed.  We will be sending a strongly worded letter at the end of her 10-week marking period.

The Fashionista has learned a valuable lesson tonight.  Whatever career path she takes, you can be certain that she will never treat anyone with such disregard.  TF is a sensitive, caring and most of all, empathetic person.  Her work did not “suck”.  It needed a little refining.  Perhaps her teacher could take that lesson to heart as well.

The Fashionista & Running Girl

–Running Girl


13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Becky on October 27, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    This is appalling. No teacher should ever tell a student that her work “sucks”. I’m almost speechless at this stunning lack of teacherliness (can’t think of an appropriate real word).


  2. Posted by Alice on October 27, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    How awful. And cruel. Why do people become teachers when they don’t love kids? Maybe he’s young and making mistakes, but this is a deep one. Thank God TF has great parents.


  3. Posted by lisa on October 27, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Wow. I can NOT believe what the teacher did. His comment was horrible. & wrong. Call me silly but I always thought a teacher’s job was to help, encourage & motivate a student; not belittle a person. As for him using her work as a “not what to do”, I am speechless & we all know that’s one thing I am never am. {{{HUGS}}} to TF!


  4. Posted by Gail on October 27, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    I am appalled. That is NOT good teaching.


  5. Posted by Melania on October 28, 2010 at 12:45 am

    OOOO, stories like this bring out he Mama Bear in me…even for my friends’ children. Knowing what a lovely young lady she is, with wisdom beyond her years, TF will learn and grow in a healthy way because she has great parents to make her see that her ideas and creativity are valued in a way that this teacher is simply missing. Please let us know how TF does on this project! Sorry to hear she has learned such a difficult lesson. We can be assured though that the lesson has in hindsight been handled with grace… with the help of RG and TM of course. Perhaps, in ten weeks, you will share the strongly worded letter with us as a lesson for the newer parents!?


  6. Posted by Lisa N. on October 28, 2010 at 6:43 am

    I too am completely stunned. Ironic that TM was just discussing “bullying” by peers- who would ever think our kids would have to endure it from their teachers.
    I am appalled, and at a loss for words. (At least ones appropriate to put on your blog.)
    Give her a hug from all of us out here who think she is an amazing young lady.


  7. Posted by Deb O'Shea on October 28, 2010 at 10:00 am

    I would like to say that I can’t believe that a teacher would use that kind of language in (a) a school and (b) to a student no less. Unfortunately, I can believe it because somewhere along the line many persons have lost, or never had, the good sense as to know when and where something is simply not appropriate and, in this case, neither instructive or productive. I am glad you are not going to let this go unaddressed, and I agree with your timing. Sometimes adults provide teaching moments through the negative, i.e., not what to do.


  8. Posted by Lynne Levy on October 28, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Unprofessional and inhumane!! Both in one word. At minimum, the use of this sort of language in a class room (using one student’s work as a bad example in another class is also quite suspect) should be brought to the attention of the administration—at the end of the 10 weeks time. This sort of behavior is completely unacceptable in any sort of teacher at any level and even more appalling at the middle school level where egos and self esteem are so vulnerable. Imagine what your mom or dad would have thought of this!! and neither would ever have come close to such an action. I am shocked.


  9. Posted by MrsV on October 28, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    As a former junior high school teacher, I’m horrified. It’s people like this who give our profession a bad name. We should build up & encourage our students. Lord knows they get beat down enough without the teacher adding to it. Hopefully this teacher will see the error of his ways and will also be horrified that he hurt a student’s feelings.


  10. Fear not, friends. The teacher shall soon be taught a lesson.

    For, he shall receiveth the backside of the pimp-hand of God.

    And lo, there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    In his moment of desperation, he shall be heard to cry out: “This sucks!”

    — The Major


  11. Posted by Donna Walters on October 28, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    YUCK!!!!!! Sadly there are too many of those teachers out there! What a shame… Give the Fashionista a hug from The Walters Clan, we know how she feels…


  12. You can fix a flat tire, repair a broken vase, cure most ailments and even mend a broken heart, but there’s not much you can do about ingorance when it’s been inbred. This man should strongly consider a career change. I heard Waste Management is hiring.


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