A BIT OF A RANT
Myths about Independent School Teachers (from NAIS)
1 An enlightened teacher appreciates the nuances of each family's definition of political, religious, and spiritual correctness and monitors her every remark, facial expression, and hand gesture accordingly.
2 An effective teacher knows how to stop second-grade boys from making smutty jokes and fourth-grade girls from gossiping and excluding other girls from their birthday parties.
3 A sensitive teacher never allows any child to feel humiliated for being in the slow math group; in fact, she adroitly organizes reality so that no child ever even suspects that he's in the slow math group.
4 A compassionate teacher understands that busy, pressured children are entitled to everyday small kindnesses in the form of messengered lunches, faxed homework, and parental edits of writing assignments.
5 A hard-working teacher appreciates that part of the benefits of paying tuition is her telephone availability to parents 24/7.
6 A psychologically attuned teacher, through his sensitive ministrations, can maintain every child's ability to concentrate, participate in class, and socialize with friends despite a natural disaster, divorce, or death in the child's family.
7 A protective teacher makes sure that no student ever feels cold, wet, bored, hungry, or left out for more than 15 or 20 seconds.
8 A skillful teacher understands that every independent-school student, if only taught properly, has the potential to excel in all areas.
9 A fair-minded teacher understands that in today's world a grade of B+ means that a student is doing poorly and needs a new teaching strategy, a tutor, or both.
10 A cutting-edge teacher keeps up with the latest research on brain and cognitive development and can tailor these findings to the specific learning needs of each child.
11 Ditto for learning styles, learning differences, and ADHD classroom management strategies.
12 A sympathetic teacher accepts today's families' busy schedules and doesn't really mind if homework isn't turned in on time…or at all.
13 A mature teacher knows that faculty cliques and tensions don't affect students as long as there is a show of politeness and collegiality.
14 A sensible teacher realizes that parents with graduate degrees in anything know as much about elementary education, curriculum, and child development as do teachers and school administrators.
15 An inspired classroom teacher creates an environment so welcoming and magical that every child loves to come to school every day.
16 The up-to-date classroom teacher knows how important it is to develop an integrated curriculum. She seamlessly incorporates art, music, laboratory science, and creative dramatics into every and all academic subjects.
17 A reasonable teacher understands that when parents pay many, many thousands of dollars in tuition, their child's school experience should resemble travel on a cruise ship and that administrators and faculty are responsible for meeting all the child's needs and getting her to her destination — education and graduation — with no waves.
Wendy Mogel is a clinical psychologist based in Los Angeles and author of the best-selling parenting book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee. She lectures nationally about managing parents' expectations of independent schools.