OPINION: Sometimes You Have to Clap Back

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The following was written and submitted by Amanda Margrave.

 

When you read something that you are not quite sure about, it leaves one to ask: Should I clap back?

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An example is when you read something on the Sweetwater County Feedback Facebook page that mischaracterizes, or spreads outright falsehoods and rumors, you might take it upon yourself to politely comment the truth to dispel rumors.

When rumors circulated on this site about the high school mock reunification drill (I say mock because it wasn’t a true re-unification) it was important to dispel the rumors that students spread through Snapchat and eventually reached parents. (This rumor was that students we asked to leave their backpacks at the school so drug dogs could search the bags).

Since I applaud parents for believing what their kids say, I don’t mind dispelling rumor. Parents should trust their kids. Kids get sucked into rumors, it’s part of being a teenager.

Other things require a different approach.

I recently read a commentary article published in the Rocket Miner by Ann Jantz. Ms. Jantz had a few specific criticisms about Rock Springs High School. I wanted to take this chance to clap back:

To quote Ms. Jantz: ”the chaos in his LA class. ‘I just keep my head down and try and do my work. Sometimes it’s hard to do’ he told me”.

To which I wonder; have you personally had a conversation with his teacher? Is this person a new or veteran teacher? If this issue is recurring have you volunteered to help, such as be an extra adult in a room that sorely needs it? Or is this a one day occurrence in which your son came home and talked about his crazy day in LA class? The quote characterizes it as a recurring event. See challenge below.

To quote Ms. Jantz “A fight began… with students yelling at each other in the hallway… teachers eventually intervened to break it up but not before the yelling escalated and punches were exchanged.

*Sigh* I remember when I was in high school and full of raging hormones. I remember when high school kids would get involved in drama and rumor, and they would fight sometimes.

EVERY HIGH SCHOOL EVER has fights. It happens. Teachers intervened and stopped the fight. Even from the quote it sounds to me like what happened was what one would expect to happen.

Ms. Jantz characterizes this event as something that happens with regularity, and the teachers that eventually intervened as jaded to the constant fights. 1. Fighting and suspension for fights at RSHS is relatively rare. 2. Teachers are asked to verbally intervene before physically intervening. 3. If teachers were to physically intervene someone could be hurt.

To quote Ms. Jantz: “the number of students that seem to wander in the hallways, even when classes are in session”.

RSHS has a hall restriction list that these students are obviously working very hard to get added to. As for many other kids; this isn’t a prison, kids can go to the bathroom and get a drink if they need to. We are working to create adults. Adults are allowed to go to the bathroom when they need to.

When I think of my workplace, “chaos” is not a word for how I would characterize it. Ms. Jantz and other people she talk to seem to feel differently. The vast majority of students and teachers work very hard and the vast majority of days are extremely uneventful.

Ms. Jantz goes on to say that all those in education have her respect. But “it is not her job to solve the school’s problems and she has no answers for the situation”. Here are a few answers:

Maybe instead of lying about having respect for those in education, just be real: you don’t. Your article in which you criticize the students, the teachers and the administration, say you have no answers and will not help because it’s not your job, but then say you respect the people that work with your kids.

Sorry, you can’t have it both ways. If you’re going to criticize, a respectful person would come to the table with solutions, or at the very least a willingness to help. Your ‘not my job’ attitude is pure lack of respect, plain and simple.

You say you understand the trials and tribulations of educators. Do you? Have you ever had a class of 27, 14 and 15-year-olds that you need to teach Romeo and Juliet to? Okay, now imagine that two of those kids don’t speak English, and 10 have learning disabilities and they need different types of instruction – not one like the other. Then imagine that two kids are chronically absent for reasons unknown and five in your class do not read at grade level – not because of a disability, they just struggle with reading.

Did I mention that there are probably two students in that class that are actually interested in Romeo and Juliet? Oh, and they all have smartphones and social media is WAY more interesting to a 14-year-old than Shakespeare. You tell them to put their phones away but “my mom is texting me!!!” And yeah, she really is.

It sounds pretty hard right? And yet we teachers do this Every. Damn. Day. Ms. Jantz, you’re quick to criticize but you’re sure not very quick to get in here and volunteer your time to help out.

To quote Ms. Jantz: “…the last time I said something she got her back up, so I expect this will really send her over the edge. …I hope she has the same concerns as I do and will try to address those concerns.”

Well, the numbers I gave in the last paragraph, just inflate those so that they are equal parts of 1,400. This is Mrs. Fletcher’s classroom.

The kids that don’t speak English, the kids with disabilities, the kids that struggle with academic content in some way, the kids that don’t come to school, the kids that have experience things that I pray you and I will never have to experience, and the kids that are extremely gifted. She has them all. She loves them all.

As someone who has worked alongside Mrs. Fletcher for the last 8 years, believe me, her concerns could fill a warehouse. She leads with respect for all she cares for all. There is no exception to this.

RSHS is not perfect. Faculty and staff members are human. Kids are human. We all screw up. But I can tell you that the teachers, administration, and staff at RSHS lose sleep at night thinking about your kid, and the other 1400 kids.

We sacrifice our time with our families to help serve yours (I stole this line from my colleagues). I challenge you and anyone else who shares your view to walk with us.

Ms. Jantz, you say, “I hope it makes some people sit up, take notice and consider adding your voice to the discussion.” It may seem harsh, but I don’t want your voice. I want your actions. I want don’t want you to embrace the drama, rumor and criticism and then make excuses as to why you can’t or don’t.

I challenge you and anyone else: come with solutions, come with new ideas, volunteer your time! Don’t just add to the drama with your criticism that helps nothing.