The most highly decorated and dedicated teacher in America has been sitting in his lounge room for the past 2 months. He has been stripped of his right to do what he does best, because a colleague dobbed him in to the authorities for a politically incorrect joke.
Since hearing of his suspension I have been in a state of shock. Who would want to take the best teacher out of the classroom? Shouldn’t they be working on getting more Rafe’s instead of finding absurd ways of removing them from classrooms?
After days of soul searching I have come up with some lessons I have learned from this saga:
1. It Could be You – If Rafe can be barred from the classroom, anyone can. Next it could be you.
2. Leave Your Sense of Humour at the Door – Don’t even think of cracking a joke. It could cost you your job. The classroom is not a place for humour. It should be a joyless, lifeless, cold and bitter place. If you want to see kids laugh, become a party clown!
3. A Good Record Counts for Nothing – Teacher of the Year! Who cares? When a jealous co-worker dobs you in to the authorities, a lifelong reputation of excellence and integrity counts for nothing. Leave your references at the door. Educational bureaucrats with an ego the size of Greece’s debt aren’t in the mood to excuse a trivial comment, even if your name is Mother Theresa.
4. Teaching is a Dog Eat Dog Profession – Yes, I am generalizing, but don’t tell me you’ve never experienced it. Why do teachers feel the need to compete with one another? Aren’t the children supposed to be the emphasis. That teacher who snitched on Rafe has a lot of explaining to do. If as I presume, he/she did it out of jealousy, it is yet another example of teachers hurting their own. Our job is difficult enough as it is, why do we need to constantly compete against and judge one another? We should be supporting, not reporting each other!
5. Who wants to be a Male Primary Teacher? – C’mon, you know I’m right. It’s the elephant in the room. Had a female teacher made the same joke as Rafe did (a joke I don’t endorse), would she have been suspended? Absolutely not. You want more male teachers in the younger years? Start by treating us equally.
6. It’s not Just about Rafe’s Reputation, It’s a Reflection on Our Profession – Here was a teacher that absolutely adores what he does. He is a true inspiration. And what do the authorities do to acknowledge his outstanding work? Ban him from the classroom. What message does this send to perspective teachers. Perhaps it’s easier working at Walmart. I’m sure the pay isn’t all that different.
7. Teach at a Private School if You Can – By working at a public school, Rafe’s reputation was greatly enhanced. He was seen as a champion for the downtrodden, the under privileged. But the problem with public schools is that they are often run in a chaotic and cold-hearted fashion. Private schools personally select and invest in you. They choose you because they believe in you, and unless there is ample proof that they were completely wrong about you, they will give you the benefit of every doubt. Public schools on the other hand treat you like a number. Had Rafe made that comment in a private school, his Principal would have backed him all the way. Perhaps, at worst, he would have had to issue an apology, but nothing more than that. It’s great to teach those who need you the most, but not at the expense of your reputation.
Click on the link to read #StandByRafe
Click on the link to read The Teacher I Most Look Up To, Removed from the Classroom
Click on the link to read Teachers Don’t Get Any Better Than This!