Friday, June 3, 2016

Teacher Pleasers and Not Teacher Pleasers

I started this post a few months ago, and didn't have the heart to post it then. But I think it makes an important reflection on Connor's and Helen's elementary school days, so I'm pulling it off the "draft" board - and posting it now.

As long as students and teachers have existed, there have probably been students who want to please their teacher, and students who do not care. I have one of each in my home. One of those children is particularly easy when it comes to schooling. She's happy to do the work (even if it gets mundane) and she really wants to make her teacher proud. The other one doesn't really care if his teacher is happy with him or not, and I think he would go so far as to say "if I'm not happy, no reason for you to be happy". Shared misery, baby.

My non-teacher pleaser is not alone in being bored at school. In class, I'm confident in saying his class is pretty packed with kids who are likely bored. But half of them are fine with this boredom - they are teacher pleasers. They sit and listen. A few are willing to daydream, sketch, or do something under the radar. And then there's one, maybe two, who have decided that outright defiance is the answer, so they read. Guess who the teacher does not like?

Although I frustrated my elementary teachers, I was definitely more aligned with the teacher pleaser, at least through grade 4. (Grades 5 and 6 were taught by the same person - and I think we both walked away worse for those two years.) In 7th and 8th grade, I was an obnoxious twit in enough classes that I think I can safely say I had crossed the line into not being a teacher pleaser, and high school was a mixed bag.

Often, I look at my non-teacher pleasing kid and think "just do the effing work with a smile and be done with it". But just so my non-teacher pleasing kid knows it some day, I'm also pretty impressed that you can look at the big picture, identify something as too trivial to care about it, and let it go.


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