In looking through my blog post drafts, I found one that I missed. In November of 2014, a woman told me “You are the reason I no longer teach.” Do you know why?
Because my kid has food intolerances (that affect his behavior within minutes) and very severe blood dysregulation. Which she believed was absolute nonsense. Let me tell you what else I heard from her…
This woman was truly horrified over the idea that students “couldn’t even have ice cream in class”. Ummm… I went to public school in the late 1970s through the late 1980s and I don’t think I EVER had ice cream in class. I went to 9 different schools in 5 different towns across what was, back then, effectively 3 districts in one of those towns (as they were not sychronized in policy nor standardized on learning objectives across the three elementary schools) and still–no ice cream and I don’t actually even remember candy.
This woman went so far as to SNEAK cupcakes into a class where the school policy was “no outside food”–because the trauma of not having these things was too much for her soul to bear. It didn’t matter that the kids might have had cupcakes at home that worked around their individual challenges. They HAD to have cupcakes IN SCHOOL.
You know what WASN’T too much for her soul to bear? Isolating the kid whose class can’t have these (overwhelmingly evidence-based proven addictive and unhealthy on EVERY level even “just a little bit”) snacks because that kid has medical problems that a teacher simply DOESN’T AGREE WITH. It wasn’t too much for her soul to bear that she made sure the class knew that this child is/these children are the reason they don’t have treats (which this woman did) so that she could shift the disappointment from her adult shoulders to her student’s shoulders. From the adult that had alternatives to creating fun experiences that didn’t include food to the child that had NO ability to create fun experiences for that classroom.
That is bullying, folks. And for some kids, it’s a downright danger to their life. It’s not a danger to my kid’s life but it is absolutely a danger to many kids lives these days.
That is putting your need to be a superstar to a group of kids in front of the needs of one (or four) student(s) and being completely incapable of showing them you’re a rockstar without involving addictive and unhealthy treats and putting yourself, your feelings and your needs to stroke your ego above those of the kids in your classroom.
This is not just a “cultural shift to be more healthy”. These are kids with PROBLEMS. Yes–these are “new-fangled” problems. Our bodies are evolving and changing. Research is showing us how and why this is happening. Clearly, Former Classroom Teacher, you are not engaged with emerging research. Reactions to dyes (which, btw, are outlawed in countries with socialized healthcare because the backlash would bankrupt them with the related medical bills), blood sugar dysregulation (anyone notice that we no longer call it “late-onset diabetes” anymore? Because now we see it in FOUR YEAR OLDS), gluten intolerance, dairy and soy intolerance… these are just a few.
What I hear you saying is “I have no other way to make these kids happy and/or make them adore me than to bribe them with sugar–even if it is at the expense of a few.”
What I hear you saying is “I do not cultivate a classroom of inclusion where students with various challenges are not just tolerated and accommodated, but integrated, accepted and loved.”
What I hear you saying is “I don’t need to consider the concerns of parents because they are dumb and I am smart despite the fact that I have not even investigated these issues.”
What I hear you saying is “I cannot build relationships with my students that encourage and motivate them to work with me in the classroom and have to resort to bribing them with contraband instead of other things that are not as quick and easy to find and loved by all.”
What I hear you saying is “My ideas of what children should or shouldn’t experience as a teacher in terms of rites of passage are unaltered by the needs of the students and they should experience those things even to their detriment because these experiences are too critical to miss in life.” (suddenly I am imagining other things that might fall into this category–most notably the traumatized Santa Claus photo-taking sessions)
What I hear you saying is “I don’t have or respect boundaries.”
But what I REALLY hear you saying is “I shouldn’t be in a classroom.”
Which you say you no longer are. And all is right with the world.