Friday, January 28, 2011

Who's responsible for your happiness?

This isn't terribly pagan in nature, but since I feel most like-minded with you guys I'm going to throw this discussion out there and see what you think.

Short background: I come from a positive parenting background... the idea is not letting children run amok, but modeling respect, firmness, love, and acknowledgment of feelings. As I see it, I'm teaching them how to treat other people, and how they should expect to be treated. Enter... the first grade teacher.

My husband and I have been having discussions around home about who is responsible for our own happiness. My first grader has a teacher who uses reward/punishment (like paying kids for bringing in their homework, get marbles for good deeds... fill the jar and you get a popcorn party, etc.) to manage her classroom. It's become a problem, though, as the teacher gets frustrated and tends to punish the whole class... so if you're a "good kid"... why bother? A few people can ruin everything for you all. In fact, recently, the teacher got frustrated with a few kids who weren't paying attention, and dumped out the whole jar of marbles while apologizing to the "good kids". This indicates to me that she knew this wasn't a good punishment... that it wasn't the right thing to do in order to gain control of the disruptive children. (I really am getting to the happiness part... just hang with me a sec).

The latest story from the first grade classroom is that the teacher told a story. It's about each person having a bucket, and when people are nice to you it fills your bucket with happiness, and when people are mean, or DON'T FOLLOW DIRECTIONS they take away happiness from your bucket. She told the kids that her bucket is empty because they aren't behaving. Ahem... huh?

Who is responsible for keeping their buckets full? Are 27 six-year-olds responsible for a 50-something's happiness? If she's frustrated with her class, is it really the fault of the children? Or is it that her strategies for maintaining order don't work, and that she needs to choose another way?

I totally understand that when you run across a person, they can influence your mood in the moment... but is your day really up to them... or is it up to you?


  1. Unfortunately, too many teachers get into the profession for the wrong reasons (Union = tenur, Summer's off, blah blah blah). I believe teaching is a calling, not a choice.

    My son had a horrible 1st grade teacher. Then we moved and his new teacher was MUCH better. His teacher this year? I LOVE HER. I could tell from the moment I met her that she was born to do this.

    It's hard when you get a bad one, I hope things get better.

  2. Thadd's first grade teacher pulled the same kind of crap.

    In his school the punishment system is set around coloured "tickets" ranging from Green (good) to red (principal). Thadd knew that if he got his tickets pulled then there would be consquences at home.

    One day he came home nearly in tears saying that when he got into the classroom THAT MORNING he was at the red ticket! WTF?? His teacher wouldn't tell him why.

    I confronted her the next morning and she said "Oh, he knows why" and I said "No, he doesn't. You never told him." She then said "Oh, well, the class was unruly yesterday afternoon so I just started pulling random tickets from the kids." She wasn't paying attention to which kids were being "punished" or making sure that the tickets were pulled evenly..she just blindly did it.

    So my son, one of the kids that were "good" got the worst punishment and lost all his recess with no explaintion from the teacher.

    I told her that Thadd came home in tears because of this because he didn't understand the "why" and was worried he would be punished at home over this. The teacher looked shocked and said "oh, the other parents don't even care about the tickets so pulling them is no big deal."

    Explain how the hell that makes sense??

    I understand being in a room with little kids all day can give a person a headache, BUT, it's up to the teacher to make it a good day and not the kids' responsiblity.

    Nobody MAKES us happy...that's our job.

  3. it is a sad thing indeed... guess the teacher is not a very happy person or at least thinks that someone else is responsible for whether or not she is.... One of the best lessons I ever learned is that I am responsible for my own happiness. All her actions do is make the good kids mad at the bad kids and visa versa. talk about an encouragement for bullying...

    someone needs to talk to that teacher and attempt to make her see what she is feeding to the young minds in her class room... I think I would be a bit miffed myself...

  4. wow. She told that to kids??? Each person IS responsible for their own happiness. You can make the choice to be happy or not happy every morning and every second of the day. It's hard sometimes to keep making the choice to be happy, because if you're dealing with a person who brings your mood down, then it's hard to say "hey I want to be happy, so I'm going to be" it's very hard.. but that's the way it is. We are responsible for our own happiness. It's a choice.. a way of life... we can also choose to help other people be happy, but it's all a choice. This is something I think about a lot because it's so important... I mean.. in that situation with the teacher.. it definitely shows that she is just burnt out and needs maybe a day off to think about and restrategize for work... when you are so overwhelmed for so long and thinks aren't working it gets difficult... and a day off can help so much.. it just stinks that teachers don't always get that opportunity to take a day off to think and take some "me" time. Wow, well I hope what I said actually makes sense. :) What an interesting blog.. :)


  5. Let's hear a whoop! That's sounds like a fantastic idea and who knows how many people it'll benefit both directly and indirectly. Keep pushing forwards with it!

    In the mean time I hope you and your family start finding a path through the maze. I maintain that there's nothing that asks so much of you as raising a family. xx