Tescher Problems indeed

I’m not going to link it, but if you go on twitter and look up #tescherproblems, you should find what I’m talking about. Yes, that spelling is intentional, because the tweet includes a typo.

There’s this account, ostensibly a humorous one, that talks about Teacher Problems. Monday, it asked its many followers for things students say that are annoying, using “I ain’t trippin'” as an example. Plenty of people (including me) pointed out that this was a common phrase in AAVE (African-American Vernacular English), though some would contend that the name AAVE is discriminatory. Point being, though, that there is nothing wrong with it.

The account would probably claim it’s just a joke. To me, the real problem is that so many (white) teachers agreed with it and added other things that seem to genuinely annoy them, such as “bruh,” and “you’re doing too much,” all examples of common AAVE phrases.

I can bet you that the teachers that did this don’t think they’re racist. In fact, they probably think that, by virtue of teaching kids of color, they’re immune from racism. Indeed, this is an example of how the altruistic shield works, because it protects them from any self-reflection and criticism that might force them to evolve.

I see this a lot though, not just on twitter. I have had friends who were public school teachers who made jokes about their students’ names. Colleagues who joked about the choices clients made. And I can bet you if I point out that these comments are demeaning and perpetuate oppression, they’d just tell me I had no sense of humor and freeze me out.

We’re all educators. We need to love our students. I’m not immune to finding this stuff funny, I surely did ten years ago, but not anymore. I think the first rule of education is to love your students, and it’s a shame that so few of us seem to show love and respect to everyone we teach.