Teaching is Customer Service

"May I help you?"
 "Yes, you may. Thank you for asking."
Sound like a scene from a movie or college class on customer service?
Maybe. Or this could be a teacher approaching a parent on parent's night asking if they can help.  You see customer service and teaching go hand in hand.  We are expected to deliver excellent customer service to our parents, our students, and our community. But, more importantly, we WANT to provide good customer service. We don't go into this profession with the hopes that we will mess up a kid's life, infuriate parents, and be a blight on our school. We want to be shining examples of professionalism that model to our students and their parents the way professionals should act.

So what goes wrong?  For one thing, we're human. We take on too much or we are expected to do too much. I had a friend tell me once that I was one tough cookie. Yeah, until the cookie crumbled. We all have our breaking point. We all need to give ourselves a little slack. We can't function at the top of the game every day.  Not humanly possible.

What else could go wrong? Well, we work with the public. That just about says it all. Anytime you work with people you can't predict every outcome or scenario. Meaning: You can't please every one ALL the time. There will be some colleagues that like to find fault, some administrators that think it is their sworn duty to make teachers' lives miserable, and there will be years that you have a perfect child in your classroom. Little Miss (or Mr.) Perfect has parents that enable her, entitle her, and ignore her faults. Your faults on the other hand are all too obvious. I actually had a parent tell me once that all of his children were so high on the genius scale that even his child in my middle school classroom was smarter than me or anyone else at our school including our principal. This happened to be an administrator in another building (thank heavens not in my building!). My principal, being the awesome guy that he was, told me that he would handle this parent for the rest of the year. He was familiar with this parent's antics and attitude and didn't think I should be subjected to it. I owed him Big Time for that one!

But, all jokes and excuses put aside, teaching is customer service. We need to try to answer questions and find answers and return calls within a reasonable amount of time. We need to do our best, acting with courtesy and kindness.  We also need to teach our students to do the same. Customer service is sadly lacking in our society today, but we can make a difference in our own little world and hopefully.... our kids will continue to model our behavior long after they have moved on.


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