Friday, April 17, 2009

Students We Love (and the Teachers Who Hate Them)

"How did make it through the year with _________?" is not an usual question to be asked by a teacher. What happens when the student identified happens to be a personal favorite? How does a student that is funny, charming, intelligent, honest, and caring become public school enemy number 1?

There are teachers, we all know some, that do not like children. Instead of treating them with respect and love, they treat them with contempt and disdain. When they aren't barking at the students about some perceived mistake or infraction, they are complaining to others about how bad their students are.

I have observed students being berated and belittled over little things by teachers who then complain about the lack of respect the students show them. How dare they backtalk or glare at them! Who do they think they are! Never mind the simple fact that the same teachers would blow their stack if another adult treated them the same way they are treating the students.

I am not writing about students that have behavior changes due to family problems, drugs, or other outside motivations. I know these students haven't changed that much because they still treat me and other teachers they had in the past with respect.

What should we do when we know teachers that take our former wonderful students and turn them into something much less? What is our responsibility to the students? What is our responsibility to those teachers?

This post, slightly modified was originally posted on Reflections on Teaching in 2.0 Although I posted this last September, the questions are as relevant today.


teachernz said...

I had an experience a few years ago when I was still a bit "wet behind the ears". An ex-student of mine was involved in an incident in which a student in my class was hurt. Rather than get to the bottom of it all myself I decided to visit the ex-student's current teacher, thinking they would be able to deal with the matter more effectively. What followed next changed the way I dealt with these "situations".

I stood by and watched the student berated, embarrassed, intimidated and bullied into compliance by his current teacher.

As tears rolled down the student's cheeks they were also welling in my eyes and I felt ashamed to be a colleague of the teacher.

What did I do afterwards? To my shame, nothing, but it changed the way I managed future incidents. I vowed that I would deal with any similar problems myself whenever possible.

Like you say in your post, there are some teachers who just don't like children. Why are they teachers? What can we do to reduce or eliminate the negative affect they have on some students?

jkmcclung said...

Dead on, our responsibility to the students is to rehearse not scold their inappropriate behavior....if we scold the problem just becomes compounded.

luvnteachin said...

As the German polymathic Goethe says "Treat a man as he is, he will remain so. Treat a man the way he can be and ought to be, and he will become as he can be and should be."

I am a firm believer that they will live up to how we treat them. If we treat them like punks then they will continue to act like punks. As you say treat them with respect and appropriate trust and 9 times out of 10, I have to believe, those "trouble kids" will not disappoint.

Jarrod Lamshed said...

A lot of schools (although not enough) in Australia have introduced 'restorative justice' as the preferred option for behaviour management. Unfortunately, a fair bit or berating still happens from teachers which does nothing to fix problems long term. Restorative Justice works for most situations. It can be used in small groups, between individuals or with a whole class group. It is really effective and is based on treating everyone involved with respect. Everyone gets to have their say, and I can see it having brilliant results in the classroom. It is really important that we remember that respect is a two way thing... do unto others.

I talked about relationships in my last post. These effective and REAL relationships cannot happen with these 'old fashioned' attitudes toward teaching.

NZWaikato said...

That's partly the magic of teaching. I feel that I know @jarrod @ wmchamberlain @jmmcclung and all of those have an 'x' factor that draws you into their classes, there online work etc. I have never met any of you but would walk into your classrooms at some point if I could. I'm sure that I'd feel completely comfortable with that and I think that something that someone has or doesn't. I have taught at some really inner city type schools and despaired at the quality of the teaching and the interaction with students but it depends so much on the individual and I don't believe its something that you can teach.

Jarrod Lamshed said...

This is a bit of a sore point for me today! I saw this in action and stepped in. It's very frustrating.