Saturday, January 16, 2010

We've All Been There

Today, for some reason, I was watching videos on YouTube of teachers yelling at their classes. Now, I've been retired for a couple of years, but I could feel my blood pressure rising, just as it used to when I was teaching. However, I was not angry with the teachers. I was angry with the students.

Students can be rude and inattentive. In many cases they set up their teachers so they can watch their them lose their tempers. And now, they're filming it. I'm guessing a lot of those teachers don't even know they're on YouTube.

I was going to post one of the videos here, but decided that the videos don't tell the whole story. Yes, teachers are screaming. No, they shouldn't do that. But I'm guessing almost every teacher I know has been in a similar situation. I have been in this situation.

Every once in a while, you get one of those classes. In 32 years of teaching, I probably had one of those classes maybe 5 or 6 times. No matter what you do, they don't listen. They don't care. You could walk into class in a clown suit and they wouldn't notice. They continue their conversations and when you ask them to quiet down and listen, they act as if you've interrupted them. They'll continue to talk, they get up and walk around the room, they do whatever they feel like doing.

Unfortunately, there are always four or five students in the class who really do want to learn.

So what do you do? You can't send 20 students to the office or to the hall. And yet you need to teach. Detention is an option, but usually these are the students who don't come in for detention. You can call their parents, but that usually doesn't change the student's behavior. I found that calling parents only gives you documentation that you tried that strategy.

As it turns out, there really is very little you can do. And that's when the teacher reaches the end of his or her rope. Sometimes yelling happens. Unfortunately, teachers are human and when pushed to the limit, they do sometimes lose their tempers.

So what's a teacher to do? There are programs that can help. One that comes to mind is "Teaching With Love and Logic" by Jim Fay and Foster W. Cline, MD. There are others as well.

The only problem is that teachers need to learn the strategies before they enter the lion's den. Once the students take control of the classroom, it's very difficult to get it back.

My suggestion to teachers is to learn effective discipline methods before you ever enter a classroom. If you didn't learn them in college, take courses during the summer.

My suggestion to parents is to teach your children that they are in school to get an education. Make sure they understand how important an education is to their futures. They are not there to goad their teachers.

My suggestion to students is to remember that you are in school to learn and to learn to think, and that's really the only reason you're there. You can't do that when you're not paying attention.

1 comment:

  1. Your blog reveals a major concern. If you, as an extremely experienced teacher have suffered from this level of disruption in the classroom, how do new teachers cope? This situation not only interrupts the schooling of the better students but is a huge drain on teaching resources, many of whom then abandon teaching as a profession.