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Apparently, I'm not bringing out the best in people...

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Apparently, I'm not bringing out the best in people...


Usually, I have a great rapport with my students. Recently though, there's either something in the water, or a lot of bad stuff went down over Spring Break, but two days in a row, I have been called horrible names by students, prompting their suspension.

MONDAY: Last period of the day. Some students are more talkative than normal, but it is the first day back, so I don't think much of it. Another student we'll call Jimmy sits two rows behind everyone else.

As we go over the assignment I had given, I ask Jimmy if he has the answer to a problem. "Yeah," he replies. "Okay, you're up, tell me how I solve for x," I say.

He stares at me. Usually when a student doesn't want to give an answer, he'll say "I don't know" or tell me specifically that he doesn't want to answer. More often than not, I'll let them off the hook and come back to them when I know they can answer a question...I'm all for letting people look smart in front of their peers, not stupid. This student, however, just remains completely silent.

I wait for him to say something, anything. After about fifteen seconds, I say "Ooookay, I'll let you off the hook this time, but could you move up a couple rows to join the rest of the class? You're kinda all out an island over there."

He looks over his shoulder. "I'm not in the last row." (My class policy is that the back row always remain open because I never have enough students to need the back row, and there's no reason to use it.)

"My instruction was to move forward," I say calmly. "Please do so."

"I'm not fucking moving forward, you FUCKING BITCH!"

I'm dumbfounded. "Okay. You can go to the office."

"Yeah, you're talking big now, aren't you?" he replies. I have no idea what he's talking about.

He gathers his stuff, and as he walks out of the room, he proceeds to kick the living hell out of my garbage can before exiting. Let's just say it will never be quite round again.



I have a student...let's call him Timmy. Timmy does not have the ability to tell when playtime starts and work time begins. He will call me "dork" as if that were completely appropriate to say to a teacher. Lots of these students have two relationships: their friends and their enemies. They do not know how to handle teachers, who are not supposed to exist in either category.

At the beginning of class I explain "Okay, I asked people to finish *at least* to problem 6 by today. I want everyone to finish all twelve problems today. If you did not finish the first, please finish those first and move on to the rest."

I walk around the room, checking people's progress and helping them with their questions. About five minutes go by and I see Timmy has not done a single problem. "Where's your assignment?" I ask.

"You said that if we didn't the first six yesterday, then we do those and then we move on to the rest. I did finish the first six."


"So I don't have to do the rest."

Now realize this student is by FAR not my lowest student...when he applies himself, he's one of the brighter. He knows exactly what I meant, but if a student thinks he's going to win a battle of logic with me, he's obviously deluded.

"Look," I say. "I'm not going to play games with you today. You know what I meant."

"Hey I'm just doing what you said."

"Don't interrupt me. You do this every day, and I'm not going to play games. You can either take the paper out and work on it, or you can go to the office."

"Don't yell at me." (I was being stern, but I wasn't yelling).

Another few minutes go by as I make another trip round the classroom helping people. I reach Timmy again. "Okay. You haven't done a problem yet."

"I don't have a pencil."

"I said I was done playing games. You could easily have asked me for a pencil 10 minutes ago. Please go to the office."

He gets up. "Prick!" he says. The other students laugh nervously. "What? He knows he's a prick." He looks at me again. "And you can suck my DICK, motherfucker!"


The funny thing about these incidents is that when a student just loses his cool like this, even my worst students have my back. Here are some comments I heard from other students.

"Hey, Mr. H, just so you know, you're not a prick."

"Why do you work here? If it were me, I'd be throwing calculators at kids all day."

"You know, I think he just wanted to get suspended. You were just in his line of fire. You shouldn't take it personally."

To which I replied with a smile: "If I took every bad thing a student did in my class personally, I'd never get out of bed!"

Moral of the story: The bad apples make some workdays hard, but the good ones make it all worth it.

Thanks for the language warning. I closed my eyes so I wouldn't see the bad words. I don't know how you do it. Kudos for keeping your cool!
Leslie   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I think you did a great job of standing your ground. We need more teachers who won't put up with that kind of crap. My daughter has two teachers who allow these kind of jerks to control the atmosphere in their classrooms. It makes everyone suffer. Teaching is an under appreciated job, but I want to say thank you for your service as a teacher!!
Good News   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
OMG, Scott, this was my life for years and years. Exactly this. How very well I can sympathize/empathize with you. The bad kids are pretty bad and can easily ruin a good day very quickly, but the good kids make your heart sing. How I loved them. God bless you for being able to do this next-to-impossible job!!!
!   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Geez, what is home life like when this kind of behavior is exhibited at school?

Teachers are my heroes!
pegi   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Pegi, you wouldn't believe what their home life is like.
!   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
So very sad. Wish we could all give them the love they deserve at an early age on...
pegi   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Yeah some tough love.... a good butt whoopin! :o)
Good News   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I would have taken a ruler and smacked their knuckles a few times. The names will stop. I guarantee it.
RickMonday   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Scott, I think they believed you when you said you didn't want to teach anymore and plan to go make crosswords puzzles. ;)

Seriously, I couldn't do what you do. I admire ALL teachers but the really good ones like you and Nancy and Steve and Sarah S... you deserve the respect you should get and more! Good for you not taking that and expecting more and demanding respect or "out of here".
LGrant   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
These are the stories I hear from Mrs. Shoo on a daily basis. They make my work stories sound lame very quick.

@RickMonday unfortunately in this day in age, that's when the kid in the next row breaks out the cell phone records a video and hits send to the parent on the school board.

Scott keep up the good work!
shoo   Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I know.

But corporal punishment is what is needed.
RickMonday   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Totally agree RickMonday but in the end it is good parenting that keeps kids in line.
shoo   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Every school year I tell the teachers that if my children are misbehaving ALL they have to do is tell them that they are going to all ME! lol It works like a charm everytime. : )
runt   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
When a student gets verbally abusive like that it is very hard not to take it personally and hard not to respond to their comments!! You did very well to control the situation and not worsen it! Something else (other than you or the assignment) had initialized the student's poor attitude and behavior. You just happen to be the one there when it all came to a head.
What I always shook my head at when situations like this happened was when the parents were brought to school and confronted with what actually happened and what the student said - they almost always still defended their "little darlings" and felt the situation was the teacher's fault. It was easy to see why the kid was the way he/she was!!
stheinz   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Hence we know where the problems lie, Steve. Good parenting makes better kids. My parents taught us to respect people in authority. I would never have considered doing what those kids did. And if I did...perish the thought! Even if these kids did blow from other things causing it--it doesn't excuse the behavior and the parents should make that clear--not condone it and let their kids see that.
LGrant   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Scott, congratulations on your new job as a puzzle king. LOL I think teaching teens is one of the scariest jobs I can think of. I did bring my kids up the way my Dad brought us up=get in trouble in school and you are in t wice as much trouble at home. I admire you for the admirable way you handled this situation.
dannie   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
All I know is that there is a lesson on logic in their future, especially the fact that if Statement X is true ("If you didn't finish the first six, then get caught up and finish the rest") doesn't mean that its inverse is true ("If you finished the first six, then don't finish the rest").

He seriously didn't know who he was dealing with if he thought that line of reasoning was going to flummox me.
Scott   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Maybe it works at home. You did say he isn't that dumb when he applies himself.
LGrant   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Re: 7,8,11, 14, etc. -- when I said I wish we could give them the love they deserve, I mean from early on - they wouldn't need the butt whoopin' or the corporal punishment. Real love (which, yes, includes discipline) and respect nip this kind of behavior in the bud.

These stories really make me want to box some ears, and it's the ears of the &^%@&^$#@&^% parents!
pegi   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Oh Pegi,,,

Did you say "Box some ears'?.......that brings back some good memories.
RickMonday   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Sounds like you're good dealing with students. Reading this has cemented in my mind that I really don't want to teach despite my wife telling me that I'd be good at it.
LimeyGeorge   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Well all I know is, I went to university for four years to earn a teaching degree and after student teaching, I'd rather not use it. No patience for THAT! I'm with GoodNews & RickMonday that at this point in their lives, they need a good "butt whooping." And I know this is sad to say, but their distracting outbursts are very similar to what occurs in many of our schools here in B-N on a daily basis...it's so bad that I don't want Galvin or Gwendolyn attending public school!
Angi   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
LimeyGeorge...realize that I teach at a school DESIGNED for the kids I describe above. These aren't your average students. These are troubled kids.
Scott   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Those of you who blamed the parents hit the nail on the head. And Pegi also said the most important word - R-E-S-P-E-C-T. It's up to the parents to teach the kids respect - respect for themselves, respect for the parents, respect for other authoritarian figures, respect for their peers, etc. Poverty is a huge problem but it doesn't necessarily define success. Parents however poor can raise successful children. It all begins at home and it begins at a very early age and parents must be good role models and also give their children love and security which includes discipline. If a parent doesn't think school is important, if he doesn't think being on time is important, if he doesn't enjoy learning, if he doesn't show up for work half the time, guess what attitude his child will have.

On another note, when I taught back in the 60's and 70's we had to paddle our students for punishment. We would take them out in the hallway, get another teacher to witness and paddle away. Did it eliminate all the trouble - no.
!   Tuesday, April 14, 2009
You are truly a special man. Thanks for what you do. "Whoopin" is not effective or necessary in many cases. I kind of like Madea's methods. You know, Mable Simmons?
Good News   Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Rick, am I showing my age?!?!
pegi   Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Yeah Good News, Madea would threaten them with a splashing of hot grits. That'll teach 'em lol!
Ericka P & Co. ♥   Wednesday, April 15, 2009
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