Thursday, February 21, 2008

What Were You Thinking?

I know that we are all getting the winter blues but I’m hearing stories in the news that surprise and alarm me. Every teacher has these thoughts of what they would like to do but those are just thoughts and not actions. Even as a parent, there were times that I just wanted to pull my hair out with my teenagers or slap them into next year but I didn’t do either one. The same goes for teaching. At this time of year the students got antsy and bored plus I felt the same way so that combination didn’t lead to a very nice day in the classroom.

At one high school where I taught years ago I had a colleague who just couldn’t take this student anymore. He constantly spent the year disrupting her class, being disrespectful, and baiting her so she would get upset. The teacher did all the right things by punishing the student, calling the parents, referring him to the administrators but nothing changed this student’s behavior. In fact, the longer it went on the more control he seemed to gain and the less she seemed to have. Finally, after taking all that she could take, she threw a stapler at him and beaned him right in the forehead! The story about what happened probably went around the school faster than a speeding bullet. The student was taken to the nurse because of the blood flowing everywhere so all the students in the hall saw it. Needless to say, administrators were called and the teacher was removed from the classroom, never to return again. The sad part was that up until this point, she was an excellent teacher. Most of the students liked her and did very well on standardized tests. All of her evaluations were wonderful over the 20 years she had taught.

A couple of years ago, a teacher was reported in the news as to writing on an elementary school child’s forehead, “I will bring my glasses to school” in permanent marker. Apparently the girl wouldn’t bring her glasses and classwork was nearly impossible for her. After repeated calls home and punishing the girl, nothing worked so the teacher took it upon herself to remedy the situation. She also was removed from the classroom. I don’t think she was in the classroom long, but until this moment, apparently she had no problems in the classroom.

Then I read this article last week: Special Ed Student Taped to A Chair and thought, there goes another one.

When I hear these stories, I always wonder, “What in the world were they thinking?” Somebody needs to say, “Don’t do it! Don’t do the things you are thinking about that could cause you to lose your job! You have too much time and money invested in your career to throw it all away because you cannot control a student!” Well, there, I said it. I hope some teacher who is at the end of his or her rope, hears me and takes a deep breath. The only way to be successful in teaching is to recognize the times that you have to take a deep breath and NOT do the things you are thinking about.


Lisa Parisi said...

Interesting blog. I have had many instances in my 20+ years where I thought I was going to do something rash to control a situation. I have learned, instead, to leave the room. The kids actually think it's kind of funny when I say, "I'm taking a minute." and walk into the hall. They usually calm right down and I take my moment to think. Then I can find a better solution to the problem.

loonyhiker said...

Lisa: Imagine if we could write a book about what we could have done...Even teachers need a time out now and then (and that really gets the attention of the students).

Bill Gaskins said...

Today I heard about a classroom in Texas the teacher bullied her kids into doing their best on benchmark test and state testing. She told the kids that they would not get a summer vacation because they would be doing worksheets all summer at school. Several kids went home crying to their parents. Don't know what happen to the teacher.

In another elementary school, the principal decided that first through third grade needed to be departmentalized. Can you imagine? Teachers are not happy. Can any one show research supporting this drastic move? If so email me.