How can I deal with students mocking me?

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by microbe, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. microbe

    microbe Comrade

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    Jan 15, 2013

    Unfortunately it has gotten extremely common for students to mock me behind my back or to my face. I'm really not sure how to deal with it. Up to this point I have been ignoring it all, but it has really started to get to me and affecting me at work.

    I get mocked because I'm a very small woman with a "nerdy" voice. Apparently I have a very strong resemblance to Velma from Scooby Doo. When children mock me, they'll either call me Velma or impersonate my voice. I'm not sure how to exactly handle this situation, especially when they mock my voice, because they can easily say they didn't do anything wrong.

    So how can I manage getting personally insulted?
     
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  3. JustMe

    JustMe Guru

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    Jan 15, 2013

    The students will say what they will on their own time, but it is NOT acceptable for them to be this rude to anyone on your watch. You may be hestitant to give consequences because you don't want to seem weak and hurt, but I think it's possible to be so cut and dry about it that it doesn't seem like you're hurt, only that you're not one to allow such disrespect in your classroom.
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jan 15, 2013

    I think you have a few options, depending on what you're most comfortable with. You can ignore, give them "the look", or just laugh and say that you've heard that one before.

    I have a strong (very strong) North Dakota accent. Think "noooooootes" and "booooooooats" and "wei-gins" (instead of wagons, which is a common vocabulary word in the subject I teach). Students always make fun of me. I just laugh it off and make a big show of thinking of synonyms so that I don't have to say the words that they'll make fun of me for. At the same time, I don't think that they're being mean-spirited, so it's easy to laugh. If they were being mean-spirited, like calling me fat or something, it would be harder to laugh it off, but I'd probably try to go in that direction because it suits my personality and seems believable. I also think that it catches the students off guard enough that they are shocked into behaving, at least for a while.
     
  5. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    Jan 15, 2013

    Agree with Caesar, you do have a few options.
    1. Ignore. Especially if they ignore you behind your back, what can you do about it? As far as mocking you to your face, give them a lot of work, keep them busy, and any mocking should be dealt with as if they were being disruptive, for example tell them to get back to work, etc. a lot of things stop when being ignored, because these things are done to annoy the teacher. If it's not annoying, it's not fun.

    2. don't ignore it, but don't make a big deal out of it. Try to laugh with them, just like ignoring it, it will lose the fun, so they will probably stop after a while. I have a European accent, it's not thick, but it's definitely there. Sometimes, once in a while someone will say something with an accent, in a girl's voice, obviously mocking me. Honestly, it doesn't even sound like mocking, it doesn't hurt my feelings, it just sounds silly. All I say is: "really? you're gonna make fun of my accent?". (as in: that's all you can do? or after all the respect I've shown you, you'll mock me? it can have different meanings, based on how they perceive it). They stop, and never do it again. This has only happened a handful of time in a year and a half. I think if I would have gotten upset, they would have kept it up, because they would've found something that got to me.

    3. If you do want to assign a consequence, you should do it in a matter-of-fact way, without being emotional. I would say something that mocking is mean spirited, can be hurtful, and you would never allow them to do this to another student. So you have to assign a consequence, because other wise they won't learn. You can give them a final warning, or assign the consequence. It is disruptive, because they are making noises, and are being disrespectful. But however you deal with it, you can't let them think that they hurt your feelings, because they might make it worse (everyone does it, and then you have to punish the whole class) or they found something else to get to you, because they see you as weak.
     
  6. HeartDrama

    HeartDrama Connoisseur

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    Jan 15, 2013

    I think you should embrace it, or don't ignore it. I don't know what a "nerdy" voice sounds like, but if it's something you can't change, use it to your advantage. Clearly it bothers you, so if you ignore it, you will continue to get your feelings hurt.
    Once they know they can't get to you that way, they'll drop it.
    Only you can control how you feel, you can choose not to be insulted. Especially by obnoxious kids.

    OMG!! As I typed that last sentence I heard something related to this. I'm watching the DVR which is showing Oprah's Lifeclass. Rick Warren is talking about living with the hand you're dealt and being okay with things about yourself that you can't help.
     
  7. JustMe

    JustMe Guru

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    Jan 15, 2013

    I don't see this as being about HER, but the students. The students are behaving in an unacceptable manner.
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jan 15, 2013

    Label the behavior and move on...."That's rude. Finish your work." and then focus your attention elsewhere.
     
  9. JustMe

    JustMe Guru

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    Jan 15, 2013

    I just realized you're a sub. That does change things. I like the idea of expressing that it's rude in a non-emotional manner and having them get busy.
     
  10. HeartDrama

    HeartDrama Connoisseur

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    Eh.. I could be reading too much into it.

    Cza's suggestion is good.
     
  11. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jan 16, 2013

    I think that this is also a good suggestion.

    I have done this before. I've also given an eyebrow raise, sort of like, "Hmm, interesting", and told them to get back to work. It has been effective for me.

    Students do this sort of thing because they are looking for a negative reaction. They expect teachers to either get their feelings hurt or to blow up, both of which are evidently amusing to watch. Don't be their entertainment for the day.
     
  12. HeatherY

    HeatherY Habitué

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    Jan 16, 2013

    My husband and I have just been discussing this type of thing. There is a difference between a mean spirited teasing and a friendly teasing. In my family, we are friendly teasers, but in his family teasing was not allowed at all because it can be mean. To me, this sounds harmless. I'd embrace it. I have a weird name and sometimes kids like to make up rhymes. I just go with it. I don't feel like they are doing it to be mean. I guess you just need to decide, is it mean spirited, or is it because they enjoy you? Does Velma have a catch phrase? I'd start saying it whenever they do that. They might just be trying to connect with you.
     
  13. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Virtuoso

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    Jan 16, 2013

    "Jinkies. My voice is odd. That solves that Scooby Doo mystery." Said calmly but with the understanding that you get the joke and are quite in on it. When I was subbing, my usual ribbing from students was my height. "Wow, I'm short? Thanks."
     
  14. Portulaca

    Portulaca Rookie

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    Jan 16, 2013

    All of the ideas here would probably work well, depending on your style and the situation. As far as my personal response to this type of thing, and with the caveat that I usually work with secondary students, I use a somewhat bored-sounding, "Don't be rude," followed by hammering them about (why they don't have their work out/what they got for #2/etc., depending on what's going on in class at the moment.)

    Unfortunately, many students do think they have a perfect right to be rude to subs. I know this because often I get asked, "Wait, are you a real teacher or just a sub?", which seems to be almost immediately followed by an attitude adjustment after I explain that I'm licensed, but subbing while job searching. (It boggles their minds that this is even possible, but that's another thread!) The disdainful attitude seems to be a long-standing cultural trait and probably will never be rooted out totally, but that's no reason to let it slide in individual cases. Other kids genuinely don't mean any harm, but they obviously don't understand that you can't "joke" with a stranger the same way you can with someone with whom you have an established relationship. It's important to calmly point this out; after all, if they don't understand (and apply!) this basic social skill, they're going to get themselves into a lot of uncomfortable situations in life.
     
  15. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    Jan 16, 2013

    i teach 7th and some of my kids have tried this. i agree with other pp where you state "that's rude" and then move on. I have also said, "i would hope by 7th grade we could eliminate the childish behavior and act like we are heading into mature teenage years" that usually gets the kid to stop. (i actually have had a kid come up and apologize) sometimes they dont even realize that that behavior is rude and "childish"
     
  16. StellatheSub

    StellatheSub Rookie

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    Jan 17, 2013

    I don't have a ton of advice, but I know the importance of not giving a response to the class clown when they are in front of their audience. The mocker wants to engage you in a battle of wits with a jury of their peers. This is a battle you can't win, since it will be 25 against 1. It's better to show no emotion and wait till later, like once you have all the students working on an assignment, and then to privately talk to the student in the hall, and let them know they can apologize and show you respect for the rest of the hour or they can head on down to the office while you call and let the office know why you are sending the student down there. Also, if more than one person is mocking you, just go after the ring leader or first offender. The rest will quickly fall in line when they find out that there will be consequences. Once you have had a bit of success in using this method, you will start putting off an aura and the students will sense that they can't mess with you. This has been my experience.
     
  17. MrsPoppy

    MrsPoppy Rookie

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    Jan 23, 2013

    While my voice is normal (although one student told me I yell like a man. I said Thank You!) I have a difficult last name that starts with a P. Students would start by calling me Mrs. P. Within about 15-30 minutes, someone would realize how it sounded and start calling me Mrs. PeePee. At first I told them to stop and that it was rude, but they weren't impressed. So I told them I wouldn't acknowledge students or answer questions from students who called me by a disrespectful name. When it suddenly meant they wouldn't get attention at all, it went back to Mrs. P or a reasonable attempt at my name. I have since made up an easier name to cut down on that even more (Mrs. Poppy)
     
  18. StellatheSub

    StellatheSub Rookie

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    Jan 23, 2013

    That's a good idea Mrs. Poppy! My name sounds like something in nature. I don't want to say what. Just wonder about it.... Anyways, I am artistic, so I always draw a picture on the board next to my name, and students never forget my name after that. The visual representation really helps.
     
  19. Jeky

    Jeky Comrade

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    Jan 23, 2013

    Can you please move to California and sub for my classes while you are job-hunting?!! :)
     
  20. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Jan 23, 2013

    My maiden name was pretty bad (was always made fun of it in school). Then I got married and that name means something naughty (apparenlty, I didn't know). So, I go by Mrs. N. But then three other coworkers copied me so we now have a Mrs. D, Mrs. M, and another Mrs. D. Poor kids.
     
  21. hbcaligirl1985

    hbcaligirl1985 Cohort

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    Jan 24, 2013

    I had it pretty bad today at a continuation school. I was a b---h, a c--t, stupid, worthless, not a real teacher etc. The worse part is another aide--an ADULT aide was in the room and would not back me up or tell them to stop. Students were openly texting and cheating during a quiz and when I walked over, put my hand on the desk of the ring leader and told him he needed to stop texting or I'd be taking his phone to the office for him to claim at the end of the day I got this: "you aren't taking my phone you f--king stupid b---h. If I don't listen to my real teacher what the f--k makes you think I'm going to listen to you?"
     

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