A student is making me rather uncomfortable

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Shanoo, May 2, 2010.

  1. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    I have a student who stares at me. A lot. And it's starting to bother me.

    In September, I would notice her staring at me during work time, so I'd ask her if she had a question. She almost always said yes, so I figured she was too shy to put her hand up and that was her way of letting me know that she needed my help.

    Well, I don't think that's the case anymore. You know when someone catches you staring at them and you immediately look away? Yeah, she doesn't do that. She'll continue to stare. Sometimes she smiles, but not in a good way. In a "I'm laughing at you" way. If it had been a one-time thing, I would have thought that maybe I had something on my face, or my zipper was down or something, but it's happened often enough that it can't be that. Sometimes she laughs outloud. To herself. While staring at me. The kids who sit around her look at her like she's crazy.

    What made me really uncomfortable was Friday. I caught her staring at me, asked her if she had a question and she said no. She continued to stare as I walked around the room. The class was writing a test and she got done early. She had some homework out and was "working" on that, but everytime I came into her line of sight, she would stop what she was doing and stare. Follow me with her eyes. It made me really uncomfortable.

    Anyway, to get to my point...what do I do? Should I say something to her? Her parents? Guidance? I teach grade 9, so it's not as if she may not be aware of social conventions.

    Any advice would be appreciated.
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I told a kid in my homeroom the other day to "stop trying to stare me down; it doesn't work with me."

    I thought she was going to die of shock; apparently no one has ever called her on it before.
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Just because she is in grade 9 doesn't mean anything about social conventions...have you considered that maybe this student has difficulty picking up on social cues/knowing how to act appropriately? Why not talk with the other teachers this student has? Also check the school records in the guidance office- there may be a paperwork trail delineating any past social difficulties.
     
  5. Shanoo

    Shanoo Habitué

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    I don't get the vibe that she's trying to stare me down. Half the time, I don't let her know that I see her staring. I just try and ignore it. It seems that it doesn't matter to her either way whether I've caught her staring or not.

    I've spoken with her science teacher and she told me that it happens with her, as well. i'll have to speak with her other teachers tomorrow.

    czacza, you could be right. I know that she isn't a very popular student. She has friends, but she isn't part of the "cool" crowd. I guess I just assumed that by grade 9 she would either be aware on her own, or have had another teacher/parent, etc. tell her that staring is not polite.
     
  6. bros

    bros Phenom

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    You might want to pull her aside and just talk to her about it. Tell her that staring is not considered nice and that when someone stares at someone, it might mean they have a question or something
     
  7. blindteacher

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    Is she from another cultural background? Some cultures emphasize keeping your eyes on the teacher at all times.
     
  8. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    I have a 8 year old student who is always staring at me. I just tell him that I know that I'm beautiful but he can't let my beauty stop him from doing his work :D.

    His staring does bother the other students though, so I told him that if he wants to look at someone than he has to count to 5 and then look away because it makes the other students feel uncomfortable.
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    OK, so you suspect it's not arrogance, but ignorance of social conventions.

    Could you talk to her? Or could you mention it to her homeroom teacher or her guidance counselor?
     
  10. Grapeless

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    It could also be fear of what you will be doing - that's a pretty common reaction for abused children
     
  11. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    "I just tell him that I know I'm beautiful but he can't let my beauty stop him from doing his work." This quote made my day--brought a huge smile to my face!!! :D
     
  12. Chalk

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    Go the Guidance folks and make sure you are documenting. If you choose to have talk with her, make sure you have a fellow teacher in direct line of sight.

    Could be anything, but something is odd . Document everything, it will help later if the councils notice some problems with the girls school/home life, it also serves to cover you backside should someone make false accusations about you.

    Our first duty is to the child's safety and success, do whatever it takes to get her help.
     
  13. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    The girl is trying to play head games with you and the other teachers. She has discovered that staring is a way to make others uncomfortable, especially when she says "No, I don't have a question" and keeps on staring. It doesn't matter that you actively acknowledge every time. You are peripherally aware of it and there is no doubt your body language is telling her loud and clear that is still "getting to you" even when you don't return her stare.

    Short version is that she has found something that gives her power and control over others that compensates for her lack of social acceptance. I bet if you watch her in other classes or lunchroom, she is using her stare on the popular girls when she isn't staring at a teacher.

    It IS unnerving when someone just stares constantly at you and she has discovered just how powerful this can be. It works on almost everyone to some degree

    If you look into her home life, I would almost guarantee she likes to watch horror movies and "slasher flicks" with the killers that never say a word to their victims and just stare at them as they approach. Her laughing while staring sounds like an attempt to put her on "signature" on the stare.

    I agree you should try talking to her privately about the issue and should also ask the guidance counselor to speak with her as well.
     
  14. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Wow. :wow: This is a gross generalization based on not knowing the child in question at all. As professionals, we should not be 'diagnosing' or judging kids based on anecdotal stories told by other teachers- Cerek, as a sub I hope you don't come to such snap judgements on the students with whom you come into brief contact.

    The OP is well-advised to check with the guidance counselor to see if there is any record of social issues/behavior concerns. Speaking to the student (I'd suggest with the guidance counselor present) is also a good idea.

    There are many possible reasons why this student may be acting this way. Writing it off as 'head games' curtails a professional educator's chance to make a difference in this student's school experience. :2cents:
     
  15. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    If you read my entire post, you know I agreed the guidance counselor should be involved. Do any of us know the full circumstances involved? No, we don't. But it sounds very much like this girl feels socially awkward (perhaps even "shunned" by the popular crowd) and has found a coping mechanism that allows her to regain some control and exert some "power" of her own over others.

    Of course, this came later in my post and perhaps you had made a snap judgment of your own regarding my comments by then.

    Just because I said the girl is playing "head games" doesn't mean the OP can't make a difference in her school experience. I did not dismiss her actions. Rather, I gave a very plausible explanation for her actions. Understanding WHY she is doing this is the first step to helping improve her school experience.
     
  16. Toak

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    Of course, for those of us who have taken psychology in class, we know that this girls action smack of fear, and rarely ever indicate an attempt of control rather than an attempt at protecting one's self from unexpected actions. Such students are often so afraid of what might happen to them that they have trouble paying attention to their work because they always need to see what others are doing to feel safe from threats, real or perceived. Their grades are often much better when they are allowed to sit in the last row and much lower when they are placed in the front row
     
  17. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Way too much armchair psychology going on. EVERYONE HERE has taken psych courses and ed psych courses, and none of us is qualified to address this issue.

    Talk to a licensed professional in guidance.
     
  18. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Of course. I assume the eerie smiling and laughing at the teacher while staring is also a sign of fear.

    I've taken psychology classes too, Toak. Even considered making it my major at one point. I respect the fact you feel you are more highly qualified to assess the girls actions (based on the same limited information) than I. I just happen to respectfully disagree. :)
     
  19. Toak

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    I never said I felt more qualified about you. however, you did give an entire case history about someone based on thing (and using one of the least frequent explanations that occur for that behavior). Two things which those familiar with psychology would know better than to do :)

    *Ps smiling is one of the most common signs of nervousness. Not as common as some others sure, but it sure makes the top list. Its more common than even yawning is
     
  20. TiffanyL

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    I have a bachelor's degree in psychology but I certainly believe that I would need much more information regarding this child's behavior before I could come to any conclusions.
     
  21. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    My major is in Psych as well, and I certainly couldn't come to any conclusion based on this post either.
     
  22. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    The OP described a situation, listed specific examples of the child's behavior and asked for advice. I gave my opinion of the situation based on the description of the behavior compared to behavior I have studied and observed since high school (when my interest in psychology and human behavior first became more focused).

    I also concurred the OP should speak with the guidance counselor and have the counselor speak with the child to get a better assessment of the situation.
     
  23. kstar03

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    "If you look into her home life, I would almost guarantee she likes to watch horror movies and "slasher flicks" with the killers that never say a word to their victims and just stare at them as they approach. Her laughing while staring sounds like an attempt to put her on "signature" on the stare."

    All I can say is wow....:unsure:
     
  24. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Yes, that's pure speculation on my part. Perhaps I could have said "It wouldn't surprise me" rather than "I almost guarantee". *shrug*

    The OP stated.....

    "Sometimes she smiles, but not in a good way. In a "I'm laughing at you" way. If it had been a one-time thing, I would have thought that maybe I had something on my face, or my zipper was down or something, but it's happened often enough that it can't be that. Sometimes she laughs outloud. To herself. While staring at me. The kids who sit around her look at her like she's crazy."

    The "silent villain" is a staple of horror movies. The villain also is often someone that was an outcast that was teased, bullied and/or excluded by the "in crowd". The OP stated the girl has friends but isn't part of the "cool" crowd.

    So I will revise my previous statement.

    The girl seems to be purposefully staring at the OP (and other teachers) in an effort to make them uncomfortable. When they become uncomfortable, this might give her a feeling of power she doesn't have through other avenues or activities.

    My guess is that she may have seen a movie (or movies) with a character she identified with and the actions of the character as a way to gain more control or power over her own situation.

    Maybe I'm way off base; maybe I'm not. Maybe Shanoo could keep us updated on the situation as things progress, but since it is getting close to the end of the school year, there might not be enough time for the counselor and others to look into the situation as thoroughly as needed.
     
  25. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Your revised post sounds much better! Thanks, Cerek!
     
  26. skittleroo

    skittleroo Connoisseur

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    I think that it is, at least, cause for concern that def. should be addressed. This is not normal behavior. I would hate to think of this situation progressing to a dangerous point (not saying it would, but in today's world......). Get someone to check into it. It will make you feel better, and on the off chance the girl is just socially akward maybe someone can help her. That behavior is not healthy and could get her hurt if she does that to the wrong person.
     
  27. Shanoo

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    Hey guys.

    Thanks for all the replies. They certainly have given me something to think about.

    As added insight: I see this girl's class every other day. Some days, she is fine. Others, she stares. Thursday she stared. A lot. Today, not at all.

    I think that's part of the problem. If it happened every day, I think it would be more obvious to me that something was wrong. As it is, I'm afraid that I'm making more of it than I should. At the same time, when she does stare, she REALLY stares. And smiles. And laughs.

    Cerek, it's funny you should mention horror movies. I spoke to this girl's science teacher today and she described the girl smiling while staring as a "I know where I'm going to hide your body" kind of smile.

    Guidance counselors were out of the building today at meetings. I'll see what they have to say about it tomorrow.

    Again, thanks for all of the advice.
     
  28. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Thanks. While I still feel pretty confident about my initial assessment, I looked over my original post and realized I had gotten more than a little carried away. So I collected my thoughts a little better this time around. ;)
     
  29. TeacherSandra

    TeacherSandra Enthusiast

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    I'm scared :eek:hmy:
     
  30. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Me too Sandra!
     
  31. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Using my own school, the other school in which I've taught and my husband's school as a guide:

    If a teacher brought an issue like this one to guidance this morning, the kid would have a guidance appointment by this afternoon. No question.

    Look at how quickly members of this board were able to come up with an assessment; I'm fairly certain that a licenced professional would have adequate time to address the situation.

    Professional Guidance Counselors know that if a teacher has a concern like this one, particularly an issue that multiple teachers have experienced with the same child, it needs to be addressed right away. Other less pressing issues can wait.
     
  32. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Sorry, poor wording on my part again.

    I was not suggesting the counselors wouldn't take time to talk with the girl when they learn about her behavior. I'm sure they will want to talk with her as soon as they can. They should be able to form an initial assessment and suggest a treatment plan after meeting with her, but discovering all the underlying issues and monitoring the treatment plan will likely take several weeks.

    Shanoo might be able to tell us about the initial assessment, but the school year will probably end before counselors can look into the situation as thoroughly as needed.
     
  33. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Ok. I am interested to see what the counselors have to say. There definitely seems to be something going on, but I cannot give any further advice than what has already been offered on here. I simply don't know, and I have not encountered this sort of situation previously. Please keep us updated!
     
  34. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I have no advice, but I do want to say that I'm pretty creeped out. This whole post gives me chills. Icky.
     
  35. loveoforganic

    loveoforganic Rookie

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    Sorry, this is a little off topic, but it's irking me. Psych majors are not qualified to make clinical assessments either!
     
  36. Mart

    Mart Rookie

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    I had a student like that a few years ago. What happened was that he had simple partial epilepsy but no one knew it, and my walking in front of him triggered a seizure that made it look as if he was staring. For the same reason, he'd also laugh at the weirdest times. He'd often have weird smiles when he came out of the seizure as a way to cover up that he had to think about what he was supposed to be doing (since he just missed a few seconds to a few minutes of class), and I believe it also helped deal with "feeling weird" after the seizure too
     
  37. Loves the beach

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    Hmm. Lots to think about.
     
  38. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    That's very interesting information, Mart. I didn't realize there was a form of epilepsy that did that. Thanks for sharing the information.
     
  39. bros

    bros Phenom

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    The post ictal stage is always interesting.

    For me, depending on the intensity of the seizure, it can be anything ranging from me being incredibly hyper for 5-10 minutes then crash for the rest of the day to being completely out of it for 5 minutes after the seizure then being out of it and tired as hell for the rest of the day.

    However, with simple partial seizures, they can be a bit hard to diagnose unless they are caught on an EEG, as they just appear to be staring. The student might just attribute the sensations they experience during the seizure to not eating or something else.

    Although, I don't think they would be able to visually track during the seizure depending on what happens during it.

    I've been told that the eyes have a glazed over sort of look during seizures.
     
  40. hac711

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    Maybe she has mild autism? Or another mental disorder? I had a kid who was schizophrenic and would talk to "things" or just stare (we called it aligning planets time). Talk to a social worker, maybe??
     
  41. Toak

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    It does depend a bit on whether the person loses conciousness or not. I can carry on conversations during partials, though my speech will be a little slowed. Only once did I have difficulty speaking (in my mind) another time no one could understand me because my speech was so slurred but that was moments before generalization. I've had a few seizures that have left me roaming the streets ranting (a bonus of being on keppra) but mostly I'm just too exhausted to do anything afterwards - the exhaustion doesn't hit until a few hours after the seizure though. Then, if I'm not near a bed, i'm not going to make it to one before I need to sleep.. That lasts anywhere from 4 hours to 7 days.
     

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