Dealing with rude comments

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by 7thbynni, Dec 9, 2013.

  1. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Dec 9, 2013

    A lot of teachers tell me to let go of the rude comments. And I do see the value in that if I ask the student to pick up something they threw and they mutter under their breath, "stupid teacher" under their breath. I could understand being satisfied that at least they picked up what they threw, and pretending not to hear the comment.

    But when a student yells, "I HEARD YOU THE FIRST TIME, ARE YOU DEAF?" when I ask them to get back to their work, I hate letting something like that slide.

    It turns out that I have a very low tolerance for rude comments. Even the scenario of the student muttering "stupid teacher" under their breath while sulkily doing something I asked them to do leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

    It also turns out that I have a low tolerance for their argumentative nature. They argue over everything. For instance, we finished making landform models a lot sooner than I anticipated and since we had twenty minutes left, I told them that we will work on some language arts for the rest of the class. OMG, the rage from the students that ensued. They wanted free time, they felt entitled to free time since I said they would X amount of time to work on their island so the left time should be theirs to do what they want.

    I insisted on learning and was called evil, cheap, loser, etc. and had half the students refuse to do work until I threatened to keep them after school to finish it.

    They argue like that over nearly every instruction or decision I make - Christmas concert performance, when religion was cancelled and I chose that we do a lesson instead of giving them free time, the time I picked them up from their second language class where that teacher gave them free time and forgot to bring back to my class and I told the students to clear up their games and youtube videos because we were late for reading buddies. One of the my students told me, "you **** me off so much" as he was lining up. I pretended not to hear it because giving him a warning or detention seemed like it was too harsh, and from experience, calling him out for rudeness would lead to him AND the class exploding ("You're the rude one! Reading buddies is stupid!")

    Right now, my method of dealing with it is basically to ignore the comments, shut down the arguments, and make them do what I asked them to. I do get them to get through the lesson or do the work (they're usually calling me names under their breath as they do their part), and I guess I should satisfied with getting them to learn something, but I'm not.

    Today, I had to put up with two bouts of arguing and rude comments, and by the time I left for home, I was feeling upset even though I did get them to do work. I need to figure out how to deal with their rudeness and disrespect.

    So here are my questions:

    1. How do I develop a "water off my back" skin that doesn't get upset with rude comments and constant arguments so I can let those comments slide?

    2. In the very likely case that I'm unable to develop that skin, would it be too harsh to give warning and detentions for rude comments?

    I do talk to the students privately that their comments are rude or disrespectful but they either laugh at me or argue with me ("only you would have a problem with it") or they get even more rude. I've also talked to parents, but they seem to be clueless about how to deal with it. So right now my options seem to be developing a "water off my back" skin or giving out warnings and detentions, or a mixture of both. other suggestions would be welcome too.

    (BTW, things have gotten better. It's mostly just the rudeness and the disrespect. Everything else is much better. The students are listening more and, surprisingly, learning a lot.)
     
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  3. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Dec 9, 2013

    I don't ignore those comments. Under the breath ones, I MIGHT depending on how quietly they're spoken and said, but def not the "deaf" comment. Whenever i get comments, I say "Excuse me?" and give the look and follow with "do you want to reconsider how you're speaking to me?" If they don't change the attitude quick, I ask them to step into the hall for a private conversation.

    I wouldn't write a referral (which is what would give them detention at my school) unless it was a repeat behavior or included cursing/threatening, but I wouldn't let blatant disrespect slide.
     
  4. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Dec 9, 2013

    Thanks HistoryVA. I haven't gained enough authority to make a private conversation effective yet, but it helps to know that you wouldn't let the comments slide. I know other teachers mean well when they tell me not to take them personally or let them slide, but augh, I just can't.

    We don't need to write referrals here, so I think if the student is still being rude and disrespectful after I call them out on it, they're getting five minutes.
     
  5. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Dec 9, 2013

    There's a big difference between the two. You absolutely should NOT take it personally. 9 times out of 10, they're not snarking at you; they're just snarking. It doesn't even occur to them that you're a real person with feelings. So, you can't take it personally, as in let it actually hurt your feelings or dedicate any of your "real time" to thinking about what they said.

    However, letting it go is completely different. You can not let it bother you and still correct misbehavior. In my opinion, I'm not just here to teach History content; I'm there to help create decent adults. Decent adults don't make nasty remarks when asked to do something at work. If that's a skill you need to learn, I'm going to teach it.
     
  6. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Dec 9, 2013

    *lightbulb moment* Got it! I have been basing this too much on personal feelings instead of whether or not it's acceptable for someone to act that way.

    I'm going to work on not getting upset by their comments, and addressing their rudeness in a way that tells them it's wrong not because it upset me but because it's unacceptable to act like that.
     
  7. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    Dec 11, 2013

    Well put 7thbynni....

    You're going to do great :) I think I've gotten better (not perfect but better) about not taking things as personally this year, maybe it just takes practice.

    I think kids like teachers who have a definite line on what's right and what's wrong because they feel safer. (I notice with the young ones, it's those teachers who the kids will draw random pictures for or give a hug in the hallway.) I don't think kids actually want to be out of control. And with a teacher who puts their foot down they know that teacher is not going to let them get out of control. But those teachers aren't putting their foot down because the kid hurt their feelings, they're putting their foot down because the behavior is not right in general, no matter who it's towards.

    Not that I'm that way at all...I've just been thinking about it a lot when I watch the other teachers in my school who've been here for a while, and trying to figure out what it is about them the kids respect.
     
  8. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    Dec 11, 2013

    Also - (more reflecting) maybe it's better to have that impersonal line between right and wrong, that's not related to how you're feeling, because how you're feeling from day to day changes. And students experience that inconsistency probably all the time from other adults in their lives, so for teachers to be really consistent - they notice.

    I think especially kids who maybe have had abusive adults in their lives - those adults were probably extremely emotional, and inconsistent, so the kids really need the structure at school more because they're very innately sensitive to how adult's feelings can affect their interaction with kids.

    OK, anyways, sorry to blab. It's a really interesting thread and it was making me think :)
     
  9. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Dec 11, 2013

    Glad you're finding it an interesting thread, Willow! I'm really glad to have your two cents :) I like what you said about feelings changing from day to day and the importance of having consistency. I definitely agree with you that kids really need structure at school. I do agree with the theory that students like a teacher who puts their foot down. It's just hard for sometimes when I'm not sure what is the right thing to do, and I'm afraid of putting my foot down for the wrong thing. I get so many conflicting advice from different teachers.

    LOL. Not perfect but better is a good direction! I'm glad you're betting better at not taking things personally. It's SO HARD. The students were really pushing buttons again today. One of my students called me a ****ing teacher so I gave him a detention for swearing and then he yelled, "You better not be teaching grade 8 next year!" (Due to the high turnover and behavioural issues of my school, it's it's not unusual for a teacher to move up a grade with a difficult class.)

    I ignored the grade 8 comment because I too angry about it and I knew if I addressed it, my anger would show. This holiday will be devoted to figuring out how to deal with rudeness and disrespect so I can have a script to follow when my students are rude in the new year. I know I have to spell it out clearly (my students will pick every technicality they can to start an argument), make it known to students, model and practice it, and involve parents.

    And then comes the difficult part of being consistent with it, because I'm totally one of those people who will let things go because I'm tired or lulled into a false security that the kids are so good I can be lax today.
     
  10. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    Dec 11, 2013

    I wouldn't let any of it go, I'd call them out on it and then take their log-silent lunch, recess lost, something.

    I would also call mom and dad and have the student explain what they said to the parent.

    I would do that now in 4th and would've done it last year in 7th--except for the whole no recess thing, obviously...

    Maybe i'm over-reacting?
     
  11. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    Dec 11, 2013

    OMG. I would've said "I hope I do! I'm super excited about possibly having you for another year!"

    Is that too snarky?
     
  12. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Dec 11, 2013

    Few of us are "naturals" - those who make discipline look effortless and in the background. I'm sure you have observed or had a class from a natural. Year after year they seem to get all the "good kids" when in reality it's their management skills.

    Most naturals are at a loss to tell you how they "do it". Untrained observers will not likely catch what they are doing. When asked in interviews the most common explanation is, "The kids know I mean business." Okay. Fine. But how do you mean business? This is the part which gets lost in translation.

    Researchers observing the "naturals" watched and watched trying to decipher just exactly what they were doing. There were no visual displays - star charts, marble jars, cards, clip boards etc. No public names on display. The naturals didn't raise their voices. They seemed to be walking around the room enjoying teaching with students who liked coming to class.

    After months of watching and scores of brainstorming sessions the observing teams finally saw the "it". From this sprang "skills" which can be taught to "unnaturals" (like myself).

    Consider a look at Tools For Teaching by Fred Jones. Start with chapter 18 - "Eliminating Backtalk".
     
  13. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Dec 12, 2013

    If I heard it, you said it and I'm holding you accountable. The consequence can be anything from a look to a "see me after school" to a detention with the dean.

    How are kids ever going to learn acceptable behavior if they're never held accountable for it? Ignoring rudeness and disrespect doesn't make them go away, it sends the message that they're acceptable.

    I really, really like most of my kids. So my corrections are made in their best interests, understanding that they're kids just learning how to manage their feelings and emotions. Down the road, an employer-- or some guy in a bar-- isn't going to have their best interests at heart the way I do.
     
  14. Goingback

    Goingback Rookie

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    Dec 12, 2013

    My response to a rude comment is usually a quick, private conference with the student....usually goes something like "I do not allow my own children to speak to me like that, I'm not sure why you think it is okay. But if you feel it is necessary we will go down to the phone and let you call parent and explain to them why it is okay for you to speak to me this way." I have not yet had to take a kid to the phone to make that call, but they are very aware that I will follow through. I do enjoy my middle schoolers but they do know how to push your limits at times.
     
  15. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Dec 13, 2013

    Have you ever read Ron Clark's The Essential 55? I think one of his first rules for classroom behavior is no muttering under your breath or talking back at all. (edit: I just found the list of rules and can't find that one specifically... but I feel like it's mentioned in the book somewhere.) It's a really great book about holding students to high expectations.
     
  16. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    Dec 14, 2013

    God I know what you mean about not knowing what/when is right!! When you figure it out tell me ;)

    I think again, it is actually really normal to be hurt by what they're saying. I think you definitely have a tough group of kids from what I'm hearing. So don't feel bad that it does hurt, you care! But you will also learn and get better and not take things as personally as you do learn.

    Have you talked to your administration about this?

    So I think, an example of how things can get better emotionally: I know I'm not the favorite specialist at my school right now (WHICH SUCKS). I have a 5th grade class with some tough kids from our behavior program. This group has had students traded into different classes and has ended up as a mix (for some unfathomable reason) of really TOUGH kids from the gen ed group also - the gen ed group is almost worse in some ways, they don't come with aids, just a ton of attitude. So, anyways, my class with them on Friday, I started by just talking about rules and respect. Discussion didn't exactly go my way, ended up with a couple of kids being like "we hate this class! whinewhinewhine". I told them I wasn't asking them to like anything, I was asking them to be respectful. So, I don't know, maybe it should, and usually it does, but it didn't hurt my feelings quite as much as it has in the past. Why? I am aware they don't like the class. It doesn't help me to be depressed about it, that just makes me hate my job. The situation for me is: I'm a second year teacher and I'm learning, unfortunately beginning teaching is trial by fire. There are going to be times that I don't do a perfect job. (Clearly this is one of those times.) *I* know that I'm going to go home and think and try again with something new. But the kids don't understand that, they're kids. I don't know if this is a good train of thought but I feel like it's the only way I can forgive myself and the kids and let myself learn from mistakes/tough groups.

    Well, anyways, the class didn't go great obviously (oh and on top of that! there was a woman waiting in my entry way for most of class, since she didn't come in I thought maybe she was observing a student in the behavior program. Turned out she was the mayor's wife, the parent of one of my 5th graders, there to get some kids to sign a card for a sick teacher. Sooooo the mayor's wife was standing in ear shot of the kids telling me they hate my class and being rude. Fabulous.) Anyways. Right after the class I emailed my vice principal, I haven't ever asked him specifically for help. We met and came up with a plan. Maybe having met with him is the reason I'm not stewing about how rude they are like I have in the past, I don't know. But I know it's a major improvement from how I was feeling this time last year with tough groups. Does that give you hope?? Again, maybe talking with administration would help....

    Something the Vice Principal said also that is so true and well put is: We talk about discipline and....well I guess it's sort of like training a dog (bad comparison maybe???) But, it's not really about the trainee having discipline, it's about the teacher having discipline. The discipline to correct behaviors when they appear and not let things slide. Anyways I liked that so thought I would share with you :)

    HUGS! (Sorry I write such long posts)
     
  17. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Dec 15, 2013

    Adamsnjakesmommy – LOL. I think that response is the right kind of snarkiness. Now I wish I said that.

    Loomistrout and otterpop – THANK-YOU for labelling what my problem is! Backtalk. That’s it exactly. It’s not just the rude comments, it’s the arguments I always have to put up with, and I didn’t know what it was specific. Now that I can name it, I can address it and come up with something specific to let the students know that backtalk is unacceptable. That was a huge help! I’ll see if I could get a copy of Tools for Teachings and read The Essential 55 this holiday.

    HeartDrama – It’s good to know that you do think being defiant like that is enough to warrant a phone call home. I’m going to work on not engaging in arguments. It’s hard because I know the rest of the class thinks I’m evil for giving out any kind of consequences for rudeness and I feel like I need to explain myself, but all that ever brought me was even more arguments. I need to stop worrying about looking “unfair” to the students and hoping that I can reason with them and instead work on having them realize that what matters is that they will get a consequence.

    Alice – that’s a really good way of putting it. The kids do need to learn acceptable language, especially when they get employed.

    Going back – There are definitely some kids that making a phone call home would work (though I have kids who parents think everyone else is the problem and teachers have no right correcting their misbehaviours) and your idea of getting them to explain their comments to their parents would work great with them.

    Willow – Don’t apologize about the long comment. Thanks for taking the time to write it. It’s great to hear from someone else who sounds like they’ve gone through the same thing in their first year, and you’ve been so encouraging! It’s hard not letting those comments sting. I always have the intention of going into class and not being bothered by them, and then a student makes a comment about how I need to go back to where I came from or how I can’t tell them what to do because this isn’t residential school and all intentions goes out the window.

    I haven’t talked to the admin about it. To put it delicately, admin here is not quite up to speed (when we teachers get together to talk about the admin, we are far less delicate), but I think I will talk to the other teachers whose opinions I’m starting to trust about it. I know the other new teacher is having trouble with rude students as well, so maybe we could work together and come up with a plan on how to deal with it.

    <i>Sooooo the mayor's wife was standing in ear shot of the kids telling me they hate my class and being rude. Fabulous.</i>

    OUCH! >_< I’m so sorry you went through that. *hugs* It really does suck when the students don’t like your class. I think teachers go into teaching with dreams of helping children find passion in learning and it’s such a slap to the face when they say they hate your class. I’m learning to forgive myself for not being able to make class fun all the time. It’s hard. I’m glad it’s getting easier for you to not take their comments personally. I think you’re awesome that you’re determine not to give up and you’re going to work on learning and trying to make things better. You have grit and a growth mind and that is awesome! :) Go you!

    Your VP is great. Thanks for adding your voice for not letting things slide. I’m going to work on that.
     
  18. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    Dec 16, 2013


    YUP.

    There's this video one of my best friends sent to me to encourage me in my music making. But then I started teaching and I think it's still true. Here's the vid:

    http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/02/22/ira-glass-on-the-secret-of-success/

    So, the good taste we have comes from the fact that we had teachers and we learned from them you know? But they had to practice and work to get to where they were (I think/I hope)

    Anyways, I'm hoping that vid really can apply to teaching too.
     
  19. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Dec 17, 2013

    That's a fantastic video, Willow. I think it definitely can apply to teaching! Thanks for sharing it with me. I'm going to share it with other people. It's always good to be reminded that it's okay not to be a "natural" at something right away, and and hard work and experience WILL make a difference.
     
  20. orangepurple

    orangepurple Companion

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    Jan 7, 2014

    I agree that there is a difference between not taking it personally and putting up with bad behavior. I try to keep the emphasis on teaching the student how to behave in order to get along in the world, not just with me, with an eye to the future workplace, etc. So one thing that helps me sometimes to keep it from being an ongoing backtalk thing is to send the student out with a "refocus" form to a neighboring classroom, have them copy something like the classroom agreements or a paragraph on respect and then write down what they did and if they are ready to come back to class and follow expectations. If it's an ongoing problem, then they also need to see me after school, and then we progress to parent conference, etc.
     

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