Demoralising Comments from Students

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by miss tree, May 22, 2010.

  1. miss tree

    miss tree Rookie

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    May 22, 2010

    I recently started teaching at a new school. The teacher before me was well liked by the students and she grew up in this close knit community and knows many of their families, went to the school herself etc

    Since starting i have had major issues with behaviour that I'm trying to get on top of. The most demoralising thing to deal though is with the horrible comments from students who tell me that they used to love this subject but hate my class (I've taught this particular class about 5 times), have no hope of passing with me as their teacher, wish they still had their old teacher etc.

    I know I should just let these comments roll right off me but I'm in a very exhausted and fragile state right now and they are really getting to me to the extent that I'm actually questioning if I want to continue teaching. I was just wondering if other teachers have had similar experiences and how they deal with this kind of negativity.

    I really don't think I should have to put up with this kind of disrespect but my head teacher has made it clear that it's up to me to deal with behaviour issues and I don't feel comfortable going to her with this problem.
     
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  3. DHE

    DHE Connoisseur

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    May 22, 2010

    I have never dealt with a situation like this, but I will say that I am sorry that you are going thru this. Please remember that adjustments have to be made for both parties. The students have to learn a new teaching style and you have to learn them. In time they will begin to make the adjustments that you require. Keep your head up, do your best, and let them deal with the rest. Do your job and the rest will come.
     
  4. teacherpippi

    teacherpippi Habitué

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    May 22, 2010

    Honestly, this first year you may just have to let a lot of stuff go. As they're getting used to you, they *will* be comparing things a lot.

    Can you come up with a standard response?

    "Thanks for letting me know."
    "If you can think of some specific activities you loved doing with Mrs. Oldteacher, let me know and I can try to work them in with my students next year."
    "You are in charge of your feelings. You are more than welcome to love this class or hate this class. I've stated what you can do to pass. The rest is up to you."

    If they see things are getting to you, they're more likely to make more comments.

    Things should be significantly better next year! The first year after a beloved teacher is always the hardest.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    May 22, 2010

    Realize that if a beloved teacher left ( particularly if it was sudden) their reaction is normal. They're adolescants, and it's what they do. It's the whole "You, sir, are no John Kennedy" thing-- that someone who is gone is put up on a pedestal, his or her faults instantly erased.

    And teenagers are typically lacking in the good sense to keep their thoughts to themselves.

    I agree-- you have to develop you own teacher persona, and just get through the year. It's late May-- you probably only have 3 or 4 more weeks to go. When you start next year, it will be YOUR class, not her's, and you'll see a remarkable difference. For this year, you just have to let the comments roll off you. Don't defend yourself, don't get caught up in the "whys" of your policies, just remain professional and be the best teacher you can be.

    Why do they say they have no hope of passing? Are the grades that bad? Was the former teacher that easy or are you starting from a place you expect them to be, that they're not ready for? Perhaps a starting place would be to get the content on track with where they are? That might cut down on the negativity a bit.
     
  6. Muttling

    Muttling Devotee

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    May 22, 2010

    I've never dealt with your situation, but I think I have a good idea......


    If they are convinced that they can't pass, give them very black and white answers. Do this and you will pass.

    Do this as a class, come up with a check list of what you expect of them and make it very blunt. Run this check list daily.

    Post grades in your room every week by student number to let them know where they stand.


    I am big on showing me proficeincy so I'm big on tests n quizzes, I don't think this will work in your situation. Be big on simply doing the work. Collect it and grade it.

    If you give them a clear target to shoot at, many of your problems will go away. If they don't have a clear mark to hit for passing the class, they will assume the worst.
     
  7. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    May 22, 2010

    I'm sorry you are going through this. I don't have any other advice to add to the advice given by the other posters. I agree that by starting out next year in the class will be a huge difference because it will be YOUR class and YOUR students.
     
  8. nothermanda

    nothermanda Companion

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    May 22, 2010

    You're in a difficult situation, but don't give up! Remember, you'll still be there next year, and they won't. I may seem uncaring, but that's what got me through a remarkably similar situation.

    Be careful to control your tone of voice; if you constantly give replies like those suggested by TeacherPippi in a dispassionate, robotic monotone, they'll discover that they can't get a rise out of you, and it won't be as fun for them.

    Also, be careful to differentiate between those students who are trying to harass you, and those who are truly trying to tell you about activities or lessons they really liked. Ignore comments from former, and cultivate relationships with the latter.

    Don't put up with outright abuse. I had a little group of girls who, even after they moved on to high school, came back to harass me, and I had to ask the principal to ask their parents not to bring them back on campus unless they had an invitation from a teacher. If parents get into the mix, have adult conversations with them, and if they try to add to the drama, bring in another adult to help you. It sounds like your head teacher isn't much help, but there may be someone else.

    Again, don't give up! Outlast the foolishness :)
     
  9. chessimprov

    chessimprov Rookie

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    May 23, 2010

    Nothermanda, the teacher can might be moved up with the students depending on the teacher, school, and circumstances. So she may have to move with the students. Not likely as a person in his/her position would probably be smart not to do so if there is a choice.

    I am in a similar state. The teacher previous to me does not seem of be a native of the community there, and I'm guessing she's not certified at the time either.

    Some of my students are so sick to the point that they want to cause disruption just to cause disruption in innumerous inappropriate ways.

    If you can find out about extracurriculars or run one yourself, that may help a little. Try to be available for help and maybe even give students chance(s) to make up work to raise their grades. Ultimately, it's the learning and practice that matter even more than lateness vs. promptness. Try to make some of your lessons more hands-on (it's hard for me, especially with a lack of resources and a hard time with interpretting what is in front of me.)

    When students make negative comments, just respond professionally that a comment is not appropriate or redirect them by just letting them know what they should be focusing on.

    If they ask silly questions like for example- how old are you, you can just give them quick outrageous answers and then move on. I tell them I'm 100-something and that I had received an AARP card in the mail, so I must be at least 50. I look like I'm in my early 20s or even could pass for 17, so they don't believe me. An older experienced teacher took this little tidbit and seems to enjoy this approcah more for continuing the class.

    I hope that helps.
     
  10. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    May 23, 2010

    miss tree, OK, I suppose people can tell you to develop a tougher skin, which is good to do, but it also looks like these kids just don't like either you and/or the way you teach the class, so theythey've made it up in their minds that they just don't like, they're not going to try & that's the end of it.

    If I were you, I'd remind them that every teacher is different & has their own ways of doing things & that they may not like how every teacher does things, but THAT'S LIFE & they need to get in there & try their very best.

    You can try making it more relatable to them by saying that they have different friends for different reasons. Maybe they like one person because they're so funny. Another person, they may like because they can keep a secret, etc.

    Good luck!
     
  11. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    May 23, 2010

    I've been on both sides as a long term sub. I have literally had a student say, "You'll never be ___". And, I've spoken to my replacement in another position where the kids are constantly telling her how much they miss me and dislike her class.

    Both ways, the kids have a somewhat glamorized memory.

    My theory: Many kids in our schools are from divorced homes, making "divorcing" a teacher particularly difficult. It's a loss they deal with sort of like they deal with family splitting up (loyalty issues, resentment, etc). So, just remember their reactions (sometimes flattering, sometimes deflating) are not personal.

    On the other hand, it's late in the school year. They are restless. And, disliking you is a convenient way for some of them to justify bad behavior and blowing off classwork!
     

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