Did I screw up today?

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by Greensleeve, Oct 3, 2008.

  1. Greensleeve

    Greensleeve Rookie

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    Oct 3, 2008

    Hey everyone. First year teacher here:|
    Today when I was writing on the board, some student threw a small piece of paper at my back. I knew that it's not a good idea to make a huge scene, so I just calmly said, without turning around," You know, you missed my head by a lot." I sort of nullified their attempt to derail me, but I ended up invited more papers at me. But I keep my humor and said that I am too fast for them. Overall it was all in good fun, and they eventually stopped (After one hitting me in my face). I know that I didn't lose my cool, but I think I really screwed up there. Do you think students might think I am too easy?
     
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  3. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Oct 3, 2008

    I'm not sure because I don't pretend to know how teenagers think and I wasn't there. I'm sure it could go both ways...they saw you having a sense of humor and was genuinely playing with you or they saw you as easy to pick on. Who knows. Go back in on Monday and find out. :)

    If they try the exact same thing again, you can say something like, "that was funny once, but it isn't now." Explain that some jokes are best only done once. Explain that while you chose to have a sense of humor the first time, it is actually disrespectful and you would like them to stop. If something ELSE happens (more likely), you might have to do a little damage control.
     
  4. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Oct 3, 2008

    If it keeps happening, you can hit those students with papers...detention notices!
     
  5. teacherpippi

    teacherpippi Habitué

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    Oct 3, 2008

    Great advice, cNg!
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 4, 2008

    Absolutely perfect advice, CutnGlue!!
     
  7. KAM

    KAM Rookie

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    Oct 4, 2008

    I totally agree here. Don't give an impression that you will tolerate that type of behavior even if you made light of it the first time.

     
  8. teachin4ever

    teachin4ever Cohort

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    Oct 4, 2008

    I don't think I would have made it into a joke. If a student threw something at me, I would not be happy, and I would certainly let them know that. Perhaps a no homework pass for any student with information on who did it would help you figure out who it was. From there, there would be a detention and I'd be notifying their parents.

    But since you already made it into a joke, I agree with the others in that you should let them know it's not funny anymore and if it continues, you'll be handing out detentions.

    Just my thoughts.
     
  9. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Oct 4, 2008

    I teach 5th graders--- so while I do try to joke around with them (I'm already noticing that many of them are stressed out so I try to be funny to cheer them up a bit), I wouldn't be able to allow them to throw things at me or another student.

    Honestly, the moment I see a paper airplane being formed, I grab it (while I'm continuing to teach) and toss it in the trash. Same with other little things I notice kids playing with--- artwork I do not because that to me is precious, real toys I don't either (they just have to earn it back from me).

    Perhaps in older grades its alright to do it ONCE, as others have said, I would tell them to knock it off after that.

    This just popped into my head, maybe it fits your situation. One year in high school, towards the end of the year, we got a new bus driver. He was really nice, stern when we needed it though, and he really earned our respect. This is why...

    I think alot of us were just exhausted after school was over, plus with the high pressures to perform good enough, it's not easy being a high schooler. John, our bus driver, would notice also us withering under the heat in the school bus (no AC at all), so he would let us have water fights on the bus. ALL of us were okay with getting wet and we knew not to dump water on top of a person's head or face, etc. We knew the rules: BE NICE and have fun. Once he even let us have a mini food fight with animal crackers--- that HE started. (Before anybody says anything about safety, please note: 1. He always paid attention to driving, 2. We knew better than to hurt someone)

    It made us so much happier--- we looked forward to getting through our school day and cooling off on the bus with this little activity. Nobody ever got hurt, but it was a way for us to release some stress and honestly have some good fun. And it made us respect and adore this bus driver--- so much that after 10 years I STILL remember his name and what he looks like.

    Maybe your kids need a little of that too in their lives. Maybe they can't do anything that's a little fun in their other classes. I think as long as they don't do it all the time, they don't hurt anybody, etc it's alright. Kids (because they ARE still kids then and we all know how much growing up stinks) need that in their lives--- at least at school--- because we honestly have no clue what they're going home to.

    I think you handled it fine--- and maybe that's one thing they'll remember about the class in the years to come. Information is not always important--- learning how to still be a kid, have fun, and build relationships will ALWAYS be important :)
     
  10. Greensleeve

    Greensleeve Rookie

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    Oct 5, 2008

    Thank you all for your replies. I can definitely see how the event be seen in two ways by the students. I will definitely draw a line from now on to let them know that I was being funny then, but it's disrespectful and I will hold them responsible.

    And BioAngel, thank you for sharing that little anecdote with me. I know that students can all have a little "kid" time. But I also know that too much can be bad.
     
  11. Beth2004

    Beth2004 Maven

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    Oct 5, 2008

    I definitely wouldn't have made a joke out of the situation. It was extremely disrespectful for the first student to throw a piece of paper at you. They may have gotten a good laugh out of it after you made a joke out of it, but I wouldn't be surprised if they're throwing papers at you again on Monday. You need to make it clear that you were joking with them on Friday, but that throwing things in your classroom will not be tolerated. You may find that it takes a while (and a few detentions) to make them realize that you're serious this time, though.
     
  12. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    Oct 5, 2008

    I think you did the right thing by not losing your cool the first time. But the second time I would have sternly reprimanded them, reminding them that we are here to learn, and we can't have distractions when we have such important business at hand. It's an important distinction to appeal to your duty to educate them rather than the respect that they owe you just for being your teacher. They'll acknowledge the former a lot sooner than the latter.

    Alternately, I might pull the, "How sad that you would make me the butt of your jokes" card -- the sympathy card. But the angry teacher show never wins any awards.

    Above all, remember, it's never too late to say, "Hey, that's ridiculous! I am a person, and you can't treat me that way!" no matter what behavior you let slide at first. New teachers sometimes make the mistake of feeling like they are being inconsistent and then not addressing bad behavior. If you feel like they'll be confused by your mixed message, you can explain that at first you thought it was in fun but now you see that your lesson is being interrupted.

    At the first sign of disruption tomorrow, be sure to respond sternly but confidently. You already know not to lose your cool, so you've got the first step covered. Now you just need to show that today is a new day.

    Good luck tomorrow!
     
  13. SittinInATree

    SittinInATree Companion

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    Oct 9, 2008

    I think yelling at them or turning it into a big deal would have invited more trouble in the future. I think with your age group, that you handled it well. They were testing you, and also being silly, and maybe now they have it out of their system and maybe even think you are cool for playing it off. I hope I am right!
     
  14. SwOcean Gal

    SwOcean Gal Devotee

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    Oct 9, 2008

    Oh boy, I had the same issue today subbing for 8th graders! It is something they do not grow out of by 8th grade. That is for sure. I am getting a lot out of all these replies too- about saying I am a person too, and that it was funny once... Those are keepers! Thanks!
    I did the please respect me spiel
     
  15. dovian

    dovian Comrade

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    Oct 9, 2008

    My favorite line for kids throwing things is "If I wanted to teach kindergarten, I would have taught kindergarten, knock it off!" In general I find that humor works well with the big kids, and that is totally something I would have said. I agree that if they try it again then you should use the "it was funny once" response. Hopefully they were just testing you and they really do know better.
     

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