High school students and blackmail?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by pinkcupcake90, Dec 19, 2015.

  1. pinkcupcake90

    pinkcupcake90 Companion

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    Dec 19, 2015

    I have a few high schoolers that despise me. I hear them talking about me all the time for being a Muslim teacher. I cover my hair, and they find it hilarious. One of my students is mad at me because I called home and almost suspended him for disruptive behavior in my classroom.

    I'm worried because these students are on drugs. I've heard from many other teachers that they are trouble. I'm scared if they will try to blackmail me. I'm so scared of losing my job. I have nothing to hide: I'm a straight-edge Muslim girl who loves kids and has a clean record. I'm just scared because I don't know what these kinds of children are capable of.

    Any advice for me?
     
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  3. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Dec 19, 2015

    If you don't do anything wrong, what could they blackmail you for? That seems an oddly specific fear. Have you heard of them lying about other teachers before? Just make sure you're never alone with those students and stay consistent with your actions. Teenagers are 95% talk.
     
  4. pinkcupcake90

    pinkcupcake90 Companion

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    You're right, but I'm just terrified of losing this job. It's everything to me. The teacher I replaced was a sex offender who was fired. I have big shoes to fill and I'm crying myself to sleep every night because this job is so hard and I love it and I'm afraid to lose it.
     
  5. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 20, 2015

    Pink. I'm worried for you. I do think it's time to reach out in your district for some help. Do you have a mentor or trusted colleague who can help you better navigate through these struggles? Going into some master teachers' classrooms and observing how they manage these same students could also be eye -opening.
     
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  6. pinkcupcake90

    pinkcupcake90 Companion

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    I do have a mentor. I think I'm going to meet with her tomorrow.
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Dec 20, 2015

    They can't blackmail you if you don't do anything wrong. I feel however that you are stressed out and worry too much and you're bound to make mistakes.
    I would suggest these:
    - have a clear classroom management plan, with specific steps that you consistently follow. For example, 1st verbal warning, next seat change, next whatever consequence are assigned (detention with phone call, or referral, etc). Don't give too many chances, "3 strikes you're out" should be the most.
    - make sure you have reasonable rules and they're communicated. What are the non-negotiables? Do you allow students to get out of their seats without permission? Some teachers do, some don't. Talking without raising their hands? etc. What are the consequences for profanity or disrespect directed towards you? (it shouldn't be 2-3 warnings, it's an immediate offense)
    - as someone else suggested, don't ever be alone with a student, not even with a female.
    - watch what you say. Leave sarcasm and joking out, be strict, serious and business like. You can build relationships and be warm and kind later, at this point strict is what you're striving for.
    - do not lose your temper. Do not raise your voice. Do not let them see if you're frustrated. Be fair and reasonable.
    - be consistent. Handle the little problems early. For example at my school no headgear is allowed and hoods must be off the students' heads. It sound like a little issue, but once they start defying that, they see that they can get away with small things and then it goes into bigger problems so we come down on it hard.
    - it can get worse before it gets better but don't give up

    And finally... about being Muslim. Unfortunately it's a very hard time in this country, due to a lot of racists' and bigots' hatred. I feel very bad.
    Try not to take anything personal if a student says anything dumb or mean about that. If you show that it hurts your feelings (how wouldn't it?), they will probably keep it up, because they now found a weak spot. You probably can't ignore everything, and you should say certain things such as "that is inappropriate" or disrespectful, or very inaccurate, etc, but don't make it to be anything more. If anyone makes a threat or says something more serious (such as something that would constitute bullying) you should take it higher and assign a consequence.
    And definitely reach out to other veteran teachers, a mentor or admin you can trust.

    It will get better, don't worry yourself too much.
     
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  8. pinkcupcake90

    pinkcupcake90 Companion

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    Dec 20, 2015


    You're so sweet. Thank you so much. I guess it doesn't help that I suffer from an anxiety disorder. I'm always worried about something.
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Do you have that under control? Is it time to visit your doctor and discuss some different options?
     
  10. pinkcupcake90

    pinkcupcake90 Companion

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    Yes, I'm taking prescribed medications and seeing a doctor once a week. I had a traumatic childhood, and anxiety runs in my family, so I have it too.
     
  11. Puppet Debris

    Puppet Debris Rookie

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    Dec 26, 2015

    Maybe it is like this: If you act perfect, people will tend to treat you badly - maybe because they are sure you are a hypocrite, maybe because compared to you they see themselves, their families, friends, etc. as “honest, confessing sinners” better than you. That has been made a big deal these days. So you will think about yourself and realize you are not perfect and you will focus on the small faults in your life, magnify them in your mind. Eventually you realize you are not that bad after all. You may have expressed this.

    If this is the situation, maybe its resolution will allow you to have normal personal interactions and use logical consequences with your students.
     
  12. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Dec 26, 2015

    I disagree with this, pretty much all of this. There is nothing wrong with acting perfect. Acting perfect as a teacher in my mind the teacher is 100 % consistent, the consequences are always reasonable, logical and fair, she treats everyone equally, and never makes mistakes. I hope I get to be like that one day :)
    I think what you're talking about is acting better than everyone else.
    I really don't think that's what the OP is doing, why place any blame on her?

    I think what's going n is that she's a new teacher, not having as much self confidence as she will in 3-5 years and of course she is not perfect, probably makes mistakes, as many of us have or are still doing.
    The kids are just trying to see how they can get to her, what can keep her going and resist things she's trying to do. I've been there when I first got this job. It wasn't easy.
     
  13. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Dec 26, 2015

    Try not to let your fear of them show. That's likely to make them walk all over you even more. I sometimes psyche myself up in the morning. I remind myself that 'I' am the adult in the classroom. They're 'just' kids. They may do all that they can to get me riled up, but I'm the adult and I am the professional. They can get as mad as they want, and resent me for holding them accountable to the rules, but I'm not going to let it affect me.

    I do a lot of this discussion with myself in the morning to get myself prepared. Sometimes it's more specific or about general areas, but it really helps me face each class with a calm, smiling demeanor. If they do try to get under my skin, I see it more like "oh, those kids :roll:" and give them a consequence if they need it.

    If you've done nothing wrong, there's no teeth behind any blackmailing that may happen. If you have a good relationship with your admin or at least explain yourself calmly if false accusations do happen more likely than not, the admin will more likely believe you. I was accused of 'pushing' a student. It was a ridiculous accusation because the entire class was present, and everyone witnessed that I didn't lay a hand on him. Realizing that their claims are ridiculous and simply calmly explaining your side of the story will almost always be enough.

    As others have said, never be alone in the room with a single student, male or female. If a student threatens to blackmail you, just tell them, 'Go ahead. I'll let the principal know what you said and what your accusations are.' Always inform the admin if a student ever threatens you with blackmail or false accusations. Document everything about students who you feel are likely to do so. They can't argue with hard evidence.
     
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  14. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Dec 28, 2015

    I have had anxiety issues since I was 12 due to a bacterial infection that effected my brain. When I was teaching (I'm currently recovering from cancer with hopes of returning soon! :rolleyes:) I would follow the following procedures which helped tremendously. I'd go to bed early start early so that I was not rushed. I'd eat breakfast. Driving to school, I allowed my anxieties to rush through my mind, but just notice them, attempting not to act on them. At school, anxiety time was over. I was at school before the students, and I relaxed with my favorite classical music radio station. During school, I focused on the tasks at hand, but after school, if I was under any stress, I came home and got it out of my system when I was able to think through any stress more logically. Then in the evening I would meditate (personally for me, that would include prayer and Scripture verses I've memorized). Again, I'd play music in the evening, at that time usually jazz (like Bing Crosby or the Mills Brothers). I'd try to transform worry about what could happen into observation of what could happen, and then realization of what is really happening. At the same time, I've learned not to feel guilty if worry overshadows my attempts at thinking realistically--it happens to everyone.
     
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  15. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

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    Dec 29, 2015

    "I think what you're talking about is acting better than everyone else. I really don't think that's what the OP is doing, why place any blame on her?" From what the OP has shared, by NO means does it sound like she is acting better than everyone else. If anything, she is highly respectful of others. She doesn't deserve to be treated with disrespect from anyone.

    Most of the students in the OP's classrooms are just making up any idiotic excuses to be disrespectful. When I taught students with a long history of failing grades, defiant/violent behavior and troubled homes, I made it clear that there was no excuse whatsoever for disrespecting an adult. At this same school, I also emphasized this to troubled students that I worked with as a school counseling credential fieldwork assignment.

    For the OP and other teachers who are teaching unusually difficult students, I recommend that you document the incidents involving each student who refuses to comply with classroom and school rules. If you refer anyone to the principal, dean, counselor, etc., make a note of the action that this educator took, including a note if this educator refused to take disciplinary action against the student. Make a note of each parent you contacted, including the instances when the parent didn't return the call. This documentation will be proof that you intervened appropriately in case if a student or parent ever tries to lie his/her way out of it by claiming that you actually allow inappropriate behavior to occur in the classroom. Yes, some are this dishonest and troubled.

    As a last resort, I would see if the students who refuse to follow the rules can be placed on independent study for your subject if your school has this option.
     
  16. Merc

    Merc Rookie

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    Jan 1, 2016

    I work with high school students who were extreme behavior problems in their old schools. They don't reach me until they've exhausted all their options at their other schools. Its extremely important to build positive relationships with these types of students. Often they are testing boundaries and seeing what they can get away with. If you are not firm with your boundaries, they will not stop testing you.

    Leverage the relationships these students have with other teachers or coaches. Ask them directly about their comments regarding your faith. You'll be surprised how often comments stem from genuine confusion. I am the only Asian person most of my students have ever interacted with. I spend a lot of time engaging and correcting their misconceptions of what being Asian actually means (most equate Asia with China and nothing else). It's part of our jobs. I suggest reading up of restorative justice techniques. They can be very powerful if used correctly.

    Also, when a student tells me they're angry about a phone call home, I remind them I do it out of love. Then I tell them I already have another call scheduled for a future date and that they should get used to me calling home. I always call home with good news too. Make it a habit, they will get used to it.
     
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