How do you "get the power back"?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by sk8enscars311, Nov 17, 2008.

  1. sk8enscars311

    sk8enscars311 Companion

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    Nov 17, 2008

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    I've been whining on here for a couple weeks now about my husband's situation at a DC middle school. I guess it would help to know more from my other posts but you don't necessarily need to.

    He FINALLY had the opportunity to bring up his discipline issues at a staff meeting. First, he asked them about pressing charges because he's had three "opportunities" to do so in the last 2 weeks. The teachers... principal included... looked at him in shock. They've never had to press charges and obviously they had no idea what he's been going through. Anyway, the conversation basically ended with the P and VP telling him that somewhere along the way he lost his power over the class. My husband said "Honestly I don't think I ever had it to begin with." The class was dropped into his lap unexpectedly one day, 7 weeks into school. Obviously he can't get through the quarter by having someone intimidating down there everyday with him. (Btw, my husband is a big guy...) He asked them how he was supposed to get his power back and they pretty much just told him it was something he'd have to figure out. They weren't being mean or anything. They know what he's going through.

    What gets me though is somehow they think he can do that alone. The only "power" he has is to kick them out or write them up and it's the administration who does nothing with it... therefore taking the power from my husband. He did not "lose" his power... they took it from him by not punishing students for the first referral. He now has a student with 7 referrals and the kid has been in school everyday. I'm not talking about things like, the kid was talking or chewing gum. This kid talks loudly the entire time, cusses my husband out when reprimanded, refuses to leave when kicked out, throws things and pretty much does whatever he pleases. Parent phone calls do nothing because most of the parents give bad numbers so they won't be bothered by the school.

    Any suggestions on how he can get this power back? Thanks!
     
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  3. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Nov 17, 2008

    Maybe it'll take actually pressing charges and having the kid taken out while that particular class is in session. Tape recording the class and playing it for P while asking for suggestion might also be a plan.
     
  4. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Nov 17, 2008

    Is there a resource officer assigned to the school? Ours will take kids out in handcuffs if they are extremely off the wall, and yes, I teach at an elementary school. We've had a few doozies.
     
  5. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    Nov 17, 2008

    It's tough to suddenly gain it back. If it was me, I would be an absolute stickler on everything that goes on in the class. Firm, fair, and consistent discipline, combined with bell-to-bell activities to keep the kids busy so they're not causing trouble. And constant accountability (regular quizzes, homework checks, etc.)
     
  6. sk8enscars311

    sk8enscars311 Companion

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    Nov 18, 2008

    His kids crumble up and throw anything he gives them. They will not leave when he kicks them out and security rarely comes when he calls for them.
     
  7. Teaching Grace

    Teaching Grace Connoisseur

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    Nov 18, 2008

    Tape record and call the police. Yes, I'm mean.. but I've had a rough day wit my fellow teachers.
     
  8. Sheba

    Sheba Companion

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    Nov 18, 2008

    That situation sounds beyond outrageous. I don't know what your financial situation is but I really think that continuing on in such an environment is an irresponsible thing to do. School district officials should find out the hard way that no one will teach that class and that they need to take drastic measures.

    (Thanks though, for making me feel so much better about being upset the other day by a student throwing an eraser across the room to another student three desks over instead of handing it down the row.)
     
  9. ELA 11 12

    ELA 11 12 Companion

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    Nov 18, 2008

    R E S P E C T

    I have one rule in my class and that is "No put downs." I call the students out on that rule only. Once students feel safe, your husband will be able to guide the class rather than rule it. It's tough and takes practice. I taught at-risk youth for three years before moving into a "safe" teaching position. Once I learned how to manage and not control I had very little or no issues. I had the luxury of a supportive administration...

    Again, it's tough and takes practice. But I loved the challenge. If he likes the challenge, the situation will resolve itself. Though your post sounds "shady" that the administration pointed fingers instead of offering suggestions about how to work with the students.

    If they will allow professional development, I had good luck with BER seminars for dealing with at-risk and difficult students as well as reading up on Glasser's "Reality Choice Therapy".

    Should he find a way to connect, he will find himself in one of the most rewarding positions a teacher can experience. Without a knowledgeable and supportive administration consider the concept that "The first three years are the toughest" then add a couple more to figure out how to teach and motivate that population well.

    One more technique I use id saying, "We don't do that here." When questioned, "Why not?" I respond, "Because we don't" then move on to the lesson at hand. I do not continue the argument and slowly (not immediately) the class accepts that as the way things are done.

    I hope this helps!
     
  10. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    I really agree that it's probably time to leave. I'd tell the admin that they either find someone else for this class, or I'm outta here. I'd rather work three jobs than put up with that.
     
  11. sk8enscars311

    sk8enscars311 Companion

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    Nov 19, 2008

    Thanks for advice so far. He's tried so many things. Everybody he goes to for help just opens their eyes wide, gives him some one-liner and walks away probably thinking "glad it's not MY problem." He wants to teach them so bad. He wants to connect with them so bad. But some of them are just plain out middle-school-bully MEAN to him! When they and the other kids see that no consequences follow their actions, why should they cooperate? They spend all day in "academic" subjects where the teachers at least have some leverage. Who cares about the music class that they will be rid of in January? It's play time for them. The school's just messed up.

    As for quitting... I wish! There was a point recently where we were job hunting like crazy. We simply cannot afford to not be working right now. Especially because if he leaves his job I will have to leave mine. We commute 1 1/2 hours every morning together. If something drastic happens (heaven forbid) he'll walk out but unfortunately we have to just hope that nothing does.
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 19, 2008

    Is there any way he can hook into the music they like?
     
  13. sk8enscars311

    sk8enscars311 Companion

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    Believe it or not, that makes everything worse. Even at my somewhat calm school... as soon as I play anything familiar they all sing or scream along at the top of their lungs, beat and pound on the chairs and get up out of their seats and it takes another 15 minutes get them back into some kind of order. Even though they are technically "engaged" there is still no learning going on.

    I feel awful even asking for advice on here. I don't want people think that all I want to do is shoot down suggestions and start every sentence with "yeah, but". Everything suggested so far has either already been tried or is not an option for some reason or another.

    Thanks for responding though! I guess the point I was really trying to get at was the administration's failure to support the teachers and follow through with consequences.
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 19, 2008

    No, don't feel bad about that at all! We're all just adding in our own 2 cents; you have the real feel for what does and doesn't work in your school.


    I never say this, but I think it's time to call it a day. Work in McDonalds if you have to, but no job is worth the kind of stress you've described.
     
  15. ELA 11 12

    ELA 11 12 Companion

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    Nov 19, 2008

    "Yeah buts" make this complicated situation clearer for us. Hey, has he just played an instrument all period? Just jam out at what he does best? Ignore the bad behavior (unless someone is doing damage to something or someone). Has he done that for several days in a row? There has to be one or two students who will jam with him. Then forget about the rest, again unless physical damage is being done--emotional damage counts too, I am not a fan of bullies.

    I really want to see resolution to this, probably not as much as you two, but none-the-less...

    If you do leave, rural areas can be pretty sweet, if you don't mind the smell of agriculture and driving a 1/2 hour or more in no traffic to cultural events.
     
  16. sk8enscars311

    sk8enscars311 Companion

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    Nov 19, 2008

    He actually did jam one day. He's very talented with playing by ear so was able to play a few songs that they like. He actually had a good time with them. Then again, half of the students were gone for some kind of testing. He tried it the next day... had a whole great lesson planned out and the class was a disaster. All the students were back and the commotion began instantly. On these days no amount of playing interests them. We're actually looking for patterns between different combinations of absences. So far nothing has popped up. We watch the videos... I see firsthand the things he's talking about. The second he turns his back, no matter what he's doing, at least 10 things go flying through the air. He has to clean his room everyday after this class... sunflower seed shells everywhere, lotion/crazyglue/etc smeared on chairs. Watching the video you can see how he'd miss these things. The kids cover for each other no matter how much they hate each other. They will create diversions so that another student can steal the discipline log.

    The administration is so incompetent. As people, they're wonderful. But they focus on the wrong things. He told the VP who is his immediate supervisor that a student acted like he was shooting him in the face while saying "pop pop". The VP said "Well Mr. _____!!!! You have to write that up!!!" My husband, trying not to shout back said "I DID! I PUT IT IN YOUR MAILBOX LAST FRIDAY!!!" The other VP only knows how to say "Well, Mr. ______ You can't let them do that!" Well duh. The principal is only "in charge" of 6th grade students so any questions he has about this 8th grade class, she refers him back to the first VP who has referrals scattered all over his desk.

    It's a shame that this job is lousy only because of the adults. I have a very intense class myself but I am able to go in and feel okay about it because I have 4 staff members/counselors ready to come to my room to pull students, call their parents or take them to the office. I"m seeing this year more than ever the power of people pulling together to solve a problem. My husband has no support.

    We have taken a somewhat drastic step involving going higher up. That's about all I want to say right now until I know more. We're in a system that will get rid of people for bringing attention to the problems in the schools. The "chancellor" is pushing to declare the schools in a state of emergency so that she can get rid of the union. This is all because the union will not sign a contract that would pay teachers big bucks for high test scores and fire both tenured or non-tenured teachers who do not show test improvements.

    There are a thousand and one reasons we are ready to get out of here. Thanks for your concern.
     
  17. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I don't pray often, but for you and yours, I definitely do. :hugs:
     
  18. sk8enscars311

    sk8enscars311 Companion

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    Thanks catnfiddle. We do too!
     
  19. sk8enscars311

    sk8enscars311 Companion

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    Update (long.......)

    Here's an interesting, and somewhat hopeful, new development. We're starting to think the VP has it in for my husband. He won't offer him any real help (he's his direct supervisor) but also tells him that the student's behavior will be reflected in his observation.

    So VP tells my husband that he will observe him this Friday during the 8th grade class that he has all these problems with. (Strangely enough, he didn't want to see band, which was what they hired hubby to do...) Well, we decided we wanted to take this Friday off because my sister had a baby and we want to go visit her in GA. He asked VP to move the observation to THursday (today) and VP agreed and continued to confirm as this week went on.

    So today, the 8th grade class comes down and VP is nowhere to be found. Hubby sent a student out to find him. The message was "He'll be down soon." Meanwhile, he has 2 bullies shredding another student's homework, 2 others breaking open an ink pen and dumping the ink on the floor and of course all the other normal stuff. No security, no help.... and no VP. Finally class ended. My husband said it has become a ritual for him to toss a few desk chairs once the students have left... just to get some anger out. The principal showed up at his door (very nice lady) and asked him what was going on. He was quite upset so she took him up to her office to talk. She listened for a long time while he got all of it out... the frustration with the kids and no help and the VP skipping out on the observation. She told him not to worry about the observation... they could reschedule. For the kids, she wants him to choose 5 or 6 of the worst, document religiously for a solid week and use that for getting them permanently removed from his class. Yay! so far.

    There's still more though. Hubby had to get progress report grades in by tomorrow night so he stayed after to get them done today. Left around 4:45.... passed the P, who said "have a nice weekend!" (important!) We're on the interstate beginning our 10 hour journey when hubby gets a call from his school. VP said he didn't have his grades in. Hubby said yes he did.. even double checked it. VP says, we'll check it out tomorrow. Hubby says I took off tomorrow. Like a jerk, VP says "Your grades are not finished and you have your observation tomorrow... so this leave is not approved." My hubby didn't know what to say besides "Mr. ______ We're on the interstate headed to GA."

    Well, obviously this is upsetting. Now we're starting to either think discrimination or just plain out mean. We never want to play the race card but my husband is one of few white people in the school and is treated unfairly in more than one way. If the situation where reversed it would be a blatant case of racial discrimination.

    Thankfully we have a wireless internet card so we emailed P right away to double check... and thankfully her response was "You're okay... relax... be safe... See you Monday." So now things are feeling okay, which is perfect because I can't wait to see my new niece! Time to not think about school for a while.
     
  20. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    Nov 21, 2008

    So did the P see him toss chairs? I'm glad that latest drama is behind you. Enjoy the time off.
     
  21. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I'm SO glad your husband has an ally in his principal. He should start documenting his problems with VP as well.
     
  22. Happy Chatter

    Happy Chatter Rookie

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    Nov 21, 2008

    Getting power is a mind set, kids know who they can push around mentally and who they can't.
    I was roped into a class that was deemed "out of control" and within 3 days I had them toeing the line. I was implementing exactly the same rules , organisation etc as the teacher on sick leave.....the only difference is I walked into that class day 1 and said to myself I am taking nothing from these kids.....they saw it in my face heard it in my voice and saw it in my posture....I wasnt mean to them and I taught some good lessons in that class......power is a mind set you have to believe in your self...



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