How to deal with inappropriate comments from students?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Letuseat56, Jun 12, 2019.

  1. Letuseat56

    Letuseat56 New Member

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    Jun 12, 2019

    I’m a recent college grad, 22 years old and will be starting my teaching placement this year. For the last few months I’ve been subbing at a school before I start my training. This school isn’t the best, it’s a rough school with a low pass rate and the majority of kids coming from low income backgrounds. The major problem I’m dealing with is inappropriate comments from the boys. It started off with the ‘your hot’, writing their numbers on the work, looking me up and down in the hallway or when I entered the room. However, it slowly escalated to saying extremely inappropriate things in lessons, female students would tell me some of the disgusting things the boys say in their study periods about me, in lessons they would comment on my body, compare their physiques to my husbands (they would flex their muscles and ask if my husband had muscles as big as theres???), ask me to sit on their laps. Boys would cheer when I entered the room cos that meant I was subbing for them. I’ve stopped subbing at that school because honestly I felt extremely uncomfortable teaching some students there and I felt the school wasn’t dealing with the situation seriously enough. However, in the new term I will be training with a school that is similar to it (pretty rough, not the best grades etc.) I really don’t want to go through the same sort of issue at my training school because at one point the subbing experience put me off teaching (I was on the verge of withdrawing my application at my training school.) I knew that with being really young I would get a few comments but wasn’t expecting anything like this. Is there any advice that someone can give me in dealing with the issue. My response at the last one was going straight to administration but do you think I should be calling out the behaviour more myself?

    Also, is this normal behaviour?? After talking to a few friends who teach they’ve all admitted that they have gone through something like this before. Is this what I should expect as a young teacher?
     
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  3. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Jun 12, 2019

    The best way for a new teacher to deal with these kind of inappropriate issues is to make your expectations and consequences very strong right from the get go. If a disgusted look and an "excuse me?!" doesn't work, get rid of the student. And the first time you kick a student out, make sure your administration (and your students) are aware that you will not deal with those kinds of situations. If you show a very strong front and prove that you expect to be treated respectfully, that will go a long way. Don't be afraid to stand up to administration respectfully.
     
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  4. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Jun 12, 2019

    Maybe start subbing at higher-end schools?
     
  5. Letuseat56

    Letuseat56 New Member

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    Jun 13, 2019

    Unfortunately because I’m not qualified yet I’m not in a position where I can pick and choose schools. Also the majority of schools in my area aren’t the best so it’s likely I will teach in more rough ones.
     
  6. Letuseat56

    Letuseat56 New Member

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    Thanks for the advice. Will definitely take it on board, especially standing up to administration when I feel that they aren’t dealing with it seriously enough
     
  7. Pisces

    Pisces Rookie

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    Jun 19, 2019

    Not true. There are plenty of first year teachers who work in good school districts to begin. Not everyone starts at a rough school.
     
    Michelle likes this.
  8. Mr.history

    Mr.history Cohort

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    Jun 19, 2019

    I'm a dude, so I haven't faced this issue but I do have some advice that could help. First the thing I wish I had known more my first few years teaching is how effective a phone call home can be. I taught in a very rough school my first four years teaching and even then I could call home and the parents would still want to help deal with behavior issues. I'm not sure if I was nervous about the calls themselves or what but I realize now that I could have made my life way easier had I just made a few phone calls.

    Second is professionalism/dress. Make sure you are always dressed "older". I wear a shirt and tie everyday. I'm 30 now but when I started I was your age and I had a baby face. The kids didn't really know how to take me when I was only 4 years older than them (seniors). By dressing more professionally it helped me separate myself from them and they saw me as an authority figure. I also developed a completely different demeanor in the classroom. At home I'm laid back and kind of goofy. At school I try to be more stern and direct so that the students know I'm serious about what I expect.
     
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  9. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Jun 19, 2019

    Dress professionally. Behave professionally. Set high expectations & stick to them. Have consequences for not following expectations.

    Just because you are at a low-income school doesn’t make it rough, necessarily. My low-income school isn’t rough at all. Some would argue that upper-income schools with super-involved parents are rougher in many ways.
     
    SpecialPreskoo likes this.
  10. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Jun 19, 2019

    Sexual harassment is never okay and can never be allowed to let slide. Let the students clearly know that their actions and comments are inappropriate, document and inform admin. You should never be expected to tolerate harassment in your workplace.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
  11. Lisabobisa

    Lisabobisa Companion

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    Jun 20, 2019

    I have been there... young, pretty teacher in a classroom primarily of teenage boys. I dressed and acted professionally all the time. Any comment gets shut down immediately. A simple but firm "Not appropriate" usually did the trick (this also includes any comments made by the girls letting you know what they have been saying). I NEVER talked about my personal life, and rarely let them talk about theirs. Once they knew my expectations and that I will not tolerate it, they recognized me as a female authority figure and the comments stop. They'd even stop other students from making comments around me about any female.

    This behavior may be a byproduct of our culture but that doesn't mean we have to accept it.
     
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  12. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Jun 21, 2019

    Have you brought it up to the administration?

    There might be ways to deal with it beyond just yourself. If an admin or security officer sat in your class for a bit, I'd imagine they might stop commenting. Of course they might start again as soon as they were out of the room, but there would be the threat of bringing them back whenever you told them to stop commenting.
     
  13. fallenshadow

    fallenshadow Rookie

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    Jun 26, 2019

    Ignore it. Don't even acknowledge it with a reply.
     
  14. metooedu

    metooedu New Member

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    Sep 18, 2019

    I'm really disturbed by some of the comments here telling you to change the way you dress. This is not your fault. It is NEVER OK to sexually harass someone in ANY CONTEXT. It is abuse and designed to intimidate and scare you. The only thing wrong in this picture is the boys' attitudes toward women. I feel sorry for those boys, the men here who told you to change your dress, and the women who are or will be partnered to them.

    I would not suggest going to SLT to complain about this until you get advice. In my experience, going to SLT can make things worse (at least if you do it without preparing first). If you follow me and we can direct message each other I will send you some resources. I can't post any links directly here because of Site Admin rules.
     
  15. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Sep 18, 2019

    In my opinion inappropriate comments fall into 2 categories.
    1. they are made for shock effect and for seeking attention are often best to ignore (and then they stop usually)
    2. they must be handled on the spot and inform the student that it will not be tolerated

    Sexual based comments fall into the 2nd category. If you ignore the small stuff, they will become big stuff. So a student writing his phone number on the work might seem like no big deal, it's best to pull the student aside and let him know that it's not ok.
    If the comments get bigger or worse, there must be more serious, with consequences.

    I had worked in juvenile detention for 3 years (and still do during the summer), and during those 3 years the students were all boys, usually locked up long term, often 6-12 months.
    I always made sure I was very covered, I did wear skirts and dresses (knee length or longer) with a cardigan, and I never really had a problem. If there was an issue, I made it very clear that this was a first and final warning and would be written up as sexual harassment with serious consequences. Overall, I never really had issues.
    At this school some students tried some comments, if they were mild I educated them on how and why it was inappropriate (some of them didn't realize, because they could say those things to their female peers so they thought it was ok to say to me), but I did write up one boy and I'm sure the whole school knew about it, and the students learned not to mess with me like that (the student got locked up)

    So by handling it firmly not only will you put a stop to it, bit also send a message to others.
     
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  16. MntnHiker

    MntnHiker Rookie

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    Sep 20, 2019

    This is not your fault. I don't care what you were wearing. Sure, we should all dress appropriately for our work environment, but I'm sure you were. I shouldn't have to wear long skirts or cover myself in sweaters to avoid sexual harassment. We can wear sleeveless tops and dresses at my school. And I do. And I would absolutely not stand for these comments and it has absolutely no basis in what I'm wearing. Men and boys need to learn you don't speak to women like that and it's not OK.

    This is something I would absolutely go to administration with and have when one of my previous student teachers was getting some sexual comments from male students. When the comment happens,I would immediately shut it down sternly and let them know that it's sexual harassment and absolutely never OK. Depending on the situation, I might even send them to the office right then and there. I would tell administration what was going on and also get the parents involved. Now is the time to nip behavior like this swiftly in the bud and you deserve to have a harassment-free work environment.
     
  17. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    @TeacherGroupie

    I keep seeing this post about the teacher tutoring app. The post directly above mine.
     
  18. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Oct 29, 2019

    It's dealt with.
     
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