How to manage disrespectful students?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by DreamerSeeker, Apr 25, 2019.

  1. DreamerSeeker

    DreamerSeeker Rookie

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    Apr 25, 2019

    This may be a dumb question, but I need some help.

    Little side note: I am a young female (25 yrs old) and recently started student teaching at a high school. My CT as well as the whole school lets the kids rule the roost in ways that they are allowed to use their phones, eat/drink, and my CT doesn't care if they put their head down and sleep all class period. These kids even have a habit of dropping the f-bomb and CT rarely cares.

    The problem I'm having: is that I am a small female. These students are larger than I am. I'm not intimidating at all and they know it. If I tell them to do their work, they just sit around, talk, and totally ignore me. Some students give me attitude, and straight up refuse to participate. If I raise my voice sternly and tell them they will get a zero if they just sit there, they don't care in the least bit. I've witnessed one student give my CT some attitude and CT just asked the student to leave the room. The student refused to leave and just stayed in class being a nuisance. I'm worried about how I should handle such a situation.

    By law, I cannot touch a student, not even a tap on the shoulder, and I can't just take their phone out of their hands if they refuse to put it down and work....

    What should I do?
     
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  3. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Apr 25, 2019

    Make sure you are very careful when looking for a job. Make sure you know the school culture and tolerances. Some of what you describe isn't right, but if the school has condoned it all year, you are not going to be able to change things drastically in your limited time there. Take a good look around and see, for yourself, if this is school culture or the failings of your CT. You can change neither, but it might help if you knew it was school-wide or limited to your classroom. I would be very careful trying to implement any huge rule changes this close to the end of the year without your CT's support, which I am guessing you won't get in any meaningful way. The term lip service comes to mind. I suggest contacting your supervising teacher from your college, not to tattle, but to get some feedback. It might save your sanity.

    When you are at the helm, I would suggest as innovative and engaging lessons as possible. What you are seeing could be boredom. Bore someone long enough and it will look very much like what you are describing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
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  4. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Apr 25, 2019

    As a student teacher your job is a lot harder than a regular teacher, somehow the students know that you're not a 'real' teacher (in their mind).
    So a lot of things will be harder. What makes it even harder is that the school allowed a certain level of disrespect and misbehavior. and what makes it even harder is that even your teacher cannot seem to handle certain situations (if a student is asked to leave the room, he can't just refuse and stay. There should be a protocol where someone is called to remove the student)

    However, in general, there are a few things you can do, at least in the future, but maybe it's not too late.
    - you being young and a small size female shouldn't matter. We have a TA who is only 24 (has been working here since she was 21), and she looks more like a student, an 18 year old. In fact she used to be our student. She has no problem getting the students listen to her and respect her. I have seen all ages, sizes and genders getting respect or not. It depends on your personality.
    - you might have heard this a 100 times but building relationship with the kids goes a long way. You don't need them like you, but if they know that you genuinely care, they will show you more respect and are more likely to do what you ask. This takes time, but it starts with talking to them, asking questions, being interested in who they are, being polite in all situations, being fair and reasonable.
    - always make your rules clear and consistently enforce them.
    - never show them you're upset or that they got to you in any way.

    Maybe you have some time implement some of these and make your job at least a little easier.
     
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  5. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Apr 25, 2019

    Size doesn’t matter. I’ve seen kids toe the line for a tiny female teacher and nearly carry a 6’5”+ male out of the building. Relationship-building and procedures/enforcement will be what determines your success or failure. (Throw admin support in there, too.)
     
  6. DinoTeach

    DinoTeach Rookie

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    Apr 25, 2019

    It's is a lot harder as a student teacher because, as a previous poster said, students don't view you as the final authority in the room. It's the same reason paras have trouble getting respect.

    Everyone who has said, "Build relationships" has a point, but most first year teachers I've worked with read that as, "Don't ever enforce a consequence," which is a terrible idea. The key to good classroom management is threefold: 1) Structure from the get-go. The very first thing I do on the first day of school is assign a seating chart. I also go over my classroom rules on the first day. Many teachers would disagree with this approach, but I find it works to immediately set the tone most conducive to learning, 2) An interesting lesson with clearly outlined expectations and seamless transitions (this takes practice), and 3) Actually enforcing consequences. Talking-to's do not result in changed behavior. You will have to actually write a detention or hold a student back from passing period or whatever consequence you deem appropriate. I write more detentions first quarter than I do the other three quarters combined. Once students figure out you're for real, classroom management will be a breeze.

    None of this means you need to be cruel or harsh or not smile until Christmas. Be your pleasant, happy, relationship-building self, but follow through on real, effective consequences every time.
     
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  7. MrTempest

    MrTempest Companion

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    May 3, 2019

    You are more intimidating than you realize as an adult. The thing is you don't believe it and they know it.
     
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  8. zmp2018

    zmp2018 Rookie

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    May 3, 2019

    One of the biggest and most important things I learned in my methods courses and student-teaching placement is to never threaten to enforce a consequence that you will not enforce. You have to talk the talk and walk the walk. If the students do something and realize you do not enforce the consequence, they take note of that and realize they can control you.

    Student teaching was hard for me at the start because the students saw my mentor as the final authority on everything. I am a larger male, so I think I won them over with that aspect of my being, but I also took time to find ways to build a rapport with them. Outside of class, I would talk about their interests and show a genuine care for what they like to do. Inside of class, I would joke with them and reinforce positive behaviors. When a student acted out, I enforced consequences, and that told the rest of them I meant business.

    It took a few weeks and maybe even a month for them to come to terms that I am a teacher, too. Sure, I didn't have the experience my mentor did, but I was still an authority figure. As time went on, they wanted me to teach them, and they respected me. I also had a little advantage, as well, because I student-taught in the fall, so my mentor and I were in the same boat of getting to know the kids. I could see it being a little more challenging if I student-taught in the spring.
     
  9. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    May 4, 2019

    The most intimidating teacher I know stood 4'11". She was consistent, fair, and refused to argue with the kids. She was the boss and owned it. Respect should have nothing to do with physical size.

    Unfortunately, the school culture seems bad and you don't have a great model in your CT. I wish I could advise you on that, but I guess ride out the semester.
     
  10. Guitart

    Guitart Companion

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    May 4, 2019

    I agree, this is a cultural issue and you cannot change this alone or overnight. In the future, if you get an opportunity to sub, you can experience the cultural differences in buildings, districts, and communities. I subbed in a huge district that had a wide variety of these cultural behaviors. One of the schools was in a rural area. The students there were 10x more respectful and behaved than the inner city students. When there was an opening in that building, teachers with seniority would bid for transfer there. I heard some teachers in the district refer to that building as "the retirement home".
     
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