I almost choked a child today...

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Teacher_Lyn, May 19, 2009.

  1. Teacher_Lyn

    Teacher_Lyn Companion

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    May 19, 2009

    Oh my God, I don't know what happened to me. This is my second year teaching and I have NEVER had the desire to reach out and hurt a child. But today, something inside me snapped. I'm the adult here. I am a teacher. I am better than this.

    "Johnny" wouldn't stop knocking into other kids, yelling, screaming and acting like he'd lost his complete mind. I kept telling him to stop but he wouldn't. So I got real close to him and in a stern voice told him to straighten up. He started laughing, giggling and I felt my temper rising. I began to yell at him and stand over him but he kept laughing and laughing.

    I reached out with the intent of taking his hand and removing him from my line, but my hand first went to his neck and I almost grabbed him there. Then I caught myself. I immediately told another child to walk him to the office because I scared myself.

    What the He-- is wrong with me?! How could I have let myself get that angry? My entire class has been out of control since the beginning of the school year. Day in day out, they don't listen to me. They make so much noise in the hall other teachers have to talk to them.

    Maybe teaching isn't for me. i don't know anymore. I am so upset with myself.

    The child just returned from the office and I told him to stay outside my classroom in a chair for a few moments (that's how we do timeout at my school) because I scared myself so much. :(
     
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  3. ryhoyarbie

    ryhoyarbie Comrade

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    May 19, 2009

    Could be you have a crazy class with insane kids than the other teachers who just love to see their teacher's blood boil.

    I'd probably ask other teachers you know really well and respect you if you should do things differently, if it's you, or perhaps that you just have a crazy class. I'd also ask the principal for some advice.
     
  4. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    May 19, 2009

    It could be the class, end of the year craziness, and you feeling overwhelmed by their behavior. The good thing is you caught yourself and realize it was a mistake. I'm sure you are a great teacher and just had a scary moment. :hugs:
     
  5. Teacher_Lyn

    Teacher_Lyn Companion

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    May 19, 2009

    thanks guys, but how do you deal with a child that laughs in your face when you reprimand them>
     
  6. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    May 19, 2009

    I'm sure that we all have had moments like this. Lucky you realized what you were about to do and stopped. Many times when we get that angry, its hard to control our actions. As far as what to do with the child, it sounds like he's trying to get you riled up. I would start out by giving him choices. When he starts to do something against the rules, let him make the choice of what he wants to do (making sure that either choice would be okay with you and works for him as well). Reward him immediately when he makes a good choice.
     
  7. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    May 19, 2009

    Some kids handle things that way. I have had kids who laugh, smirk, or giggle when in trouble. For them it is like crying for me. They way to handle it is ignore it and continue with the punishment that you had planned. I had a student that would laugh when I got on to him. A loud, out of control laugh was his norm for being in trouble. I would sit him in a time out stop and tell him when he was in control we would continue. Then I would punish him the original way I had intended.
     
  8. cateste

    cateste Companion

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    May 19, 2009

    I would contact his parents and ask them how he handles discipline at home. Of course, I wouldn't give the specifics of what you thought you might have done. The child may need more help than you can offer. Dishing out 10 minutes at a time is no help. Kids at that point have no concept and when they owe you 5 years of recess he/you know you can't follow through.
     
  9. nattles19

    nattles19 Comrade

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    May 19, 2009

    So hard to deal with those kids who don't take you seriously when you are disciplining them! It's the toughest thing to do, but it really helps if you can show them they are not getting to you.

    I'm a believer in teacher time outs. You know, saying "You need to go sit in the back (or wherever a place he'd be removed from you might be) because I need a break from you (or because I am very upset - frustrated - right now). I will talk to you when I have calmed down."

    I have a girl this year who pushes my buttons with her feigned helplessness and unwillingness to try. I just started saying, "You're frustrating me right now, let me know when you are ready to work with me" and walking away. She rarely does it anymore!
     
  10. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    May 19, 2009

    If you had actually choked the child, it could have been extremely bad for your career and reputation in the community. Parents would have castigated you mercilessly.

    However, at the same time, most parents aren't exactly surprised to find out their kids can frustrate and infuriate teachers. Most kids frustrate and infuriate parents from time to time. So, there's a bit of a double-standard. And actually, the kids probably upset their parents more than they upset you (after all, if the kid flunks out of high school, it doesn't affect you one whit, but it still affects the parents).

    So, while I think you should treat this seriously and reflect on it, I don't think you should consider it as disqualifying you from teaching or somehow make you an inherently bad person. You went up to the line and stopped, and then distanced yourself. That was a good decision.

    It might also be worthwhile to figure out how to express your anger in some acceptable physical way, pounding the desk or something. Try not to use it often, of course, or it becomes worthless to both you and them, and the particularly unruly might start the game of "Get Teacher_Lyn to abuse the desk". Used sparingly, and it shows your patience does have some limits and helps you get out the frustration in a way that won't end up threatening your career.
     
  11. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    May 19, 2009

    TeacherLyn, you are surely SURELY not alone in getting pushed to your limits by a student. You should be very proud that you stopped before doing anything. What a relief! That would haunt and haunt you (and the kid, naturally, but we're talking about you right now).

    The kid may be the kind to laugh when others would cry, as previously pointed out. My "That Kid" smiles endlessly when he is really understanding that he's blown it with me. At first I asked if he thought this was funny, but his sincere No! while still smiling that smile of his gave me the awareness that he is not laughing.

    You said you began yelling at him and standing over him. This is the posture and sound of an out-of-control (or just about to be) person, and some kids just love to see it. Maybe they don't know the trouble they are about to find themselves in, I don't know. But I would try not to get to that point anymore. The best advice I've had on this subject is to "look and sound mad" before you are actually mad. At the first sign of a kid acting up, appear very angry (controlled but with a serious tone, eye contact, and direct comments like, "When you do that, I get very angry, and I expect you to stop.") This way, you get to express yourself without going up to the line emotionally. Try it,it has really helped me. And the word "expect" is intentional. For some reason, the word "expect" works for some kids.

    Hugs!
     
  12. GoldenPoppy

    GoldenPoppy Habitué

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    May 19, 2009

    Another thing that you need to think about...did other students in the class see the interaction between you and "Johnny"? If so, it is entirely possible that they may go home and report that "Ms. Teacher Lyn choked Johnny" to their parents. You'll need to have an answer if a parent asks about that.
     
  13. becky

    becky Enthusiast

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    May 19, 2009

    Our pastor's wife once told our Moms' group of a day when her son's teacher was so exasperated with a child she screamed 'G.D. it,__________ !'
     
  14. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    May 19, 2009

    The year is almost over. You have a chance to start new. Over the summer, think about your new classroom management plan and what you need to revise.
    I've been there, as many have, where you have that kid that just grates on your last nerve. Nothing infuriates me more than a kid laughing in my face.
    Have a nice glass of wine and go to bed early. Maybe it was just a super bad day.

    BTW-I think it takes a strong person to admit when they've lost control (even though you didn't do anything) and ask for help. Good luck to you! :)
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    May 19, 2009

    Could the child have been laughing from nerves? I had a child last year who smiled when being redirected...it was a little strange but it wasn't intentional on her part...
     
  16. dizzykates

    dizzykates Habitué

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    May 19, 2009

    I understand your frustration. I think most teachers do. I am so glad that you caught yourself!! I have had many trying moments things year. I have stepped outside the room to take a moment for myself (students were inside, shocked I left), I have asked another teacher to step in so I can take a break (5/10 minutes in the bathroom does wonders some days!), and I have called the principal to come have a chat with my entire class midday, no notice. I have also scrapped entire lessons and made them sit and think simply to regroup. Of course, I haven't had too many days where the kids are dangerous, they are mostly unruly and disrepectful. You can always remove all the other children to a safe location (find a TA or another teacher to take them) and sit at your desk while the child calms down. If the audience is gone it is amazing how quickly they settle down.
     
  17. kacieann

    kacieann Companion

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    May 19, 2009

    Most teachers have their moments when they do not know what else to do. I will never forget my first year teaching I had a student that I was disciplining and she started screaming at me. I started laughing:eek: I knew that I had to do something. Laughing was my way of stress release. I now know that laughing was probably one of the worst things I could have done, but I sure learned from the experience. Now, when I feel my blood boiling I simply stare or walk away so I can relax. We all have our days and I think that as long as you can learn from the experience it these are the days that challenge me to be a better teacher.
     
  18. blindteacher

    blindteacher Cohort

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    May 19, 2009

    It sounds to me like you have been accumulating a lot of frustration and this child was the string that broke the camel's back. It also doesn't help that he was laughing at you -- whether it nervous laughter or for whatever reason, you most likely interpreted it as blatant disrespect in the moment. Thank goodness you caught yourself.

    If I were you would I would try to work on channeling that frustration into another source so it doesn't accumulate to a point where you have the impulse to strangle a student. Perhaps work out or do something creative or even talk with other colleagues or a friend/spouse about your daily frustrations.
     
  19. myKroom

    myKroom Habitué

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    May 19, 2009

    You are definitely not alone!! I have the same kind of class you described...and a few times have been pushed to that limit of being ready to do something I shouldn't! I'm just finding that the grade level is not right for me and I want to try working with upper elementary students to see what happens...

    HOWEVER...

    I just found out that I am moving to first grade next year and will have my kids over again!!!!!!!!!!! :eek:hmy: :unsure: :help: I have to talk to my principal tomorrow to find out how to get the stress level and apprehension down over the summer! I'm really dreading having these kids again!
     
  20. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    May 20, 2009

    What you did doesn't make you a bad teacher or mean that you shouldn't be a teacher. It does mean that you may need to explore your classroom management plan and behavior management plan so that you can have a better year next year. Last summer I read Fred Jones Tools for Teaching and started to incorporate a lot of his philosophies into my class. Before I read the book I yelled a lot more when I got mad at kids. I knew that when I yelled at them, they were more likely to argue back or have another negative consequence, but I really didn't know anything else to do when they got out of hand. After I read it I started practicing the different teacher looks that are in his book. I'm not perfect, but now when they laugh or smile or try to argue about being reprimanded they get a totally blank stare. You can't argue with a blank stare. They get the blank stare for as long as it takes for them to pull it together. That way they don't get a rise out of me and my blood doesn't start boiling.

    You need to find something that will work for you and will give you something to fall back on other than yelling. When you yell and they don't respond how you want it is hard to step back and calm down. But you can only control you, not the way they will react to the things you do. Behavior management will get so much easier once you have an alternate to yelling.
     
  21. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    May 20, 2009

    I've never want to physically harm a child, but bad words have almost slipped out of my mouth numerous times. Today one boy who I've been fed up with for a LONG time hit another child--- instead of me dealing with it, I automatically sent him to the office. Then he decided to wander the school and the disciplinary admin found him and talked to him. Then another girl who's been getting on my nerves SOOO MUCH and I honestly think its because her Mom works here too (though the Mom is wonderful-- I just don't feel up to telling her what a brat her daughter is especially when my supervisor adores her too) lied straight to my face with no remorse of when I found out. Instead of going straight to her Mom with it, I told her homeroom teacher, who will probably tell Mom for me. Next time, I'm going straight to Mom and the homeroom teacher--- I'm done.

    Kids like these are brats who don't understand their place in this world. I'm sorry that it sounds so harsh but really I don't ever remember kids behaving like this and I'm only 24.

    I'm sure you're a great teacher, like me though we just have to work on our classroom management and honestly I think it begins with day 1 and if you're not up their butts on behaving it'll be harder now. But all teachers, as the summer draws near, will lose their kids so don't feel bad.
     
  22. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    Hang in there. I bet it happens to all of us. When I reach that point, I sometimes take the child by the hand and lead him into the teacher working next door and ask if he can take his time out in her room for just a minute. She does it to me and we help each other out like that. Another nice thing in my room is, I have a small balcony outside my door. We sometimes take the child by the hand and lead them out there, walk them around in a circle a few times and bring them back in. By that time they are so confused and a bit worried that they straighten right up. I know it's funny, but it does work to do something as ridiculous as that!
     
  23. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

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    May 20, 2009

    DON'T LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT!:D
    We have a couple of kids in our class who do the same thing as your "neck" child.:) Take him aside and let him know how you feel about what he's doing. Some children thrive on NEGATIVE ATTENTION, which is better TO THEM than no attention at all. Crazy as it sounds, children like these, will do their worst, just to keep your undivided attention. It's not fair to the other children. I do my best to catch these little guys and do ONE ON ONE time. I talk about the importance of listening instead of showing off for attention, at Circle Time. Sometimes it's a sign that they are bored of the same old thing AND I need to change it up A LOT! :haha:
    Rebel1
     
  24. tiffharmon2001

    tiffharmon2001 Comrade

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    May 21, 2009

     
  25. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    May 21, 2009

    I have been having some of the same feelings. Esp. after an entire year of the behavior, it adds up and we are only human. We practice parameters of our own behavior, but we are only human.

    I actually found myself poking and giving a little push to the shoulders of some kids a couple weeks ago. Since then, hands off the kids.

    I think you should do as advised - ask some trusted colleagues about the class, your methods, and advice. Gear up for next year.

    some suggestions:
    - be super overplanned
    -keep them busy
    -have them line up only in the order you prefer -assign numbers so troublemakers can't be near each other.
    -have an agreement to put children in time out in another classroom so you can both calm down.

    I don't think it is you. Some classes are just wild and feed off each other. You might want to view the Love and Logic videos this summer, or take a L/L seminar to prepare for next year.

    I feel for you. I am having less and less patience with the kids as each day passes. I know this has been a tough year because of personal issues and constant pain. Some years are like that.
     
  26. little317

    little317 Groupie

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    May 21, 2009

    I had no idea there were videos that go with the books. I'd love to actually see and hear these practices in action.
     
  27. DaMaddHatter

    DaMaddHatter Rookie

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    May 21, 2009

    OMG!!!

    So, it turns out your human--scary, isn't it? I have only ever taught "bad" kids, and I wouldn't know what a non-unruly class would be like, so I guess I probably think different from others. One thing I believe in strongly is that a classroom must be under control. I went through the phase of feeling bad for these really out of control kids; you know, "oh they must have it so bad at home to be acting this way, and how can I help them?" stuff. But what I overlooked is what was being done to the other kids in the name of trying to "save" one child. If you are in a class where most of the kids are well-off and one or a few have it bad, then it might not matter so much, but when all the kids have it bad, then sacrificing for one makes no sense.

    Look, lots of kids have it bad, and only a few act like jerks. I can already feel the scorn raining down on me, but I feel that if kids are too disruptive to the rest of the class, they should be gone, period. They should get an education, sure, just somewhere else. Other kids don't deserve some moron smashing into them in line, and they should not see the little such-and-such laughing at a teacher with no reprecussions. It's bad for the class, and it's unhealthy for the laugher. I in no way advocate physically hurting a child, but the other kids should see that such disrespect WILL NOT stand.

    Generally, I try conventional punishments. Then, if that has no effect, I basically take some time and think of something that I know will get to the kid. I might announce to the whole class that I will come up with some sort of special punishment, then I announce whatever I have decided with much fanfare the next day when things are calmer.

    Okay, before the death threats come my way, let me mention that I teach in the type of place that the average American does not believe exists in our country today. The kids here are VERY rough, and establishing control of the classroom is critical. My way of thinking probably would no fly in the 'burbs, but I do believe that a firmer hand may be needed while analyzing "self-esteem" issues probably isn't. Demand respect and do not tolerate disrespect, and if your voice raises or you have unkind thoughts in the process, so be it! Don't beat yourself up for having feelings, and don't give this incident a second thought. Keep on charging ahead!
     
  28. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    May 22, 2009

    Yes, there are Love and Logic videos, possibly DVDs. They are excellent. Did you know Jim Faye came to the point of actually striking a child in the face????? The mother said the kid probably deserved it. This was probably 30 years ago, and things were different then.

    But Jim knew from that incident that he had to find a new way to deal with difficult kids. So he went to the most successful teacher in the school and she is the basis of a lot of his ideas.

    We have watched the videos at my school, and most of the staff is on board with the discipline. Check out L/L online, on ebay, or check with school districts in your area - they might be willing to loan them for the summer.

    I could not continue in this profession if I did not use L/L.
     
  29. lafogosa

    lafogosa Companion

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    May 24, 2009

     
  30. frogger

    frogger Devotee

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    May 24, 2009

    I completely understand - I've felt that way this year with a specific child who not only pushed my buttons but the whole class. Admin waited until 6 weeks left of school to move him out due to him bullying/kicking/fighting another student whose parents raised you know what.

    Now my classroom is a lot better - however he got moved to the classroom next door and that teacher has to deal with it and she just remarked to me on Friday - how did I make it so long with him in the classroom.
     
  31. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    May 24, 2009

    TeacherLyn,

    You may remember I have the class with all the ADHD boys and an ODD girl who also has Aspergers and ADHD. The last few weeks I have taken an entirely different approach to my discipline. I just sit and wait and the more time they waste the more recess they lose. They get sick of it after a while and the good kids remind the "bad" kids.


    I have some games like Sparkle and the like that kids like to play. I reserve 10 minutes at the end of the day for that. If they misbehave a lot on a day where we don't have outdoor recess, I'll start chipping away at that time.

    In the case of your line, I am not sure where it was but if it was in your room, you should send them ALL back to their desks and have them re-line up. Then, you call them by who is sitting nicely in their chair with their heads down. If they can't behave in line, send them all back again. Do it as many times as you need to. "We'll do this as long as we need to guys, it's your time, not mine." If it ends up being only "wring his neck Johnny" after you have done this a few times, then send him to another room and take your class where you need to go.

    You know, I refuse to let my teaching job stress me out. I've had jobs where I was totally stressed out and I don't need that. I have bigger fish to fry.
     

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