I am very concerned because a disruptive child has told me "what happens at home stays at home"

Discussion in 'General Education' started by ladybugteacher, Sep 8, 2016.

  1. ladybugteacher

    ladybugteacher Companion

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    Hi all,
    I am a fairly new 5th grade teacher and I very concerned about the home life of one of my students. I have a boy in my class who for all intents is extremely intelligent but also seems rather bigoted, and I am almost certain his attitude is learned from either one or both parents. He makes comments and tells "jokes" which make other students of color uncomfortable, but never quite crosses the line into actionable racist statements or bullying.
    He is ethnically Chinese, the other day he told a group of students that Donald Trump is building a wall to keep us safe from Mongol horsemen. One of the students, who is ethnically Hispanic stood up and said that the wall Donald Trump wants to build will separate her family and that she didn't think a border wall is a joking matter. He told her to "relax" and asked her if she every saw Mulan because because "Shan Yu doesn't look like he plays around".
    Naturally when I found out about this incident I spoke to him privately. I told him how words can hurt people, especially when a subject is culturally sensitive. I tried to explain to him how he hurt his classmates feelings. His response to me is that "his culture is one defined by two thousand years of institutional anarchy where safety ended at the battlements of the northern wall" so it "hurts" him when he hears people disparaging border walls. This shocks me because, where does a 5th grader learn to talk like this.
    Seeing as I was getting anywhere with him I wrote letter to his parents detailing our discussion and told him to bring it back signed.
    I conferred with an assistant principal as to what other disciplinary options were available for situations like this and she pretty much told me all I could do was write him up for being disruptive if it happens again; this would lead to little more than one or two detentions. The next day he brought the signed letter back with his father's signature on it. Normally when I have had to go this route, there is normally a note by the parent or some sort of acknowledgement of my concerns. This time there was nothing, just a signature. I was concerned that the signature was forged so I decided to give dad a call. I wasn't able to get a hold of dad so I left a message with dad's secretary. An hour later I get a very apologetic call back from dad's secretary, informing me that dad was aware of my letter, that he signed it and that in his words, which she quoted, "please do not trouble me again with these trivial matters".
    I was practically floored by this, I ask dad's secretary if I could speak to him directly and she told me, very politely, no. So I decide to ask little junior if his parents spoke to him about my concerns. He tells me that the family rule is we don't talk about what occurs at home in school and that "life is gravy when you mind your own budcuits" and furthermore he would "just take the detention now since his 8th grader girlfriend doesn't get out of school until 430 anyways".
    I am really at a loss of what to do. The school tells me that we can't really get involved unless there are concrete indications of abuse, nothing he has done really merits more than a couple detentions, and director of instruction had told me that he "tests very well" and is a "STEMS superstar". It is very obvious that he does not respect me and I cannot help but think the parents (just a hunch but most likely dad) is responsible for the boy's unacceptable behavior. What can I do?
    Rant over
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think that you have an apple and tree situation here.
     
  4. ladybugteacher

    ladybugteacher Companion

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    What can be done though? As teachers it is or duty to combat ignorance
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think that the student will face some natural consequences for the way he talks to his classmates. I mean, who will want to be friends with a jerkface, you know? I don't know that what he is saying should result in disciplinary action unless you really feel like he is bullying others. People, including parents, are allowed to hold undesirable beliefs, even if we don't like it. As teachers, I think that it's best that we continue to teach lessons about empathy and acceptance and hope that it sinks in. We aren't in the business of forcing our beliefs upon children, though, even if we know it would make the world a better place.
     
  6. ladybugteacher

    ladybugteacher Companion

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    This actually is the second part of my concern. He seems to have a following in the class and I am worried he is going to become a pied piper and have a really negative incluse influence on his classmates. The problem is there is a group of students who don't think he is a jerkface but hang on his every word. There is even a little girl in my class who says she is one of his girlfriends and that he told her "it is very normal for prominent Chinese men to have more than one wife". She told me he promises that she will be his favorite wife. :sweat:
     
  7. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Honestly, I think some of what you are hearing is his culture, or his culture as defined by his parents, and while we may not like it, we can't necessarily hope to change his beliefs or turn him against his parents' way of life. What you can do, is say, "In this classroom we do not talk about other cultures that way." Model a different viewpoint, and insist that at least while he is in your classroom, he must speak respectfully about others, or receive consequences.

    I also think it's sad that his test scores are being used as an excuse for his behavior...it shouldn't make any difference how "smart" you are; if you're being disrespectful, the consequences should be the same, no matter "who" you are.
     
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  8. ladybugteacher

    ladybugteacher Companion

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    Ms. Irene, I appreciate what you are saying about not changing some one else's way of life. However a lot of what he claims to be "cultural" are really inferences and stereotypes he cites from movies and TV (he likes to tell other Mulan and Short Round are "their" Susan B Anthony and Caesar Chavez respectively). It is very obvious he uses his Chinese heritage as a prop in his one man show. Even that is not my real issue. My issue is his attitude is emboldening other trouble makers and he has convinced other students to lie for. Today I am taking a mental health day because I just couldn't take it. He has started a thing,and now a group of students are calling me "lyin' Dye". Of course when I confronted him about it be told me it was my word against his and that "the burden of proof is on the accuser". He followed up by telling me that maybe if I didn't make up crazy stories people won't call me a liar.
    This lyin Dye business is the result of me calling the parent of the girl who claims to be his girlfriend. I saw him put his hand into her back pocket on multiple occasions. I tried speaking to both of them about inappropriate touching but that doesn't work. I spoke to the girls parents and she has convinced them that I am lying because I "am prejudice against that sweet little boy".
    Also what kind of consequences can I dole out? He doesn't seem to care if I contact his parents, mom refuses to discuss issues with me without dad, and dad never returns my calls no matter how many messages I leave with his secretary.
     
  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Now, accusing you of lying is a bigger thing, and I think that you can handle this with disciplinary consequences. If his parents won't participate, then I think you should get in touch with admin for direction on how to proceed.
     
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  10. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    The inappropriate touching would also be grounds for some pretty significant consequences.
     
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  11. ladybugteacher

    ladybugteacher Companion

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    I have, administration said I have no proof. I spoke to him in the presence of the assistant principal and I asked him to repeat what he told me about "telling crazy stories" he stated that he never accused me of lying he was just making a "general statement concerning the consequences of not being truthful". Then he reiterated that any account of him and the girl inappropriately touching are "erroneous and fallacious " and that "again the burden of proof is on the accuser, just like they taught in US history class ".
     
  12. ladybugteacher

    ladybugteacher Companion

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    But what can I do if the girl claims it didn't happen and every one says I have no proof?
     
  13. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Your admin doesn't support your observation?
     
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  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    If neither parents nor admin will support you, then I'm honestly not sure that there is anything you can do.
     
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  15. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    You're absolutely right. I missed that the first time I read it.
     
  16. ladybugteacher

    ladybugteacher Companion

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    The assistant principal says she believes me but it is a very hard sell if I have no proof, especially since the parents of the young lady wil swear up and down that their little angel will never lie and that they are highly offended that I would even question the integrity of their daughter.
    Like I said I am more concerned that other students' behavior is being affected. To tell you the truth I have had this girl in one of my extra curricular a year ago and if I didn't see the incident with my own eyes I would too believe she would never lie.
     
  17. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    At this point, your best bet might be to go really heavy on the discipline for the young man's cohorts. If they want to hang with him, they can reap what they sow.

    It is obvious that the parents have trained this boy well to be a disruption, and apparently the parents don't believe in respect.
     
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  18. ladybugteacher

    ladybugteacher Companion

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    What are your suggestions?
     
  19. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Wow, he really sounds like a piece of work...I don't have too many good solutions, especially at the elem. level. At the HS level, I would write him up and let admin handle it. I am sorry to hear that you are dealing with this!
     
  20. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Let me think on it for a few minutes.
     
  21. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Can you keep these kids absolutely so busy during the day that they don't have any time to socialize and gang up on you? Do group activities and make sure you make the groups? If you get attitude, they get to sit out while the rest of the class does something fun? Don't carry on any conversation not related to school with them when they are misbehaving...just shut the conversation down and walk away.
    Ask another adult to pop in for a visit and see if your little lovelies show their stripes?

    It sounds like it will be a difficult year with this child, unfortunately. I forgot what grade you said you were...can you send him to a different class in a higher grade for part of his academics, since everyone says he is so smart?
     
  22. ladybugteacher

    ladybugteacher Companion

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    Thank you for your kind words. This is insane! He is a fifth grader. Already he is talking about "due process " and "burdens of proof". I have written him up but I have never got anything serious to stick because every time he would demand that admin show him which subsection of the code of conduct covers the "alleged infraction" and that my accusations are either " unsubstantiated third person accounts" or "lacking in objective evidence". Mind all of you this is just the 3rd week of school.
     
  23. ladybugteacher

    ladybugteacher Companion

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    He does math and science at the junior high. Where he seems to be involved with another young lady. I saw her come get him after a detention and they walked off with his arm around her hip. (This isn't the girl who caused the who Lyin Dye) situation.
     
  24. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Is the dad a lawyer?
     
  25. ladybugteacher

    ladybugteacher Companion

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    No he is actually a Texas public engineer. I have actually looked him up and he's been arrested at least 5 times, but not a single conviction :unamused:
     
  26. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    That explains why the kid knows legal jargon.
     
  27. ladybugteacher

    ladybugteacher Companion

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    Do you know if there is anything I can do? When would cps get involved? I can't even get consistent support from my fellow educators. I the administration says they believe me but their hands are tied. His science and math teachers think he is a "gift". His history teacher and PE coach love him. The only other teacher who finds him concerning is the art teacher. She believes that he does not respect us because we are female. I was always told that Asian parents really valued education and educators. His father seems rather unhelpful, despite the fact that he is presumably highly educated him self (Texas public engineer).
     
  28. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Why would cps need to be called? If being arrested or being a jerk was the only thing needed to call, some years I'd have lived on the phone!

    I don't think you're going to get any help from the parents. I would bet the kid is parroting his dad. Try to handle the discipline in the classroom as much as you can if consequences are allowed at your school since it sounds like everyone else is under this kid/parent's spell. At the same time, I'd continue to make it known to admin that he is touching others inappropriately and what seems to be bullying behavior. Document every time you've reached out to others about this to CYA. I also agree with keeping his class super busy with very little down time and structure from bell to bell.
     
  29. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    That a kid knows these phrases, even if he is just repeating back what he's heard, astounds me!

    I normally support looking through things from the other's cultural perspective. However, it sounds to me like this boy is almost forming a small gang. I agree with keeping them busy all day. Structure the day as much as possible, and pair up students with partners rather than letting them choose their own partners if doing any group work. You may not be able to fix this one child, but try to get on the good side of one of the students on the edge of his group to start slowly dismantling his following. I can't really explain the strategy in full detail very well but there's a good explanation of what I mean here. http://www.smartclassroommanagement...ndle-six-disrespectful-students-in-one-class/

    If you notice him doing something he shouldn't be, like having his hand on the butt of his "girlfriend", try to get another adult to see it before calling him out on it if possible. Also, try not to have a one-on-one conversation with him without witnesses if possible too. Like teacherintexas says, CYA in all ways. It sucks, but it's better to be extra careful than to have to defend yourself or find some way to "prove" your word is truth.
     
  30. ladybugteacher

    ladybugteacher Companion

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    Say I can get another witness to the hand on her butt thing, what can really be done if she either doesn't complain or states that she has given consent. I really don't know if I can handle a complete knock down drag out fight with two sets of parents. Also I mentioned to his science teacher at the Junior high school that I have seen him with his arm around the waist of an 8th grade girl, and he told me that they are "adorable together". It's like nobody is concerned about any of this.
     
  31. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    A fifth grader cannot give consent. And surely your school handbook has a rule on PDA. It doesn't matter whether the parents approve or not. Think about it as a different kind of rule... if a kid swears, it's against the rules. It doesn't matter whether his parents let him swear.

    Now, for the racist comments, I don't think there's much you can do. Except for documenting it as disruption or bullying (if it is that), he's not really breaking any rules.

    Is there any male figure at the school he respects, maybe a tough male teacher, who can give him a straight up talking to? "Hey, knock that off, that's disrespectful and we don't tolerate that here." Without knowing the kid it's hard to know if that would work. It could go either way - the kid could listen to him somewhat, or just react the same way he reacts to you. However, sometimes having a male figure to straight talk is helpful in getting a message to sink in for a boy like this.

    This is a "pick your battle" scenario though I think. If you're not prepared to fight that battle (on the racist jokes or the PDA), you might as well just leave it alone.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2016
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  32. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I remember a time when all the proof that was needed was "the teacher saw it". That your admin won't back you up because of "lack of evidence" is ridiculous. Having to get second hand accounts or another student to corroborate your story just tells me that your admin doesn't trust their teachers.

    I'm a big proponent on not relying on admin for discipline. There's not a lot you can do to keep it from happening outside of your classroom but if a kid were making racist comments or anything that defiled the sanctity and safety of my classroom, they would be spending lunch with me, until I was satisfied that they understood that that kind of behavior is completely not tolerated in my classroom. If the parent had a problem with it, they could bring it up with admin, and they normally don't interfere when it's a teacher holding a student accountable on their own.
     
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  33. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I agree, but also, what can a principal really do if a parent and the student insist that the student didn't do whatever the teacher says they did? Even if the principal does believe the teacher, it's still a tough spot to be in. I've been in a similar situation, and the principal called up students to corroborate my story because the student was flat out denying it happened. The student had made some kind of violent threat (not to me). Luckily, the principal did not doubt me, but it's still helpful to have another person to tell what happened.
     
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  34. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I guess I personally believe that principals should back up their teachers. I had the gift of a principal that would tell a parent no matter what, "I've got my teacher's back on this one," for the last four years, regardless of the ridiculousness of the complaints or denials by students or parents. But I also made sure not to overly burden my principal and take the reins of discipline on my own whenever I could because you're right, it is a hard position to be in.
     
  35. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    She's too young to give consent. It's inappropriate behaviour in a school setting, regardless of age.
     
  36. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    I agree with the comments above, but I am also seeing another side to this story. I'm wondering if placing a 10 year old, who is experiencing confusion about social relationships and is exploring these relationships inappropriately, in a class of 13 year olds is an appropriate fit. This is only the 3rd week of school and so positive changes can be made. The junior high placement is probably out of the teacher's control, but if I were in this situation, this is how I would handle it. I would conference with the student in a safe situation (open doors, another adult within earshot, etc.) but turn the tables. Rather than accusatory, I would try to discuss with him what I've observed, his astounding wisdom concerning legal matters, his achievements in school, and the concerns about inappropriate touching within a school setting, political comments made in an offensive manner (not criticizing his political viewpoints but concern over how he expresses them), and defamation of the teacher by calling her a name. I would explain why I've taken the actions I have up to this point and why I cannot tolerate certain behaviors. The most important part of such a discussion is to listen. His thoughts and ideas are important, even though he needs to mature in these matters; he's a little 10 year old kid dealing with adult concepts with 13 year old guidance. The main goal of conferencing would be for us to work together for a positive 5th grade classroom experience.

    In reaching out to the parents, I might advise not including a 3rd party such as a secretary. I realize it was the father who involved the secretary, but I would avoid contacting through him/her again. Another situation might be occurring here; perhaps not in the boy's home, but in the 8th graders' homes, in today's society, parental instruction and guidance is often replaced with instruction and guidance from peers and TV, especially the Disney channel (Sax, 2016). Perhaps he is hearing comments from 8th graders, observing their physical expressions towards each other, and seeing junk on TV and YouTube. But back to reaching out to the parents, I would recommend also commenting on positive situations in notes home. I would look forward to parent/conference day, for that would be an opportunity to let the parents explain their concerns and ideas and for me to find ways to work with them to best assist their son.

    If I might re-address the junior high issue again, this troubles me when students are advanced due to scores on tests but consideration is not given to where they are in other areas of maturity. Think about it, he probably could pass a drivers education course with flying colors, but is he ready to drive?

    Note: Sax, Leonard. The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups. N.Y.: Basic Books, 2016. E-book, ISBN 978-0-465-07384-9.
     
  37. ladybugteacher

    ladybugteacher Companion

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    Every one have me some great insight, I am going to see how the day goes today. I know a fifth grader is too young to consent but our school hand book (this is elementary where most students are still scared of cooties) barely addresses unwanted touching.
    I really really hope I can do something constructive because this boy isn't a regular trouble maker. Yes it does seem like he is forming a little gang but all those students in his circle have shown marked improvement in their academics. In fact one of the reasons the parents of his "girlfriend" don't believe me is because according to her mom, he is often over at their house with their daughter and another little girl doing homework. She claimed that her daughter's math skills became improved greatly after this boy started coming over to do homework together. She told me that her daughter told her she didn't need to count her fingers any more because the little boy taught her "some tricks that most teachers don't know". She then implied that maybe my prejudice towards the little boy is rooted in jelously.
    Also I am concerned at the influence he has on that little girl in my class. As a woman I found it shocking that this girl told me she is looking forward to a polygamous marriage (read bigamy) based on the influence of a boy. Should I try to speak to her 1 on 1. Her parents don't believe me in this either because they say their daughter is to young to know anything about polygamy and concubines and that she still thinks she is going to marry a Disney price.
     
  38. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    What does he mean by what happens at home stays at home??? Wouldn't that also apply to what is talked about at home stays at home? Therefore, he should not be talking about those types of things at school. Otherwise, that statement makes no sense. The parents seem quite looney tunes to me.
     
  39. ladybugteacher

    ladybugteacher Companion

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    This is exactly why I am concerned
     
  40. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Every time he talks about that nonsense I would just repeat that phrase right back at him.
     
  41. ladybugteacher

    ladybugteacher Companion

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    I would absolutely love to do this but, most of his nonsense is shared outside of my classroom. The problem is when other students repeat his statements in class, or when a group of students refer to me as lyin' Dye behind my back, when I have kids asking me what a "concubine" is and if "niggardly" really means what junior says it means, or when the parent of another student calling about a microagression their child suffered at the hands of the little boy or his buddies.
    He actually says very little in my class. Is just his influence on the other children.
     

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