my big mouth

Discussion in 'General Education' started by stephenpe, May 3, 2011.

  1. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    I have discovered over the years (and years) that I am prone
    to say things I might not have said in my younger days. I guess
    I just could care less what folks think. I know as a teacher that
    can be stupid. I have been called worse.
    My boss said an angry parent called him with the comment that
    I said her kid must have a mother taking lots of pills for headaches.
    I laughed when he told me and he said "she is not laughing."
    So after two days of trying to find a working # I finally talked to
    her with apologies and words of comfort. She seems fine now.
    My comments to the class sometimes are. " I know your moms are taking lots of tyenol to put up with this nonsense".
    Would that offend you?
     
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  3. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I don't think your last quote was that offensive (although it might not have been the wisest thing to say), but I'm sure when the kid got home he didn't quote you exactly and it got blown out of proportion. In fact, when you first just said "mother taking lots of pills," "tylenol to put up with nonsense" was NOT my first thought. If a kid came home and said something similar to that, I'd be worried too. It makes sense when you put in context, but keep in mind kids don't always do that when talking to parents about their day. Now that you know this might happen, you'll just have to be more careful about holding your tongue. I'm sure we've all said things that would make us sound bad out of context!
     
  4. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    I know what lies kids tell at home and even have caught parents in a few lies. My comment to them is "I won't believe everything they tell me about what happens at home if you won't believe everything they say about school" Usually gets a laugh.
     
  5. myloveasdeep

    myloveasdeep Rookie

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    I once said something to a student who hadn't done any work for weeks, along the lines of "Get to work and stop using air that people who ARE working can use." I took him out in the hall to say it, and it turned out later that he took it REALLY hard and was very upset with me. I didn't find out until a meeting with his parents, when he told me that he remembered it as "You are a waste of air."

    I apologized to him right away, there was lots of crying from all parties, and I felt wretched for days. I spoke in anger. It happens. Teachers are held to higher standards in terms of holding our tongues. I'm sure it's happened to everyone at some point. We dust ourselves off and move on.
     
  6. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I wouldn't have gotten upset about it! I know that they need tylenol to put up with the nonsense!
     
  7. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I always had a big mouth, too, and had to watch it. I know at my private school, that comment would not have been acceptable.
     
  8. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I probably wouldn't have been offended. I think it would have a lot more to do, though, with who it came from - if you have a good rapport with your kids, you joke around frequently, and generally show that you care, it would be a lot less potentially offensive than if you were constantly being critical, never light-hearted, etc.
     
  9. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I think asking this question on a teacher board is going to give you a false sense of whether or not it would be deemed offensive by a parent that isn't a teacher.

    You don't mention the grade level you teach, but for younger students, I don't feel comments like that are appropriate to make. Older students might get the humor in it.

    Also, I believe most times when students mis-report to home about things like this it isn't purposeful lies such as substituting the word 'pills' for 'Tylenol' but they are expression their perception of what was said. This is not to say there aren't times where students lie, but there is a huge difference between a purposeful lie and trouble with perception.
     
  10. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    My co teacher that I worked with last year said a lot of things that would have gotten a lot of other teachers in trouble, but she had a way of saying it in a nicer way so no one really got offended.
     
  11. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    This was a new child. The children I have taught for years (and usually the parents) have no problem. I still think it is funny.
    My problem is elem. kids take so much literally. So I have to explain things sometimes. I have NO SENSE of false security teaching anymore but I still have fun.
     
  12. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I didn't say sense of false security teaching.

    I said you would have a false sense of whether parents would be offended by the comment made to the students.
     
  13. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    I think your comment was funny. I think people are too quick to judge others sometimes on here. I am sure most of us have said worse without even thinking about it. When I taught 2nd grade, our counselor was teaching a unit on car safety. She told the kids that everyone in the car should wear a seatbelt. One little boy said that his father wouldn't and what should he tell him. She said to tell your dad "if you loved me, you would wear a seatbelt." It was out of her mouth before she could think. Several parents had a fit. She did not mean anything by it, but because of that one statement people judged her. The sad thing was that we had other teachers commenting on it in public (pre-facebook, thank God!). There are so many people looking to judge teachers, we should be supportive and avoid doing the same.
     
  14. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    StephenPE, I thought it was a funny comment........

    Now if you had said " your moms must drink a lot to put up with this nonsense" then you might have had more explaining to do.......:p
     
  15. scholarteacher

    scholarteacher Connoisseur

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    I also tell my parents, Don't believe everything your kid comes home and tells you from school, and we won't believe everything your kid tells us about home.
     
  16. cmw

    cmw Groupie

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    Gone are the days when a student going home & saying the teacher said "your mother must be taking lots of tylenol" resulted in the parent saying "what was your class doing that caused the teacher to say that." Today parents often believe verbatim what their child says. I find it refreshing when a parent calls to check on a story told by their child, rather than to take it as gospel. I don't think the comment was offensive. You basically were saying the kids were giving you a headache. ;)
     
  17. husker_blitz

    husker_blitz Companion

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    I tease a lot of my students in similar ways. Part of it you need to know the kid and their family life to know what will fly and what wont. I know sooner or later it's going to catch up with me, but I also know the kids will think I'm dying if I stopped teasing them all of a sudden.
     
  18. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I agree with the idea that parents need to not take everything their kid says word for word, and I do the same. I have a tendancy to be extremely sarcastic with my students much of the time. It takes them a while every year, but eventually they learn to know when I am being serious and when I am not.
    I know that I have said things that would be considered much worse than what you did. I also know that my kids know how to take it in context with me. There is a difference for when these things are said; were you having fun with your kids, were you angry with your students. Most kids can learn to understand a situation and know what is going on at the time (depending on age).
    I have rarely had an issue with parents coming back concerned about something I said. Instead I have had parents make comments saying they themselves laughed at what their child told me, or they make those type of comments themself when I meet with them.
     
  19. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    The best line I have heard in awhile was by a kid (2nd grader whose dad I taught 33 years ago) said this morning before school. He and some classmates were looking at some gruesome book they bought at the book fair and Andrew said " he was giving the guy mouth to mouth suffocation" I almost spit my coffee out.
     
  20. MathEducator

    MathEducator Rookie

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    I think the comment was funny. I have been in alternative education for 5 years and have made many comments along the same lines to my students and classes. Most of the students and parents get my humor, but there is always going to be one that does not quote you just right or does not get the joke. But hey, we are human. As long as you can defend what you say and you would have no problem repeating it in front of your principal and the parents, then I say continue on with your humor. Teachers having that type of relationship with his/her students always results in a lot more positive than negative. (In my opinion and experience anyway)
     
  21. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I understand the humor you were using very well, stephen. I have a natural tendency to do the same thing - outside of the classroom. Inside the classroom, I really have to remind myself that some kids just won't get the humor part - especially at the 6th grade level. Also, I'm not sure it was meant with as much humor as frustration. Coming from someone who has a tendency to think exactly like that at times, I know for myself I would probably be expressing my frustration with them more than any humor about their actions.

    While it's funny to tell parents "I won't believe everything they say about you if you don't believe everything they say about me" (and parents will probably laugh along with you about that when you say it), the fact is parents ARE going to believe what their kids say about you or their classmates or what happened at school when they come home. It's funny to the parent, until it is their child that comes home and says "The teacher said you must take a lot of pills to deal with me at home." As a parent and a teacher (and someone who has a very similar brand of sarcastic wit), I would also be calling the school to speak with either you or the principal to find out exactly what you said and why you thought it was appropriate to make a comment like that.

    The critical thing to remember is that kids don't always understand things said in jest, especially if it is mixed with mild sarcasm, and what they perceive to be said is the most important thing. Just look at the reactions we've had on this board among professional adults who share the same vocation with many of the same issues and daily frustrations. We are ALL guilty of reacting to what we THINK is being said (or what we think the "real meaning" behind a comment is) rather than what is actually typed. The religion in classroom thread was especially full of reactionary posts from members saying "Well, you might have said X, but what you really meant was Y". And there is some truth to that, many times. Perception is absolute key in communication, especially when dealing with kids. I can very easily see how anyone (including most of the adults here) would have taken the comment about "stop using air that others could use" to really mean "YOU are a waste of air". I know that is NOT what the teacher meant at all, but that is still the message that was sent.

    In your case, I don't think the kid twisted your words on purpose, that was just the message (s)he got from your comment. I agree there is a big difference between the two and - once you had explained the actual comment to me and the context it was used in, I would be more understanding (as a parent). As a teacher, though, I would remind you (as I'm doing now) that misperceptions like this are exactly WHY we (as teachers) have to be especially careful about making such comments - no matter how innocently or humorously they are intended to be - in the classroom, because at least one of the kids is bound to take it the wrong way.

    Sorry for the dissertation, but I wanted to give you both my perspective as a parent and teacher so you can see WHY I would probably have made that same call if one of my sons came home with that message. (In fact, I'm going to see the P at my son's middle school today because of an incident yesterday).

    I DO understand where you were coming from and that it was mainly meant as a joke, but I also understand the kid in question didn't really get the message about the taking a lot of tylenol and just remembered "mommy must take a lot of pills". I can then understand why mommy didn't think that was funny at all when she heard it.

    I'm sorry it happened and I think you handled it correctly, but I think it is also a good reminder of why we can't always say what we would like to in the classroom.
     
  22. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    To be honest, as a parent, I think Stephen's comment was kind of funny. I think your friend's comment, on the other hand, crosses a line. It assumes that she, or the 7 year old child, should be telling a parent how to behave. (Yeah, I know, we're supposed to wear seatbelts. And my car doesn't move unless everyone is buckled up. But it's not the school's place, or my children's place, to tell me that.)

    I wouldn't do anything about it; it's not important enough to warrant a phone call, but I wouldn't appreciate it.

    And, like it or not, people DO form impressions of us based on our actions and our words. It's not about teaching, it's about human nature. So if someone cuts me off on the road, I'm going to assume he's an idiot, not that his wife just filed for divorce-- even though that may very well be the case. We are always being judged by what we say and do.
     
  23. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    My grandmother was old school. Born in the 1890s. She did not
    cotton to profanity or any of the vices. My dad on the other hand used profanity like the masters used oils in painting.
    Of course my dad would make comments about drivers that
    would cut him off or endanger us somehow.
    Well, one day grandma was in the car with us. Someone made dad hit the breaks hard to avoid a collision. Dad said I turned to him and said...............here it comes ..............wait for it......................
    "he's a bast*rd isnt he daddy." I was 2 or 3 so I DONT know what grandma said or how she reacted.
     
  24. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    :yeahthat:

    I still struggle in finding the humor in the concept of 'your mother needs to take medication because you are so bad'. Who is it supposed to be funny to? The kid? The mom?

    Sure it is funny for a stand up comedian to say, but they say many things that just wouldn't be appropriate to say to others, particularly when you are in a position of power.
     
  25. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I tell my kids all the time that "there are things about you that just aren't quite right." They know I'm joking, and usually know that they've done something random or mildly inappropriate to deserve it. They laugh and go on. Thank goodness I teach high school, where kids get my sense of humor.
     
  26. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    This is the most important thing you said. You have to know your audience. That's part of understanding the developmental process as you already seem to understand. Knowing this, you are wiser to refrain from such type of humor.
     
  27. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by stephenpe
    My problem is elem. kids take so much literally. So I have to explain things sometimes.


    It may be semantics, but I find the comment misplacing responsibility.

    It is like saying, "My problem is young kids are like young kids." Shouldn't it be, "My problem is wanting to communicate above the students developmental level." Subtle difference but important when issues come up. It is not the issue with the kids, but with the communication.
     
  28. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Actually, I think a get down to their level pretty well.
    I try and talk to each child individually often. I ask them lots
    of questions regarding their lives and about PE. Most importantly I listen to them and then follow up on what we talked about later on. I certainly understand my responsibilities with little kids.
    I have done it for many years. I praise those that deserve it.
    Encourage those that need it and correct those that are straying from the tasks were doing. I guess the literal translation of my headache comment was "elmo, you need to worry about Elmo's problems and let others worry about their own" But that gets old after awhile and my creative side tries to communicate in less conventional ways. Hey, it is PE, it has to be fun for for all of us........
     
  29. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    eh....stuff happens. People get offended for everything nowadays, that's why PC stuff is around. there was a parent who told my P that basically I am causing their health problems because I told this student that I don't care to listen to any complaints when what I ACTUALLY said was "I'm tired of the tattling. If someone isn't bleeding, gasping for air, broken bone or bullying then it's tattling. Here is an ear (drew it on the board) so talk to that if you really feel the need to tattle."
    lol
     
  30. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    It's good to use humor. Just don't be surprised when one takes it too literal. That's the mark of who they are. Sometimes we gotta keep the humor at their level. I'm sure you are a master at it. This one just got away. We've all done it, even if it didn't get highlighted at the time.:)
     
  31. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I was talking semantics of the language you used to express your idea about where the problem lies. I didn't think you REALLY meant the kids were the problem, but the language you used does suggest that. Isn't that what most of this thread is about. The meaning of language and the perception based on what was said.

    I'm not questioning your ability as a teacher. I don't know you, but we are discussing language and much of language's sublties are at the heart of disagreements.

    Speaking of sublties of language. I need your help here.
    Please explain how, "I know your moms are taking lots of tyenol to put up with this nonsense" means "Elmo, you need to worry about Elmo's problems and let others worry about their own". I'm not seeing the literal translation you say is there.
     
  32. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Thank You very much.

    As for a2z asking who the comment would be funny to. It would be funny to me as the teacher and to the students in the class who don't cause problems and are also tired of the kids that cause the headaches and their actions. It is funny, but also serious.

    My students though know that I joke with them quite often. So much of what is said I get laughs from. Then there are the times when I am jsut frustrated and in a not so good mood with students, the comments I make at those times are not meant as funny, but serious.
     
  33. TiffanyL

    TiffanyL Cohort

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    I think it depends a lot of the age of the child.

    If someone told my 4th grader that her mother must need to take a lot of tylenol because of her....I'd be pretty darn ticked off.

    But...if someone said that to my 11th grader, I'd understand a bit more....and so would my 11th grader....he would laugh at it, I'm pretty sure.
     
  34. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    I had no idea what I thought was pretty much harmless nonsense would go viral. Elmo was the little fella that never shuts up.
    He is always telling others what to do. This raises anxiety levels all around. Thus the need for tylenol or some generic. Btw his mom admitted on the phone he could be a pain in the #&& ( i am paraphrasing here). Maybe she uses prepH instead if that is the case.
    Is it Friday , or better yet, JUNE?
     
  35. Dynamite Boys

    Dynamite Boys Companion

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    This made me laugh out loud! I think it all depends on your audience; it simply goes back to age! I teach middle school and have students who would totally laugh and get what I'm saying. I have a few other students who I could never get away with using sarcasm. They aren't cognitively able to understand it! While I find your comment completely funny I think remembering the difference between middle school/high school and elementary humor is the key! As someone else mentioned . . . if my K or 1st grader came home saying that I would question what was going on. However, if my middle schooler or high schooler came home with that comment I would laugh and ask what they were doing to warrant such a comment!
     
  36. indigo-angel

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    I'm on the fence with this one. On the one hand, the comment was funny. On the other hand, it's funny because there's a lot of truth in it.
    If the kid really is a "headache" to the parent, that would hurt the kid's feelings and the parent would feel like you are picking on her child who she knows is a "headache."

    I know that kids sometimes go home and tell their parents untruths about their teachers, but kids also come to school and tell untruths about their parents. It sucks for a parent to come up to the school to deal with a lie/exaggeration that a student told them, but it's also bad when we judge parents negatively and sometimes get other parties involved when kids lie/exaggerate things about their parents.
     
  37. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Funny comment.

    Must be harder to make funny comments like that in PE because you have so many kids in there and aren't completely sure of whether the kid likes to spin things to his parents or gets truly offended or truly doesn't get it and gets his feelings hurt.

    There are certain kids I don't make comments to because of the above. I know who would get the humor and who would not.

    Look at the reaction to your post. It runs the gamut from "That was funny," to a stiff-backed offended dressing down to "eh". My feeling is, now you know never to make a funny comment to this particular kid. It will get twisted into what it wasn't, or there will be an overreaction.
     

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