My teaching world is completely upside down...

Discussion in 'General Education' started by riverdance85, Mar 28, 2014.

  1. riverdance85

    riverdance85 Rookie

    Apr 7, 2013
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    Mar 28, 2014

    This week surely has been long!

    I am a third year HS Spanish teacher (and young).

    Our school runs on a semester basis, so I've had my three classes since January. We meet everyday. I have had terrific classes up until now, but things really have gone downhill.

    It all started Wednesday, when the students started 'quitting' on me. They started to complain about the amount of work I had assigned them... no big deal- but when a student started one of her gimmicks (sneezing really loud), I called her out on it. The rest of the class defended her. Later that day her mom called the principal and told him that the loud sneezing was an issue with the family. I hardly believe that (as she only did it to get attention before). So, I was forced to apologize. I am afraid to defend myself because administration has defended parents rather than teachers before.

    This is my second year in this school, and while things have gotten better, what happened yesterday and today was upsetting. I had assigned a notebook check this week and while I had given the students plenty of heads up, half of them were still unprepared. I had plenty of students blow up on me because I had to take off points for missing sections and for turning them in late! I end up cutting more slack to avoid angry parents and making the students hate me. I strive so hard to make myself approachable. I cannot find a way to be strict without appearing mean to them. All that has to happen is for me to appear mean to a student, student tells mom, and mom calls the principal. Principal sends me an email to apologize to mom and the student. If I defend myself, chances are (based on past experiences) the principal will defend the parent. It also appears that he doesn't like me (he is very distant). Furthermore, I teach Spanish and so since the subject I teach is not a core subject, it seems that he isn't as concerned about what goes on in my class as opposed to a core class.

    What happened today really brought me down. My 'best' class had turned a 180. I had them in groups and found that some of them (even the previously perceived good students) have started to 'give me the bird' behind my back. What happened? Was I too nice to them? I would let some things slide and laughed with their jokes (the clean ones). I will now start being extra vigilant!

    I was also asked by a student if I had a girlfriend in high school. I didn't answer his question, but the reason why I brought this up is because I was born with a syndrome that affects my physical appearance, so that may also be a factor. I am also partially deaf and I wear a hearing aid (the kids don't know). Do you think my looks can affect the way a student will me?

    At the end of today, another student asked me if I liked teaching high school. I answered, "of course!" Then she went on to say: "Yeah, but students are so disrespectful!" That moment I thought about why she asked me the question in the first place. Students have been making comments about me and what happened this week... I am really down! Monday, I know I will be walking in that school with a different attitude. I really thought things were going well! I've always know that the HS student can be disrespectful, but today was a tough one for me.

    One last piece of the story- I am reluctant to write referrals because admin has ripped them up before (they were all for disrespect). They don't always punish the students for their wrongdoing! That is why I can't just send them out. I can call them out on their behavior, but that helps very little. They continue to snap at me and put themselves over me. What causes them to be be so disrespectful? I don't know. I always show them respect; timely feedback, please, thank you, ma'am, sir, fair amoutn of work, etc... Am I too nice to them? Do I cut too much slack? I find it so hard to draw the line... I can't defend myself! I seems that I have very little control!

    Like I said, things had been going great since January. I also realize that the end of the quarter raises stress levels. What should I do? Is there anybody else that has had the same experience? What would cause 'good' students to start behaving so disrespectfully, all of the sudden? Thank for your time in reading this and I appreciate any guidance and support.
  3. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

    May 8, 2008
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    Mar 28, 2014

    I'm not sure how much work you can do with the group this close to the end of your school year, but you might want to start working on your classroom management for next year. That way, it doesn't get to the point that you're writing those referrals for your administrator to turn to confetti.
  4. teacherbatman

    teacherbatman Companion

    Jan 7, 2014
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    Mar 28, 2014

    It could be a bunch of different things, but I have an idea. How much self-respect do you have, and do you think it shows? Most people, especially students, will lack respect for people who don't seem to respect themselves.

    That's just my initial reaction when I hear of people being too nice and then feeling disrespected. I have been that way in the past and occasionally still struggle with it.
  5. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

    Nov 16, 2005
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    Mar 29, 2014

    So sorry for the terrible time you are having. I have no advice. I had the same experience during student teaching. My take was that they did not want to be in any class doing any work. I went back to college and changed my major.
  6. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

    Aug 10, 2010
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    Mar 29, 2014

    I think you need to gain more confidence. If you can't, fake it until you make it.

    The kids are tearing you apart because they see a weakness. Stop worrying about what they think. You can't MAKE them respect you. But you can make them show respect.

    Start by turning the parents around. You won't turn all of them by any means. Some of those parents were the same little snots in high school that their kids are now. Brush them off, roll your eyes and pray that the genes don't get passed down for another generation. But you will get the support of some. The key is to get to them before Damien does.

    The next time a student does something disrespectful, like flipping you off (and YOU see it yourself), assign a detention. Then, at the very first chance, even if you have to miss lunch, call that parent and share what happened. 99% of parents will agree that no matter what has happened in the past, flipping off a teacher is uncalled for. Tell the parent that you have assigned a detention and you would like their support in curbing such behavior in the classroom. Don't get into any long debates, discussions about how kids hate you, nothing. "I'm sure you can understand that such behavior is unacceptable. Johnny has been assigned detention. Would this afternoon or tomorrow work better for your schedule?"
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

    Feb 4, 2010
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    Mar 29, 2014

    I think you're look it at this from a much more negative point of view then you should, because you're in the middle of it. Basically what you said was that you a group that has been great ever since January and during the last 2 days they have been awful.
    That's 2 days vs. months. So celebrate you success during the past few months.
    Because this has been going on for only a couple of days, it will be a lot easier to turn around then if you let it go for a month.

    I had a very similar experience, and somehow I do see a decline in student behavior toward the end of quarter. I know somehow it's my fault, it's probably lack of consistency towards the end, because I relax and think I don't have to keep such a short leash on them. Do you think you've been like that as well? It's hard to tell unless you do some soul searching and / or talk to someone who knows you and your students. (my P is great to point out my little mistakes lol, but it's very helpful)

    These would be my suggestions:
    1. definitely call home. This works for me. I had one parent that hated me (based on what her son lied about me), it took me 2 months, but turned her around. During our last conversation Thursday she invited me to her house, since I know where she lives (I drive by it every day and her son told me where they live). She said to feel free to stop by any time. Lol (obviously I won't do that, but it was great to see the change in her attitude towards me)
    When you call home, it's always good to say positive things, not only negatives. I still have to work on this; I don't want to be the bearer of bad news. You could mention their grades if they're good, if they've been working hard, say things like 'he's been a great student but recently....". that way the parents are more likely to view you as an advocate not an enemy.
    2. pin-point the trouble makers. In a class of 30 you might have just 3-4 that are causing the problems and everyone else just follows. Work them. Talk to them, find out what their deal it, be strict, or offer rewards (whatever works), call home, etc.
    3. be consistent in your expectations and your follow through
    4. don't start off negative Monday morning. Say something like "I know we've been kind of stressed out lately, we've been in school for most of the school year, and we get tired, etc, but let's get back on track and work through this". And that's it. Don't lecture, don't punish, don't nag, be positive. Say 'we' and not 'you', admitting that you're not perfect either (although you're not emphasizing it), and that you're in this together. My P always reminds me of this, because my first reaction would be to 'bring down the hammer and let them know who's boss'. She doesn't know this about me, but I'm sure she knows most teachers would react like this (at least new ones)
    5. If you think it will help, change up your lessons. Maybe make it more structured, lots of independent work, quiet time, etc, but it might be that they need partner work. IF they're going to talk, let them talk, but give them something to talk about.

    A lot of these things can help the disrespect that is going on, because you can't work on disrespect alone. You can't make them respect you, and even if they do, you can't make them show it because you said so. However, you can definitely cut out the obvious disrespect, no cussing, no flipping off, etc, that has to go and can go in a minute. You just need to make sure you enforce the consequence.
  8. joeschmoe

    joeschmoe Companion

    Jan 16, 2012
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    Mar 29, 2014

    I think in order for teachers to become successful, they need to grow really thick skins. Kids can be hateful and mean. If you can't brush it off, it can ruin your day and things can spiral downwards very quickly. Of course it's easier said than done. I realize this but when a kid says something that bothers me, I will still let it bother me to a point where it ruins my day.

    By the way, are you teaching in an upscale neighborhood? I would look to transfer after this year if admins are unsupportive.

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