Student refused to wear a mask - did I handle it okay?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by applesnap, Jan 12, 2022.

  1. applesnap

    applesnap Rookie

    May 4, 2014
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    Jan 12, 2022

    In December I took over another teacher’s class when the original teacher went on a leave.

    That teacher let the kids eat in class and wasn’t very strict in general.

    Since returning from winter break I’ve decided that due to omicron, students should not eat in class and should go in the hallway if they need to eat. The day we returned I informed them of this, and I have my admin’s support on it. There are comfy chairs in the halls.

    Here’s an exchange I had with a student today. We’ll call the student Bob (he is 16 or 17 years old.) Bob walked in with food and was not wearing his mask.

    Me: Hi Bob, just like yesterday, if you need to finish your lunch you’re welcome to go sit in the hallway and do so, since while you’re in the room I need you to have your mask on please.

    Bob: No, I am going to eat in here.

    Me: That’s not one of your options.

    Bob: I will be done eating soon, it’s not a big deal, if you wait a couple minutes you will not have to bother me.

    Me: The rule is clear, mask on in here and no food, or mask off while eating in the hall.

    Bob: You aren’t my real teacher anyway so I don’t have to do what you say.

    Me: Ok, I’m not going to argue with you about this anymore.

    I then walk away and pick up the phone, asking for an admin up to speak to the student.

    I know it seems silly but this is the first time in 7 years that I have ever had to call admin up to my room and now I’m paranoid they think I have bad classroom management. I just need some reassurance that I handled this okay and if I didn’t, maybe a suggestion on what I could have done differently.

    Also, “Bob” was mostly respectful when I first took over the class, and is getting more disrespectful now. I think he is annoyed because their last teacher let them do whatever and I am more insistent that they work. So I have had to nag Bob to get work done, and also to wear his mask, to not leave tons of garbage from his lunch on the desk when leaving class, etc. He has just decided he doesn’t like me I think, and I’m not too sure what to do going forward.
  3. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

    Jul 19, 2014
    Likes Received:

    Jan 12, 2022

    You don't need to ask us, ask your administrator. If they balk at backing you up, this may be a leave coverage from hell, and one you might want to reconsider. I suspect that admin will continue to back you, but you need a concrete set of rules about what they will and will not support. If they don't think that eating around you is a problem, then I am sure that will come out. What you do past a finding like that will be strictly up to you.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2022
  4. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

    Apr 29, 2008
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    Jan 13, 2022

    Did admin come up when you called? I think you handled it ok but you could also ask admin what to do in the future (write up, call admin, call parents, etc.).
  5. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Groupie

    Dec 24, 2007
    Likes Received:

    Jan 14, 2022

    First time in seven years? And you are worried? You shouldn’t be worried. You should receive a medal. Backtalk comes in all sorts of flavors - nasty to nice. Student’s goal is always the same; change the agenda from what the teacher wants to what student wants. When you said, “That’s not one of your options” and “The rule is clear, mask on in here and no food, or mask off while eating in the hall” you did an excellent job of sticking to your agenda and not pulled into a birdwalk about something else. Consider pausing, say nothing and just walk away to call instead of “OK, I’m not going to argue about this anymore”. Although a reasonable thing to say, it can be the topic sentence for the student’s last hurrah, “Ooo… big deal! I don’t give a ____ whatever you do!”
    readingrules12 and Tired Teacher like this.
  6. Aces

    Aces Devotee

    Jun 26, 2018
    Likes Received:

    Jan 14, 2022

    From an admin perspective who had to get our resource officer (and a couple more deputies) to come physically remove a student from a classroom today, I think you handled it fine. I mean I don’t really like the idea of students sitting in the hallway eating food (it would be against our policy) but that’s a horse of a different color entirely. If that’s allowed at your school, it seems perfectly fine and reasonable to me.

    Part of our job as an admin is to back teachers up in situations that get beyond them. One incident I personally wouldn’t look negatively on you for it. Even the best teachers need back up sometimes. If it was an everyday thing, with different students, that’s when I’d start getting concerned.

    Unfortunately some students are disrespectful and even to the point of being combative (like the student today). Sometimes it’s not something you did or didn’t do, but a symptom of a larger issue.
    Tired Teacher likes this.
  7. creativemonster

    creativemonster Cohort

    Aug 29, 2006
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    Jan 15, 2022

    The student ratting out the previous teacher for bending what sounds like either a school or district wide policy/rule, does not make it less of a rule. And if it is not a school wide policy - It is a teacher rule - This is still a teacher-set rule. No matter what previous teachers do, have done - when you are teacher for that period, or day, it is your class. It is not like you are making up rules just to push around students. It is a policy that many teachers had even before Covid. It sounds like you handled everything very well. If I were a parent of one of the classmates, I would be appreciative of the teacher that held all students accountable - and did so without making it personal.
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2022
    Tired Teacher likes this.
  8. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Connoisseur

    Jul 31, 2019
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    Jan 15, 2022

    I think you handled the situation fine. I know you did not ask about future events, but 1 thing stands out that I'd try. Since Bob was basically polite at 1st, I think I'd try to reset after he comes back from the office. (Talking to him alone, getting to know him better, and finding some connection with him.) b/c if he does not get better, he will probably get worse.

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