When students play the race card

Discussion in 'General Education' started by SouthernBuckeye, Oct 29, 2013.

  1. SouthernBuckeye

    SouthernBuckeye Companion

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    Oct 29, 2013

    I am a white female teacher in a predominantly black school.

    Today, I sent down write up slips on two black boys in my class. Each slip had multiple offenses on different dates on it (school policy requires four documented instances and teacher consequences before it goes to the office, which I followed).

    Apparently they were talked to this morning because they disrupted my class again asking about it.

    I have a white boy in my class that they are *always* bullying. Several of the black boys started asking me why I don't write up the white boy for telling them to shut up, staring at them, etc. They were like "White boy doesn't do his work and you never say anything to him!" (I think their real problem with white boy is that he always does what he is supposed to, plus he is a snitch--he tattletales a lot--which makes the kids dislike him).

    So one of the black boys outright announced "Eh, she just writes us up because we black!" and then they got all riled up.

    How do you handle stuff like this??? Now I feel like I don't want to send anything to the office because evidently it just made them worse! I feel like I'm constantly posting on here about all the problems I am having this year. I have never had so many problems and I am just crying because they don't care about going to the office, if I call parents, if I do rewards/consequences. They talk through all my lessons, call me racist and just don't care. I really am starting to consider resigning because I just can't take this.

    How do you guys handle comments like this? I just kept my cool and continued documenting but...obviously documenting isn't helping anything.

    Also, today one of them picked up a desk and was holding it over the white boy's head and making threats. I called for someone to come get him out (the one that was picking up the desk). But because I called for that child to be removed I am racist. I am starting to feel like this job is awful for my mental health.

    :mellow:
     
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  3. StallionMessiah

    StallionMessiah Rookie

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    Wow, what a tough situation. Unfortunately, there is not a "do this and everything will be alright" answer. As a white male, I have been accused of the same thing, only mine was with Natives as there are hardly any other minorities where I live.

    My number one suggestion is to hold a problem-solving meeting. My district has a very specific format for this type of meeting and yours may have something similar. Basically, you are gathering experienced teachers around you and working on a solution and as you know, many heads are better than one.

    I would also not take comments about being racist personally. It is a hard thing to do, but they are trying to get under your skin and it is probably working. Put on your best poker face and let comments like that wash off of you.

    Keep in mind too that the students have their own problems and might be taking it out on you and the other kid in the class. I have even read some literature that argues that we should rename disruptive behavior as pain-based behavior since they are probably coming from bad situations.

    Finally, consider all problem behavior as an opportunity to teach. In other words, don't miss the teachable moments. When I was accused of being a racist I responded by creating a whole lesson on what racism looks like, the history of it (for my particular group), and what we can do to combat it.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 29, 2013

    ONE time some kids at my school tried it, I forget who the teacher was.

    The dean responded this way:

    I'll need you to give a deposition in front of the school lawyer. The accusation you're making is that a member of our staff violated federal civil rights laws. Why don't you call your parents right now, so they can be here with you as you testify before the lawyer?

    The story changes very radically in the next few moments.
     
  5. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Oct 29, 2013

    That's great, Alice!
     
  6. SouthernBuckeye

    SouthernBuckeye Companion

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    Oct 29, 2013

    This is great! :lol:

    I definitely did keep a poker face. They do what they want to do, so I just write it all down. If I do cry from frustration it is always after the kids leave. However, if writing it all down, then turning it in when I have enough just gets them "talked to" and then they are turned loose to come upstairs and disrupt me even further because they're mad, well, I don't have an answer for that.

    The white boy I was talking about actually has problems completing work, but not because he's off task--he is really focused but he is a very slow worker. The black kids were trying to say that he should get written up because he doesn't finish either. But I'm not going to write up a child for not finishing if they are on task and doing their best, and the black kids I wrote up were not! It just as easily could have been white kids though (I mean in the past, it has been...)

    However, before I left today I talked to my principal in the hallway and she said the boy that picked up the desk is now suspended. He had also said things like "I am going to throw you over the guard rail" to the white student. Not that it matters, but my principal is black. So I don't think he could sit in her office and try to call her racist for handing out a consequence! My principal then further stated that I am doing an excellent job with documenting and to keep it up because her goal is to move him to the self-contained behavior class by the end of the second marking period. It's only taking care of one, but that's going to be a step in the right direction.
     
  7. StallionMessiah

    StallionMessiah Rookie

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    Oct 29, 2013

    "her goal is to move him to the self-contained behavior class by the end of the second marking period."

    This is part of the problem with many schools. They are reactive instead of proactive. Why do we have to wait for a student to mess up badly before offering any type of help? I don't know this particular student so I could be way off, but I am guessing that he does not have many, if any, positive relationships with adults.

    If the principal thinks that a self-contained behavior class is the answer then I suggest reading "The Ashley Smith Report." It is from my neck of the woods and outlines a very tragic story of a girl who took her own life while incarcerated after years of self defeating actions. It basically outlines what happens to a student who does not respond to our "rules and consequences" system we have in place.

    I would argue that the ONLY way to influence a student like this is to develop a positive relationship with that student. It is only through a positive relationship with that student that we have a hope of influencing the student.

    I would start by asking, "what are the strengths of the student?" and "How can we use those strengths as point of influence?"

    Finally, is anyone asking, "does this student have any mental health concerns?"

    This does not seem like an issue that you can solve alone. By the way, how are the students in question behaving in other environments?

    In our system, which is full inclusion, the resource teacher should be conducting a behavioral analysis to see if the source of the behavior can be uncovered. Basically, what are the antecedents that lead to the behavior? Does the student hate math and trying to disguise inability to do something by behaving badly? What are the slow triggers (home life) and the fast triggers (the here and now) that proceed the behavior?

    As you can see, the answer is not simple and every case needs to be handled individually.
     
  8. Ms.SLS

    Ms.SLS Cohort

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    Oct 29, 2013

    Can you create some sort of expectation chart and have the kids check it off at the end of each class? I've done this in the past with confrontation students like this and it's helped. Use things that are really specific
    *working entire class period
    *listened quietly when others were speaking
    *had all necessary materials
    *turned in/wrote down homework assignment
    *Kept hands to yourself entire class period
    *was respectful/polite to all class members
    etc etc etc.

    That way when they try to say you're being unfair or racist, you can point to the list and show them EXACTLY what they did or didn't do that is causing them to get in trouble.
     
  9. SouthernBuckeye

    SouthernBuckeye Companion

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    Oct 29, 2013

    Yes, we have that, but it was in the form of a behavior contract (which we wrote together, as a class), and then I have a check sheet of who is meeting expectations. However, I have each student's checks next to their student # rather than their name, because the kids I have are the type that would blurt out "LOLOLOLOLOL Johnny Smith only earned one check this week!" and turn it inappropriate. So the student # system lets each student see how he/she is doing without being able to bully other classmates as a result.
     
  10. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    Oct 29, 2013

    This child did not just come into existence and magically pop into this high school classroom. He's probably been a disruptive, uncontrollable student since elementary school. All the things you've mentioned have probably been tried in elementary, middle, and now high school.

    You can't fix every student. You CAN make sure the rest of your class is safe and able to learn.

    You've mentioned many things for the school to do. What should the child and his parents be doing to minimize his terrorizing and disruption? Where is their accountability?
     
  11. SouthernBuckeye

    SouthernBuckeye Companion

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    Oct 29, 2013

    He is actually a 7th grader. In my last contact with mom, she became threatening. So my P had to talk to her.

    And :agreed: about the rest of the class! I am wasting so. much. energy on this child. A lot of good teaching gets lost because I am disrupted so much.
     
  12. dave1mo

    dave1mo Comrade

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    Oct 30, 2013

    We can control what the school does; we can't control what the student and parents do other than setting up appropriate incentive schemes.

    Your post is just a way to avoid being proactive about the solution.
     
  13. GemStone

    GemStone Habitué

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    There are some kids who will always disrupt learning for themselves and others. You can try all the interventions under the sun and still make no difference. Sometimes, a self-contained behavior class is the only resort.
     
  14. peachacid

    peachacid Companion

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    Nov 4, 2013

    Have you tried talking to the students? My students always try to say people are racist, but what they mean is, "I feel that I am being treated unfairly. I have learned that being treated unfairly is called racist. Therefore, this situation is racist." If I had two boys who were saying that another student should be in trouble as well, I would say to them, calmly, "Well, Brent has been sitting quietly and working hard. Have you been doing that? In my opinion, you have not. That is why I am sending you out." If you make sure they understand WHY they are being sent out and the other student is not, you may be able to have a better relationship with the kids.
     

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