I’d like you to view these two videos. The first is a student body slamming a teacher because he took his cell phone from him during class. The second is a news report of a principal who was assaulted by a student for removing their headphones, once they refused to lower their music.
Video #1: https://youtu.be/r1kWyl-vJQM
Video #2: https://youtu.be/VY2aTWGJ9q4
What are your thoughts? Who’s side are you on? The student or the educators? I ask because this is a common occurrence at not only my current school but the district I work in. Matter of fact, this is a common occurrence within the U.S. Teacher abuse whether verbal or physical is REAL. Yet, we seldom speak about it. When a teacher has unjust behavior towards a student, it’s all over the news. Careers are ended, actions are punished and supports are provided for the victim. But, what happens when the shoe is on the other foot? Who shows up for the educator/s being abused by students? Who looks out for their well-being, or social-emotional health? What supports are put in place to support their ability to educate and care for students who clearly deal with some form of trauma?
I ask because I witness teacher abuse daily and where I can definitely agree with students perceptions that most educators have a tendency to escalate maladaptive behaviors by engaging in a power struggle with students (for example touching a student to retrieve headphones), it doesn’t make this abuse okay AT ALL.
A similar incident occurred at my school site this past week. One of my student’s whom I have a positive relationship with attacked another teacher during 6th period. According to both adults and students who witnessed the incident, my student and three other students were hoping the fences during P.E. My student was the last to jump the fence and his P.E. teacher caught him in the act and proceeded to stop him by grabbing his foot. As the teacher held on to the student’s foot, the student yelled to “let me go” with multiple obscenities. Once he got back on the ground, he continued to use profanities towards his teacher and the educator then said: “What the f**k are you going to do about it”? At this point, my student charged his teacher and socked him in the chest multiple times before security and one administrator was able to pull him off of the adult. The police were called and he did not attend school on Friday, however, we anticipate his return this week and based on his school record, this is not the first time an incident like this has happened.
Now, as a teacher who actually likes this student, has a great relationship with them and recently called home to let their mother know the incredible job they are doing in my class. I have a lot of feedback about what went wrong with this interaction. Frist, being the P.E. teacher really should have let him jump the fence and reported it immediately, rather than putting his hands on them. However, I understand their desire to want to intervene and demand students stay in school, seeing as there is a current culture that students get away with murder at my site. Students literally do what they want when they want, with little to no consequence. That being said, a relationship is key and educators can’t get away with certain interactions if they don’t have a students respect.
So what do we do? How do we rectify this? I was able to build a relationship because I learned to pick and choose my battles with this student early on. When he first arrived in my class, it was tough. He refused to work, would sometimes come just to take a nap and I made the choice to allow him to stay and not pick a fight with him as long as he wasn’t disruptive to other students. I would also thank him each day for coming (whether he worked or not) and let him know that tomorrow I looked forward to getting some work accomplished. I also observed his shortcomings. I saw early on that he didn’t write or spell well, so I allowed for him to turn in alternative assignments or offered him support during passing periods, as to not embarrass him in front of his peers. My point, I put up with a lot of crap and made a lot of exceptions until he was able to trust me and hear me, versus being defensive. And I get a lot of teachers don’t have the time or ability to do so, specifically those in general education, as they are outnumbered by the number of students they support daily. I am a special education teacher, who is trained to support students with emotional and behavioral needs and in most classes, I have no more than 18 students at a time. In addition, my training developed through my experiences of 15+ years, not through random professional developments (PD’s) or staff meetings that are generally offered throughout districts to support serious issues as the ones discussed in this blog today.
What are your thoughts? What can we do to support our teachers as well as students in public schools?