Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Think Before Berating

As teachers we need to think before we berate our students for missing homework, not studying or behaving in some bizarre manner.

We have no way of knowing if that boy was up all night listening to his parents loud fights, if that girl sat all night in an emergency room with her mom, or if the twins must work long hours, not for cars, but for shelter and food for their families. Unless someone tells us, we don't know about the young girl barricading her room at night to keep the rats out. We don't know that the family will soon be homeless.

It is hard to get to know our students when there are 34 in a class. I believe most kids want to do the right thing. I'm not excusing the inappropriate behavior but I am looking for reasons for it. Only when we show understanding and compassion can we help our students. Screaming and yelling accomplishes little or nothing.


JUSTICE not "just us" said...

AGREED but who show us teachers compassion?

In order to have an environment of understanding and compassion it needs to start with those that run the show.

On a personal I will always try hard to show my students comapssion and understanding but when I am under siege I go into defense mode--it is a human thing.

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

One of my students was completely out of control Monday. When I pulled him aside to ask why, he said his dad had failed to show up to take him out to lunch; Dad opted to go with is mistress instead.

That explained the boy's behavior.

But I told him he was going to have to learn to deal with situations over which he has no control--and acting out in my classroom is not an acceptable way to deal with his hurt and anger at his dad.

I trust I was compassionate. But I will not tolerate chaos in my classroom.

proofoflife said...

You are so right! One of my little boys had to spend almost the whole night at the police station because his parents were on a "crack attack" and "forgot" to pick him up from school.

Taylor said...

God, it's a crazy world. Sad.

But I agree with your point of view completely regarding empathy. Give respect to get respect. Meet needs where possible. The needs aren't usually as overwhelming as they seem. You can't get mom off crack or keep the rats out of their rooms, but you can meet their need for human empathy and understanding, and maybe give them some strength with which to deal with their lives.

Miss Profe said...

True; so many kids are the victims of bad parenting. And, yes,we need to have empathy but we also need to teach them coping skills.

There's a situation at my place of employ in which a child - a ninth grader and one of four children - will not see his Dad this weekend because the Dad has decided that he doesn't want the kids this weekend. The parents are separating. So, now Mom has to take all four kids to the oldest daughter's horse show in PA when she had only planned on taking the oldest daughter. Lord, Have Mercy.

moriah said...

You are right, of course, but sometimes it's hard to remember to be caring and compassionate--for instance on Friday, a kid brought in a little packet labeled "Personal Lubricant for Condoms" and proceded to smear it all over his hands, his desk, himself, and his "teammates". I know it's only vaseline, but yuk. Is there some sad story behind his behavior? Probably.

It's kind of funny now--but believe me--I wasn't laughing then.

Pissed Off said...

I agree that it is hard to be sympathetic when they are driving you crazy, but, when a kid opens up and you hear some of their horror stories, it throws a different light on things. I don't think we should ever accept these outlandish behaviors yet we should be aware of what is causing them and try to be empathetic.

Ms. Tsouris said...

I'm a firm believer in finding out a little about a kid first. I have an initially semi rebellious female student I met just about three weeks ago after a phone call to the aunt, who calls herself the girl's guardian. The girl has to work as a waitress. She's 17 and in the 9th grade. Why? Because she was living back in "her country" in the Caribbean and didn't go to school for a couple of years. I almost cried when I found out about her situation. Now, she tries to do the homework and tells me "Look, Teacher, I tried it and my sister helped me". My heart is heavy for this girl, I wonder how she'll ever be able to graduate, since she is learning disabled on top of apparently severe family problems. But she's trying, and I tell kids over and over again to just try it and I'll work with you. These kids are poor,some are underage and work off the books, their families are either in tatters or don't exist, so how can school really be a priority? I learned long ago never impose my value system on someone else whose values are different since that's how they've learned to live. I accept them and then try to give them support. Very often, they respond to the support and the feelings of acceptance from a teacher instead of harsh judgement. It has worked for me with students in the past, and still does.

Anonymous said...

Amen! I've had a new boy in my class. He freaked on Monday. My para said he'd tell the one in charge that day (AP was thankfully out) to send someone. I said I thought I had it...and worst case I'd sent the oldest girl down the hall for help. And I did...because I just reassured him I wasn't going anywhere, wasn't giving up on him. Why'd this work? He's just been taken from his family and put in foster care. He just needed to know that someone really cared and wasn't gonna throw him to the wolves. I don't think I've ever been so proud of myself teaching as when I called the person in charge and said "I don't need anyone up here. He's fine."