Discipline, Dealing, and Diplomacy

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Today was a very interesting day. I have learned a lot about discipline, dealing with parents diplomatically, and school bureaucracy all at once!

I have a student who constantly tests limits with me. He often refuses to work when I am teaching and he is outwardly disrespectful in class. Today, he decided to see if I really meant it that he had to be attentive during class presentations. He tends to blurt out whatever he is thinking whenever he wants, and today was no exception! He was talking over the presenters and I asked him to stop twice. Then, he decided that it would be fun to wave his arms around over his head while another person was presenting. I asked him to please go out into the hall until he could compose himself.

He went, and I waited through another presentation before going out there to check on him. When I went out there I asked him if he was ready to rejoin the class without being disruptive, and he said that he wasn’t. I told him to take a couple of more minutes to get his bearings and then to come inside.

Well, when I went back inside, he decided it would be fun to turn circles in the hall, waving his hands above his head. I ignored him, thinking that he was just trying to get attention from me. Then, he put his face up to the classroom window and mouthed profanity at me. At that point, I had no choice but to write him up. Now, I’ve never had to do this before, and I really didn’t want to. But it’s school rules.

So, while the rest of the class went to a spirit assembly, I talked to the student and we went to call home. This is where the diplomacy kicks in. We called his mother, and when I explained what had happened to her, she got angry with me. She told me that her son had never before been any trouble in class (which I find very hard to believe) and that it must be something I have done. I assured her that I had only reacted to what had happened on the student’s end and that I had given him several chances to be an active part of the class. Then I let her know that he had been written up and that she would need to sign and return the form. She told me that she would sign it only if the student’s story corroborated with my own. I also told her that he would have detention the following morning, which is the time the student chose to serve it. She got angrier and assured me that she would be calling me once she had spoken to her son. I offered to let her speak with him over the phone, but she declined. I ended the call by letting her know how to reach me and to please contact me if she had any more questions.

This entire scenario really bothered me! When did we get to the point where teachers are to blame for student behavior? When I was a kid, if I had gotten in trouble for doing something at school I would have been nailed for it! But now, the student decides to make a poor choice, and the parent blames me? It’s ludicrous. I am further reminded that there is a social shift happening (that has been happening for decades) in the way kids are parented. Parents no longer trust and respect that educators are doing their best. This bothers me on a level I can’t even express.

Anyway, I digress. The student will be coming in (I hope) to serve his detention tomorrow morning, so we will see if his mom chooses to contact me about it. I almost hope she does. It is an interesting social experiment, to say the least.

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4 responses »

  1. Way to go! Stick to your guns because you are absolutely in the right. Just a word of caution: When talking to a parent, make no judgments (he has a bad attitude, for instance). Stick to the facts and try to be as objective and unemotional as possible. If the parent seems unreasonable, don’t meet with her alone. Request that your supervising teacher or an administrator be there in any conferences you set up. It sounds like you handled this situation very well. Parents can be very intimidating; don’t take it personally.
    Keep up the good work!

  2. Wow! What a parent! No wonder her son acts so disrespectfully in the classroom, more than likely she has no control or respect on the home front. Don’t worry about her or her disrespectful son. He’s the smart-ass who you give a grade too!
    In any case, it sounds like you dealt with the student in a swift and calm professional manner. Kudos!

    • I’m not so sure his actions have anything to do with her response to me, actually. I really think he’s just testing limits with me. I’m hoping that with the right redirection, his behavior will change. He’s a good kid, just trying his luck goofing off with a new teacher. I am convinced writing him up helped him to understand where my limits are.

      By the way, thanks for the comment, but who is this?

  3. Danna, love, you handled this the only way you could. I’m glad that you’re being reasonable about it and realising that he’s probably not a really bad kid! I think it’s a good idea to have someone higher up with you if you have to meet with the mom. Hang in there, you’re doing great!

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