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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Let's Just Give the Inmates the Key.

I know I've complained about this before, but our many principals in our building need to be aware that they're not helping by aiming to be "friends" with every kid in the building, especially those whose behavior are of greatest concern. I entirely believe that we need to build positive relationships with all kids, no matter how much of an asshole they may be... But we're not doing them any favors by letting them get away with behaviors that would get them arrested or fired outside of school grounds. Theft is theft. Tardiness is tardiness. Assault is assault. Sexual harassment is sexual harassment. Turning a blind eye to all of these in some sort of theatrical show of benevolence is HURTING that child, not teaching them and definitely not helping them.

The problem is that I don't feel I can bring that up to our administrators for fear of being one of the teachers they often talk about publicly who "don't understand kids", "don't care about kids", and should "get out of the profession". If I want my student to learn he can't skip classes, come to classes late, and get caught with pot on him over by an elementary school, I'm doing it because I am concerned for his future, not because I hate kids.

I really think they're failing to step back and imagine if that were their own child. Would they want their own flesh and blood to be caught off of school grounds during school hours with pot and NOT get a consequence? I know the administrators think I'm just being passive aggressive when I include comments such as "Student stated 'Go ahead, write me up, I won't get anything...' " in my referrals for misbehavior, but it's all absolutely true. I'm a terrible liar, TERRIBLE... But I guess because I'm a teacher who is writing referrals instead of dishing out hugs for kids who violently knock over furniture, threaten women specifically, etc. then I'm just a bitch.

I don't feel safe to tell my bosses I DON'T FEEL SAFE. The kids know they can get away with everything and they know we teachers are way down on the list of prioritized individuals in the eyes of our own bosses. You can see it in their smug expressions when they return to class with no consequence. You feel it when a student obviously violates school rules in front of a smiling, embracing principal and all the other students look at you like you're a complete fool for having even tried.

One of my students pointed out the micro-skirt another student was wearing. She watched me walk over to that student, but as I approached her the student showed me her pass that informed me that she had just come from the principal's office on an unrelated matter. I thanked her for the note and walked away. My student asked why she wasn't being sent to the office. I told her the truth.

Similarly, my colleague and half the freshman class noticed the hoochie mamma look a 14 year old was sporting in the hallway. She sent the girl to talk to the principal, who told her it was inappropriate, listened to the girl throw a tantrum, then called her back as she was storming away disrespectfully in order to give her a hug and tell her she could wear that for today.

Those are just a few incidents of late. There are so many more, every class I walk in to I feel more hopeless. How can I begin to teach if the students don't respect my role of authority, as one who enforces what I feel to be right? To be honest, I've almost entirely given up. I mutter "put your phone away", "stop swearing at your peers and teachers", "don't raise your hand to a girl like that", and "you've got to start coming to class on time" almost as many times as I sigh throughout the day. I've written all of those behaviors up and not one of them resulted in a consequence. I guess the principals have what they want. Their discipline numbers to go down. Sadly, grades, standards, and morale will following right alongside them.


programmer craig said...

To be honest, I've almost entirely given up.

It's been a long time since I was a high school student, but I went to a couple schools that were as bad as you describe. Have you considered working at a better school?

calencoriel said...

In this economic climate, that's hardly an option. Every district in our area has cut teachers/staff/etc. and people with jobs are kinda clinging to them a bit righ tnow. If you were to go to a different district, you'd probably find what I found 12 years ago when I moved to what I thought were greener pastures: same shit, different district...

It's also really depressing to read programmer craig's question. I really used to like our school and felt it was the best place ever to work. Now I feel like there's a bit of a tyranny at play with our admin.

Craig said...


If you were to go to a different district, you'd probably find what I found 12 years ago when I moved to what I thought were greener pastures: same shit, different district...

Well, I would agree that if you juts switched to a different school district in the exact same environment that you'd find they have the exact same problems. How about a different state, or a different part of the country? Or if that's not a viable option, a different part of the state at least? I went to schools all over new jersey, and even in a state as small as that there are really great schools with really great students and faculty, and some truly awful ones.

TeacherLady said...

Moving is not an option for me for too many reasons. I'll just ride this out because I'd hate to throw out the baby with the bath water. It's certainly not all bad and not all of the initiatives instituted by our admin. are awful, by any means.. They're just a little pointless if we don't get discipline under control. Once they figure out that you can't just be friends with the kids and that they NEED some consistency and discipline in their lives, things will be much better. Admin. just needs to stop seeing us teachers as the enemy.