Is Teaching Supposed to be This Hard?

delinquent police deptSome of my students are very difficult to deal with (er… instruct).

Since I haven’t been a teacher long my first reaction is, “Well, this all must be because of me, I must be the problem.” So I try to be nicer, more accomadating, more helpful, and more patient.

And then I find out they’re having problems in other classes too. Or in some cases, with the law. For instance, one of my more difficult students just got incarcerated. And another – who was also quite trying – just got expelled for gang fighting.

So I guess I’m learning maybe it’s not all my fault. I’m just not used to working with kids who “act out” to the extent some of these do.

Does that mean I should be less patient or less kind with these “problem” kids? Naw, of course not. But it does make me less likely to cut them slack. They need discipline somewhere in their lives and my classroom is a good place to start.

Also… I’ve been amazed at how quickly and dramatically a few rough characters can bring down their peers. The negative influence of even one rebellious student is highly infectious. I never would have believed how poisionous to a classroom a rotten attitude is if I hadn’t seen it first hand.

I’m learning you can’t accomadate their behaviour, you have to CRACK DOWN on it. It’s best for everyone.

Like Dr. Seuss says, “Now my troubles are going to have trouble with me!”

Photo Credit: Juvenile Delinquent

I’ve Really Gotta Go!

Earlier this week in one of my classes a student suddenly out of the blue loudly blurted out,
“Can I get a bathroom pass? I’ve really gotta go!”
“No.” This is my characteristic response. It’s easy for students to ask for hall passes and special privileges but it’s equally easy for me to say no. Which I do. The word “no” is such a wonderful word.

The situation escalated. Wailing. Pleading. Begging. Mercy, just a little mercy, PLEASE!
“If I can’t go to the bathroom right now…! I’m gonna pee all over the floor, right HERE!

Really? Right there? Uh-oh, this was becoming serious. Perhaps even alarming.

“Ok,” I back pedaled. “I’ll give you a bathroom pass. On one condition.”
“Yeah, what’s that?”
“The length of time you’re gone from class to the bathroom is the length of time you get to stay in here after class.”

You know what this girl did when she heard that? I’ll tell you. She let out an agonized cry* and I can’t describe it any other way.

Isn’t the drama in these classrooms amazing?

“So, do you still want a bathroom pass?” I asked.
“No,” she answered, with surprising calm and composure.
That wonderful word “no” again. See? the students like it too.

And she didn’t even pee right there.

*Some elements of this tale have been exaggerated for the sake of a good story