My tough week: Dealing with bad student behavior. :(

Well, it’s been a tough week for me so far. Open house was on Tuesday, so I stayed at work until 8PM, my precious iPhone 4 was stolen on Wednesday, and yesterday, vandals wrote on my display case with permanent marker that I cannot wipe off. Argghhhh!!!!!! Add to that the fact that I totally blew my personal commitment to blogging daily, and you have a recipe for a pretty frustrated teacher. Although I have not blogged daily as I wanted to, I am not going to beat myself up too much about it–I have been blogging way more often than my monthly posts of the past, so I’m satisfied with my efforts so far.

I'm caught inthe Matrix!

The illusion of a perfect classroom
When you walk into my classroom, you will see that I have a pretty nice layout (I took photos, but they’re on my stolen phone :S). From the outside looking in, I have it all, technology, plenty of space, seating for cooperative learning ( i.e. tables and chairs instead of desks) and just an overall comfortable setup. People who enter my classroom are typically impressed by the homey feel of it all. Nevertheless, even this environment can be marred by a culture of dishonesty, insensitivity and downright cruelty. The worst part about this week for me was seeing the reactions of my students when I told them about my missing phone and the vandalism of my stuff. There were a few kids who were not happy about what I told them, but more laughed and joked about my bad luck. This was very discouraging, especially since I feel like I go out of my way to respect my students and give them the best classroom environment possible. It was like being in the Matrix. Here I was, going about my daily routine, thinking that my efforts to create a great classroom community were working, and all the while there was a negative culture thriving right beneath the surface that supported and even rewarded the worst type of behavior– stealing, defacing and enjoying the misfortune of others. Despite my efforts, many of my students are committed to boldly being their worst selves, regardless of who is hurt or let down in the process.

Why I smile
Although I am super-disappointed and upset about the things that have taken place this week, I still have the determination to keep being a great educator in spite of all that has happened. I think I get it now, though. I now understand why many teachers give up–it can be really hard to keep challenging yourself and fighting the good fight for your students when they seem to be sabotaging your efforts at every turn. Nevertheless, I think that what I do is more needed than ever in the context of negative student culture. I wonder if some of my students get that you don’t have to be infamous to make a name for yourself. That being known for giving is far more fulfilling than being feared as a taker. Or, that helping others feel good is way more fun than hurting people’s feelings. I will keep smiling and letting my light shine if for no other reason than to show my kids that even through adversity, I will continue to be the person I want to be, unmoved by the negative actions of others. Their abuse is no excuse for me to be less than awesome. Maybe they’ll realize that they do not have to succumb to the pressure to act ugly towards me and each other if they see that I will not change who I am in the face of their mistreatment.

Besides, tomorrow is Friday, and then it’s Labor Day weekend! Woo-hoo! See you tomorrow!

2 thoughts on “My tough week: Dealing with bad student behavior. :(”

  1. Hi,

    I enjoyed your blog post and felt empathy for your situation regarding the stolen iPhone and defaced property. I am an instructional coordinator at an alternative school near Washington, D.C. and we see a LOT of bad behavior. I just wanted to commend you regarding your positive attitude and clean-slate philosophy regarding your students. I’m going to share your blog with teachers in my building.

    Have a great year!
    Alaiyo Kiasi

  2. I once had a student steal $60.0o from my purse. I worked at a middle school at the time and it was my first experience with any child stealing something of significant monetary value (I’ve had magazines and small prizes) taken. My motto became “If I’m not okay with it being stolen, I don’t bring it to class or I make sure it’s locked up.” I realized that children are just that, children, and are currently working on developing character and the best way to solidify those lessons are through modelling appropriate behavior. A teacher I worked with once had her car stolen by a student! Unfortunately, theft happens but it’s important that we model for children a mature reaction to such behavior. Remember, a teenager’s pre-frontal cortex is not fully developed, even as late as high school, so many important decisions are made based on emotion rather than reason. Continue to build positive community with your class; many times we think our students/children are not hearing our words but they internalize more than you know. I’m so glad you didn’t let this ugly incident color your attitude! Keep your head up! Continue to do great work!

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