Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Taboo: When Teachers Don't Like Their Students

Listen here to this show.

It's that time of year, when teachers around the country are looking over their class lists, preparing for their first days of school, and often experiencing intense reactions, positive and negative, to the names on their rosters.

Let's face it. Kids have reputations, with their peers, neighbors, siblings, and with school staff. Unfortunately, even when I taught kindergarten, there were kids already known for their "challenging behaviors." From a 30 minute assessment period, as well as comments from their preschool teachers, some kids were already stamped with a big red mark on their placement cards.

Why do I write, "challenging behaviors"  and not "difficult kids?"

My answer is simple: Children are not simply the sum of the behaviors they bring into the classroom. Although we all know this, we don't always seem to remember this when those behaviors threaten to take our class down. We can feel like hostages, victims, and punching bags at times as we try every trick in our book to make headway.

I've been there, trust me. And I'm not saying there are easy answers. No sticker chart, stoplight system, or gummy bear is going to disrupt a pattern of behavior perhaps inadvertently maintained by many others who came before me. There are so many complicating factors and reasons why kids act the way they do!

I'm not saying, "Oh yes, I love them all," in that sweet sappy voice that makes you want to slap me. I do believe, though, that it's our job to find something to connect to, something we can find redeeming, so that we can begin to build a relationship with the student.

We recently talked about this very topic in the Taboo series on BAM radio. When the tough questions came my way, I found myself sounding a bit too idealistic and later a little frustrated that I hadn't spoken up more.
Because of that, I recorded my thoughts afterward on AudioBoo.

I know that I haven't given any easy answers. I wish there were some. But I do believe that talking about this topic is a first step. There are some tactics I employ to find ways to connect to students who are deemed as, "tough." I'll save those for the next post!

So, what do you think? How do you handle the issue of liking students?


Leah Vogler said...

Well said, it is a subject that fascinates me. I run workshops for teachers on effective classroom managment. When we ask teachers to describe the behaviours they find challenging and share it with each other I pre-empt that conversation with "when you share with your colleague you can only discuss the behaviours not who the student is" they find this very challenging. The key factor is it is the behaviours that we find challenging unfortunately some take those behaviours personally and then the issue also is a personal one rather than a behavioural one. Actually putting this topic on the table is the first step of moving forward.

Wm Chamberlain said...

I tell my students we are who we are because of what we do. If you steal, you are a thief. If you hit people, you are violent. The most amazing thing about that is we can change who we are by changing what we do. I appreciate you separating the student from their behavior because they can change and they need to have that pointed out to them.

Joan Young (aka Mancini) said...

Thanks for the comments. Yes, Leah, it fascinates me as well. I think that we can easily take it personally when challenges in our classrooms threaten our feeling of being in "control."
Yes, William, I do agree that kids need to know that the world sees them through their actions. They have the power to change those. I also wanted to include a link to your post but couldn't seem to find it when I posted this. If you'd like me to link to it, I'd love to broaden the discussion with your excellent post.

Sarah3ahary said...

Such thoughtful post, thanks! I have noticed that children take teachers not as human beings but as heartless repressors and afraid of them and don't like study at all. Schools need new vision of teaching where there is less teacher talk and more student talk, teachers create the atmosphere of sympathetic understanding. Very often, when students need essay writing assistance they turn to Aussie Essay Writer and other companies. I believe that kids shouldn't be afraid to confess that they don't know how to fulfill this task and ask for help. Educators must inspire an interest to study and gain new knowledge every day. I think conversation is great way to build relationships between teacher and students!

Unknown said...

This is a big problem of modern education, I think this is one of the main reasons why people do not want to learn something, since there is no necessary approach for everyone and in addition there is dislike of the teacher. You need to enter an additional subject such as an adaptation, this will be useful for students and teachers. I did not like writing essays, I did not like our teacher, who hated us. I always found help on 99papers. Now I do not avoid such problems, but I try to find solutions, since this will remain forever in our education system.

Anonymous said...

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