Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Who is really in charge here

We should almost never lose control of our classrooms.  We should never surrender our power as classroom leaders.  We are more mature, more experienced, better trained, and have more common sense.  And yet, time and time again we allow ourselves to get caught up in power struggles with students.  We cannot win a power struggle with a mind that is in an irrational state.  Have you ever been able to reason with an angry teenager?  Then why do we allow them to taunt us into the fight with disrespectful language, personal attacks, and affronts to our personal authority?  Why do we respond to a rude comment with a counter attack like: "What did you say to me young lady?"; "Nobody talks to me like that and gets away with it!"; "You can just get yourself down to detention!"; or, the crown jewel, "Get out of my class and never come back!".  The message to the student is simply, "I don't have the tools, the experience, or the patience to deal with you."  I surrender.  I cannot teach you.  Sadly, this is the response that most at-risk students expect and usually get.  Even more sadly, this is often the experience they have at home as well.  Parents emotionally check out, give up, withdraw from the lives of
these young people.  They deserve more from us.  Next time there is a student outburst, consider this response, "I care too much to send you away.  I will overlook your outburst for now if you will sit down and try to get back to work."  Don't ignore what happened.  Deal with it when all have had the chance to consider the consequences of their words and the ramifications of their actions.

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