When a Student Calls you a Sh**ty Teacher.

The other day, a student said, “This is a sh**ty class and has a sh**ty teacher!” That was after I wouldn’t let him start a fist fight in class and let him know I would have to speak with his mother about the incident. I sent him to the office to calm down and let them know that he could come back when he was calm. He did not come back that period. I sent an office referral note to the office so they would know about the threat of violence in the class.

I did speak with his mother that evening and asked her what strategies she uses at home to help him calm down when he is really angry. She said they use SNAP. Stop Now and Pause. The idea is to stop what you are doing, pause for a moment and think. She also suggested he could stand outside the classroom to calm down, where I could see him (so he didn’t wander away). I thanked her and said I would talk with him the next day. She also said she would speak with him that evening.

The next day, I went to his homeroom (I’m the music teacher) and spoke with him. I started by saying I didn’t get to hear what had happened yesterday as I was making sure everyone was safe and asked if he wanted to tell me what happened. He did tell me and said that he was going to hit the other student and felt he had done really well not hitting him. I agreed. I also let him know I would speak with the other student and I would make sure they were not sitting near each other in class from now on.  I told him what his mother and I had discussed and asked if he felt that was a good strategy and if he could do that. He agreed it was a good plan. I also let him know that I knew what he said was because he was mad and I was not upset about it. I reassured him that I really liked him. That was the end of our meeting.

When I was a younger teacher, this would have really upset me. Now, I laugh when students say things like this (not at the time, but later, when I’m telling the story to friends). It’s not true. Also, they are really mad and usually not at me and have difficulty expressing it well. Lots of adults have difficulty expressing their anger well!! Perhaps this was not the perfect way to handle it. I could have given a consequence for the swearing or asked for an apology. However I was happy with how it went. I felt the student and I came to an understanding and left on a good note. I am still improving in my classroom management skills and I felt stopping a fight was a pretty good day, even if there was swearing.

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