Saturday, February 9, 2008

Teachers Are People Too

Yes, students harrass their teachers. It's happening to me. You might think that they are just kids, but it can be very damaging to a person's psyche to have a constant barrage of disrepect.

My car has been tagged.
My classroom door has been graffittied with epithets directed at me.
Students have written out detention slips to me saying I'm a shitty teacher.
Graffitti has been left in other places in my classroom saying that I'm a fatass.
My computer has been hacked.
Students answer back and disrespect me.
A student swiped my keys when I took her soda away from her.
Students spread lies about me and then report me to the principal.
Students have threatened to get me fired.

If these were adults, this would be considered to be mobbing. However, because they are children, they are excused or dismissed. It is only considered serious when students attack each other. Children who engage in these behaviors often grow up into adults who continue to engage in these behaviors.

Teachers have feelings too. We don't get into teaching to become the enemy to our students. We are distressed that they make us the enemy. We wanted to teach to help students, because we love what we know and we want to teach it to others.

Teachers are people too! Please be kind to us!

For more on community-based harrassment:

March 16th--Just an update, things are going better. It's like I have some kind of initiation into the schools where I teach. Now they tell mw about the teachers they REALLY hate.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Stressful Times

Children and education has changed. Violence colors the way we look at things. Accidents happen. And one day this week, it all happened on my campus!!

I was testing a student on the piano when the principal came to the room and asked to speak with me. I thought I had done something wrong. I had just sent an email about a legal issue. But it wasn't that. My principal is a fair and forthright guy. He's always at an even keel, but he was clearly distressed as he informed me of some bad news. "The captain of the football team from last year was shot and killed visiting his uncle in the neighboring town." I covered my mouth because it was hanging open. How could this be? Two Mexican girls had been shot by some Black guys in another neighboring town just last week. Gangs seem to be everywhere.

"The news leaked this morning around nine. I don't even care about finals. Give everyone an incomplete. Counselors are available and if anyone needs to go, you can send them." I made a quick descision. "Dr. M, I don't think any of these students know, so I'm just going to keep it quiet. They can find out later." I looked on my students and thought, let them enjoy their innocence and sense of safety for just a little bit longer. This time its someone they all knew.

I was glad I had told my next class that I was not going to be having a final and that I would count it as a regular absence if they could get it excused with their parents. Wink, wink. It was easier for me if they weren't there because I have so much to do. Several students went home early anyway because they were in shock. I let any of them who wanted to use my phone to call home to be picked up do so. They needed to feel safe.

So much for feeling safe. The high school students left for lunch with a warning announcement to go straight home and not hang out at any other high schools. Meanwhile, junior high kids were stuck there for the duration of a regular school day. An accident on the highway had us keeping the PE field clear so they could land a helicopter to airlift the injured driver to the hospital.

If that weren't enough for one day, I discovered we were in lockdown when I sent a student to the bathroom. I stayed calm and called the office to find out exactly what that meant for us (I don't hear any announcements in my room) and if we would be changing classes. It just meant that nobody could go to the bathroom, something that many of these students wait until my class to do. The students, freaked out, of course. PE was cancelled for the afternoon, the gates were locked, and the students did their best to remain calm. I tried to make it business as usual so they would have no idea how scared I was.

Then I found out WHY we were in lockdown.
"Did you hear about the letter?"
"What letter?"
"Someone dropped off a letter in the office threatening to do a driveby on the school in revenge for what happened the other night."

One of my students said, "I hate this, it makes our town seem so ghetto."

I couldn't agree with her more. I just want an end to this senseless violence. Whereever people move to get away from gangs, the gangs follow anyway. When will it stop?