02 August 2011


A friend posted this online and I thought that it was an excellent demonstration of the principle of listening to students. Mind you, it's a demonstration and in no way am I advocating teachers feeling as though they need to subject themselves - and their students - to a big long string of cuss words constantly. I think the point the teacher was trying to get across was that when students feel respected, they are far less likely to cuss and act badly. There is cussing in the video, but I thought it was well-done and helpful. How often have I as a parent been focused on the disrespect I've received from a child rather than the actual complaint? Let's just say that I don't always employ the "listening nicely and respectfully" method. Sorry. But I would like to do it more often.


  1. My two cents worth--

    While the teacher responding to the student's behavior with anger and defensiveness and making it about his ego was unacceptable, there is a much better middle ground that does not come across like the teacher is submitting to the behavior. The words, "I'm going to treat him like a friend," kind of horrified me. He's not his friend--he's his teacher and there has to be a difference. Caring for a student is not being a doormat. In the second video, the man actually seemed to back pedal and seemed more concerned with whether the kid liked him and got what he wanted than with the kid's behavior.

    What a kid gets out of this is his anger is powerful and he can get what he wants if he is intense and loud enough (Ever known a grown man like this? Did you like them? Me either). We do children (especially teens) no favors by ignoring how they speak to us. In the adult world, people get fired for talking to bosses like this and are shocked when other adults don't put up with it. Just ask a McDonald's manager sometime about how often they see this these days.

    It is better to strike preemptively and have classroom ground rules concerning respectful dialogue and anger management (and it's even better if the students have a say in creating those rules). That way your response is not a surprise--which is often part of a kid's anger.

    It is perfectly acceptable to say, "I can see that you're upset and I
    am interested in helping, but you're going to have to find better words. Do you need to take a little time to find them or do you think you can manage it right now?"

    If it escalates, then the teacher can invite the student to depressurize on his own in a seat away from everyone else or go to the principal's office (also in the rules set out ahead of time).

    You can be calm without being a doormat and express caring without giving into the behavior.

  2. There is ten cents' worth here, Mary! :)

    I think your analysis of finding that middle ground is very true. The video examples seem a bit extreme in the knee-jerk reaction to swearing and the "well, how can I help you" posture in the second video.

    It would be nice for all of us to TRY to err on the side of friendliNESS. It would simply be inappropriate for the teacher to be a friend to the student. I did take it to mean making the classroom environment one of friendliness.

    I also see a lot of swearing out there and can't say I've never done it myself. It's all in which words are said when and in what context. "This vacuum sucks!" may well be a legitimate customer complaint, and the person at the service desk can't just shut down when she hears that... same with teachers to a certain degree.

    Mind you, when someone comes up to the service desk and starts using cuss words left and right and is belligerent, good luck getting your complaint resolved.

  3. He didn't feed the monster in the second example.He kept his emotions in check and came back with reason.

    I wish I could be that grown up with my son. I NEVER want to lose him, ya know?

    But Mary is right, too. If you have a plan in place, you are more "predictable", and probably trustworthy to a child who has trouble keeping his emotions in check.

    Something to think about.

  4. I like both points of view. Yes, the teacher could've been less naggy and at least listened but then the kids went too far in his disrespect towards his teacher. In the second video the teacher listened well but went on the super duper overly soft side. But I see the point you are making. :D Us women tend to over analyze a blogger trying to just talk about an issue.


Non-troll comments always welcome! :)