Wednesday, April 26, 2006

you will respect my authority!

Every teacher has one of those students that tries their patience, day in and day out. This year, it's Space Cadet. I've had several run-ins with him already this year, and more than a few meetings with his parents (who are aware of his issues and very supportive of my classroom behavior policy).

The biggest problems I've had with him are defiance, work avoidance, disrespectful attitude toward authority, and very heated temper tantrums when he is corrected or disciplined. When Space Cadet is corrected, he starts shouting things like, "It's not fair!" or "You ALWAYS get me in trouble" or "They don't let you do ANYTHING at this school!" Never mind that he was talking instead of working, or sliding across the floor on his knees, or pushing kids in the coat closet. It's always my fault, not his. Sometimes these tantrums are accompanied by crying fits, during which his face turns bright red and he screams and pounds his fists on the nearest surface. Twice he had nosebleeds during a tantrum. That was a real hoot.

Yesterday he decided to lose his hearing. It was math time, and I had asked all the students to take out their books. He was, as usual, the only one not doing what I asked.
"Space Cadet, take out your math book," I said, trying to be patient.
(Continues coloring/drawing/staring into space.)
"Space Cadet!"
"What?" he answers.
He stared at me. "Geez, you don't have to yell at me!" he said.

And that went on all day.

This morning I was at my desk, finishing attendance and lunch count, and sending kids to the rug to get ready for literacy centers. I heard Space Cadet chattering away to his on-again, off-again buddy. I let it go for a minute, but then their discussion started to get heated. I gave a general verbal warning first: "Okay, ladies and gentlemen... this isn't the time to talk." He continued with the conversation.

I stepped it up a notch. "Space Cadet - that's enough."
SC: "I have to tell Buddy something."
Me: "No you don't."
SC: "Yes I do!" Continues talking to his buddy.
Me: "Space Cadet! This is NOT the time to talk!"
SC: "I just gotta tell him something! Man, you're ALWAYS interrupting me!"

Wait a second... how exactly did this become my fault?

I just want to know when it became the norm for 7-year-olds to speak to adults like they were their peers. Not only speak to them, but argue with them and contradict their authority. It's frustrating. And it's so very, very difficult not to stoop right down to their level and argue back. (This year I've come to realize the value in taking a deep breath and counting to ten before speaking...)

And in other news... my site counter hit 10,000 today! Wow! If you're reading this, drop me a comment. I want to know who's out there!


MsAbcMom said...

I am here and I HEAR you about defiant kids!!!

Keep on writing...


katie said...

I'm a first grade teacher too! and I definately relate to defiant kids. I have 4 girls that wander around the school at recess time and come in 20 minutes late from recess. They don't even care when they have to go to the office, which is obvious by the holding hands and skipping down the hallway! They laugh when I ask them what they were doing!

Mike in Texas said...

I am constantly amazed by the lack of manners and lack of respect kids show. Although I've been teaching for 13 years it seems to have become especially worse in the last two years.

A couple of weeks ago I had to babysit the kids who had special test accomadations on the state mandated tests after they finished. Several thought it was perfectly OK to sit down at my desk and start looking in the drawers.

GuusjeM said...

We've got a crop of those too- we are counting the days till one especially obnixious "I can't hear you" kid moves on to middle school. 20 days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

elementaryhistoryteacher said...

Have you watched,really watched any tv lately....especially the shows on Nick, etc. Cute little quips, making fun of parents, etc. are all the norm. Kids don't seem to even realize they are doing anyting wrong. In fourth grade we usually include the students at parent conferences. I am shocked at the way students talk to their parents and shocked at the parents for allowing their children to speak to them in any such manner. My father would have thrown me across the room----in fact he still would if I spoke to him disrespectfully.

Dree said...

You know, I'm familiar with the names of the shows my students watch, but I've never really seen them. But I know how kids in sitcoms always make snide remarks to their parents and make them look stupid.

I've heard the way my first graders (and students in other grades) talk to their parents. That would have been (and still is, actually) completely unacceptable in my family. It really is upsetting that the parents allow it. Maybe they don't know how to stop it?

Late Nighter said...

I am out here! and I am curious: how did you reply to his smart ass comment about YOU interrupting HIM?

Anonymous said...

I am really disappointed with school systems in general. While there are many good and caring teachers out there, there are many more who do not seem to care about the students at all. Teachers do not take into account that children learn differently or are perhaps many times restricted in the various teaching methods they are allowed to use. I absolutely hate our standardized testing policies! For several months before the tests, that is all the teachers teach! I happen to have a bright son, who gets new material usually the first time it is presented to him. So, after the 100th time, he can no longer take it. Come on, what adult would even be able to spend 4 weeks 'learning' something they already know. When my son tries to entertain himself out of boredom, he is the one doing something wrong. I think the teachers are wrong for putting children in this predicament in the first place--if a child gets it, let them do something else. To the person who is 'counting down the days' till a certain student moves on--shame on you! You guys are there to teach ALL the students! Not just the ones who always sit quietly and always get good grades. Instead of taking responsibility that perhaps you are not doing a good job, you blame the student. You are an adult, this is a child....You are supposed to help them.

Anonymous said...

A defiant student doesn't necessarily have learning problems. I, too, teach 1st and 2nd (combo) grades, but I've taugh the older grades, as well. Seems there's no end to their rudeness. They have no fear. In fact, a suspension is just a nice little vaction. Most are great kids, but wish we could expell the others. They don't seem to want to be there anyway. Their parents seem only to want a holding cell for their offspring.