This past weekend had an interesting conversation brought up by my son about events that are taking place in the classroom. Mind you that he is in 6th Grade, and we all know what the Middle School atmosphere is like with all of the hormones and maturity changes the students are going through. So it was no surprise as I heard him talk about books being picked up from students’ desks and being dropped onto the floor for no particular reason. For him to add that there are mood swings where individuals are nice one minute, then raising their voice in accusation of students doing wrong the next minute is also not alarming. However, if you learned that these among other actions were perpetrated by the teacher, would this surprise you?
Surprisingly, I don’t believe that most of us would be surprised to learn this, and as a matter of fact, we would all be able to flood our memories of teachers from our past who felt the need to incorporate these tactics into their own classrooms. Is it simply the position of power that allows for these teachers to get away with such action? If a student in the room was to walk around and dump another student’s books onto the floor would this be tolerated? Would it be tolerated for a fellow classmate to voice derogatory remarks and accusations towards students in the class? So why is it tolerated that a teacher be allowed to do so?
There is nothing wrong with having high standards and expectations from students in terms of proper behavior, and I for one, support and encourage it. However, we should not lose sight on the fact that we are talking about kids, and kids are not perfect. There should be an expectation that kids will test the boundaries of the rules, and will also simply make a mistake and break rules at some point. This is an expectation that all teachers, administrators, and parents should have regarding their kids. They should also expect that students who do break the rules need to have consequences for their actions! I believe we all agree with this point.
If you have ever had to present or speak in front of a group of teachers, you have definitely experienced the lack of respect they show upon themselves. Ironically, teachers will be disrespectful, as if imitating their students, by displaying the same behavior they despise from their own students within their own classrooms. If a presenter walked around the room taking the teacher belongings from the tables and dumping them on the floor, how do you think the audience would react? What if the presenter called out an audience member for not paying attention, or for talking during his or her presentation?
So then WHY is a teacher allowed to behave inappropriately without the same expectations? Even as the responsible adult in the room, it can be expected that he or she will make a mistake in judgement when dealing with the classroom environment every day of the school year. Should a lapse in judgement happen, everyone would agree that there would be consequences to be accepted. Why does this lapse in judgement have to be a major incident? Why do we consider actions like: Dumping books on the floor, throwing erasers, name calling, false accusations, crumpling up a student’s work, kicking book bags, etc- to be acceptable behavior from our teachers? Teachers are to be the leaders of the classroom and school environment. Teachers are to be held to a higher level of respect. Allowing such petty behavior to be displayed by a teacher in the classroom should never be tolerated. The classroom should be a safe haven for each and every student to learn and pursue their education! Don’t just leave it up to the students to speak up, if you know of a colleague that is tarnishing the reputation of being an educator, speak up!
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