Hell is the classroom


Angela Maiers has raised in her post “Can We Please Get Some RESPECT?” a problem that has become so pressing lately in many schools around the world. In fact a lot of teachers complain about the disrespect they get from their students and nothing seem to help. Punishing or suspending them doesn’t work. Parents don’t care. So for some teachers “hell is the classroom.”  Some blame it on television. Others contend that the youth are just trying to adapt to a new era where violence is part of their every day lives.  What is sure is that teachers are suffering and feel they are helpless.

violence at school

violence at school

There is no magical solution

Well as Angela Maiers rightly says, there is no magical solution. But some facts need to be considered.

  1. Dealing with discipline issues calls for a preventive NOT a reactive approach.
  2. Preventive approach means that we should do our utmost to create a comfortable welcoming environment for our students. Teachers should be willing to give the best of themselves while teaching and while interacting with their students. This doesn’t mean that teachers should not put limits or rules. Rules are important. But they should be rules that direct the students energy towards excellence. The secret is: “Teachers should teach with love and logic.” Remember:  the more successful teachers are,  the more  respectful the students will be.
    Here is what I mean by successful teaching.
    • Cognitively successful teaching.
      • No matter what it seems to be, our students are in need of a cognitive development.
      • Teachers must have a clear view of the teaching methods, approaches and theories.
      • Lesson plans should always be prepared with  a room for improvisation in case of unexpected events.
      • Teachers should keep students busy with motivating material.
      • Teachers should help students understand the objectives of  lessons.
      • Teachers should take into consideration the differences between students. Differences in learning styles, for example are fundamental in the learning process.
      • Students should participate in the choice of content (content that meets their needs) and its delivery (presentations, project work, …)
      • Students should work as a group not as individuals. Competition is good. But when it leaves some students lagging behind, it becomes a source of stress and dissatisfaction.
    • Affectively successful teaching.
      • Our students are human beings.
      • They have emotional needs.
      • A stressful environment results from the lack of true human interaction and most tensions felt in the classroom are caused by misunderstanding.
      • Teachers who care about students will have less problems . In other words, teachers with emotional intelligence are less likely to have classroom management issues.
      • Classroom management issues appear when the channels of communication are absent.
      • Students and teachers  spend a lot of time at schools. It would be a pity if that time is spent in a stressful environment.
  3. Teachers must not wait until the harm is done. A reactive approach rarely works to redress management issues. Of course, punishment works. But just for a short laps of time. Teachers , the administration and parents should work together to establish a caring atmosphere in our schools from the start. Students must be encouraged to be responsible, to see the importance of education, to set goals in their lives and to work so as to achieve them. This is part of our job. Without this enthusiasm on our part, the classroom will always be a place of either trivial play or boredom!

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3 Responses

  1. fred merwin says:

    this has got to be the biggest piece of illogical strategy on how to manage at risk youth I have ever seen. I have taught this population you speak of… and they need discipline… they need consistency… it doesn’t matter if i sit at my desk, on the floor, or run around the room, “problem” students are not motivated due to the effects of POVERTY, not “poor teaching strategies…” yes differentiation is important, scaffolding is important, knowing which student is on an IEP, or a 504 is important, staying after school to help, calling parents, etc… i think you mis-interpret this “stressful environment” you speak of as a symptom of holding students to high expectations… which is it that you want… do you want students to be able to read, write, calculate, think critically, in order to survive in the highly skilled, technological world that they are entering, or do you want to have students to be passive to the curriculum and skills, yet active in their choice of subject matter and the way the behave? how does that make any sense? The preventive approach to discipline you speak of is great… we practice that. at our school (pbs).. but repeat offenders of the rules, when they do not change behavior after agreed upon consequences, after signing behavior contracts, ad infinitum, what do you do then?… where is the accountability on the individual (the student)?… after all… we are trying to teach them to be individuals who think for themselves right? Well, how can you do that without consistency with discipline and expectations? If i have to send a student to the office, am i creating a stressful environment or expressing the classroom management issues you speak of?

  2. I taught in one of the poorest areas in Morocco: kind of extreme poverty. These children had to work as shoeshine boys to support themselves. They had hardly warm clothes on them. Nevertheless, they used to get the best grades in maths, physics, chemistery, English… POVERTY may not be the cause of failure and indiscipiline. On the contrary, It can be a motivational factor for success. According to my experience, successful teachers rarely have serious problems of indiscipline. In fact a lot of indiscplinary issues arise out of failure in involving students in the learning process.

  1. August 2, 2013

    […] in two previous posts. The first one was about teaching with love and logic and the second one the RESPECT that some teachers seek to get from their students. These postsĀ  highlighted the importance of preventive measures compared to reactive […]

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