The L.A. Times published a story today about how some teachers can’t control their classrooms and how it makes for a horrible learning environment. The story focuses on how teacher school doesn’t teach teachers how to handle discipline problems because it’s all circumstantial and what may work for one class won’t work for another. The story didn’t shed any light on anything we already didn’t know really. So, since I am a product of the LAUSD system and have seen a lot of shit, even in my day, I’m going to chime in with my own two cents and offer my suggestions to would be LAUSD teachers on how to deal with the discipline issue of teens. Also, if teachers, former and current, can chime in with their war stories and what worked for them, anonymously of course, it will be greatly appreciated.
First the bad. In elementary school kids didn’t get out of hand because we listened to our teachers, specially at that age. It wasn’t until I got into junior high that I started to notice the dynamics of the class room and how things work. In one class you couldn’t mess around because the teacher would set their foot down the first day of class. He respected us and in turn we returned that respect because he didn’t treat us like snot nosed junior high kids. In other class we knew we could get away with murder because the teacher was just asking for it, if that’s even possible and the majority of the time, because they acted like dicks, up on some high chair. Looking back on things now, it was obvious that in the real world they got shit, so they used the classroom to compensate for that and boss around junior high kids. Then there are those younger teachers that tried the, “I’m going to use curse words and be cool by relating to the kids and doing fun things so they like me better” approach. They got walked on all over half way through the semester. It takes all kinds and it really does make a difference how much experience teachers have when they go into the lions pit.
Some of the most memorable events that stick out in my head are the times when the class would unite and reduce the teacher to tears because everything just got out of control. The teacher would get so frustrated that they would break and throw objects. That’s when they would start sending you to another class because that way you wouldn’t case any trouble hahahah. Ahhh memories. I remember my senior year at Roosevelt was a joke. Serious. In one class all we did was watch WWII movies and taped newscast from CNN that the teacher would bring in. In another class the teacher was so oblivious of what was going on that random students ditched in the class with their friends and smoked weed in the back, all the while the teacher would be asking where that smoke is coming from. “Uhh, I think it’s coming from the science class on the top floor miss.” We WERE the top floor you idiot !!!
It’s insane to think back on how fucked up things were and still are, but if a Chicano teacher was at the helm, everyone calmed down. That also happened when an attractive female teacher would be at the front too. It’s funny how that worked. Things I’ve seen work in the classroom are treating the kids with respect and not acting like you are doing them a favor by teaching them. Talking always helps and of course finding common ground. When you know the person up there was in the same seat you were, give or take a few decades, it makes the students more responsive. It really is just a matter of walking into that classroom and letting the kids know that they can’t fuck with you, but because you are there to help them. Don’t treat a classroom like some prison, yet you can’t give them too much leeway, less they take it for granted and give you a nice surprise. But what do I know right ? I’m only a student. Although my end goal is to become a teacher. Why you ask ? because I love to suffer 🙂