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It's 9 a.m., Do You Know Who Your Students Are?

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Following a recent controversy at his school surrounding students posting hateful comments about teachers on Facebook and MySpace, Assistive Principles says that these students may merely be trying to “get in good graces with the ‘popular crowd.’” He emphasizes that any posting on the Internet, whether about the student, or a teacher the student may not like, may not always represent reality. The insight he has for teachers who are surprised by the actions of their students is:

Our students are not who we think they are. They are more concerned with the perceptions of others, because their self esteem depends so much on what others think. They are willing to say and do things that may not be true, that may be hateful, and that may even be offensive to themselves in order to be accepted.
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True. Most students will do anything to fit in with their peers. Plus, kids really aren't thinking about repercussions of their actions at the time. They are only reacting.

When students show disrespect for their teacher we focus on the bad manners of the student. For some reason teachers never seem to be suspect for the bad behavior of their students. There is always something to be learned from such incidences. I suspect that highly respected teachers seldom ever suffer such a fate.

I struggle with the direction this post is taking. I agree that students don't weigh consequences and that they tend to not "attack" teachers they respect. However, to excuse poor student behavior/judgment due to a student's state of cognitive and self-esteem development is to set a dangerous trend. All of us made poor decisions throughout our lives but it was the consequences of those decisions which provided us with the growth to be better as people, as teachers. The Teacher's Leadership Network recently posted a discussion thread about teachers who set high expectations but do so with respect and compassion. Being one of those teachers, there were many times when I faced students who resented my expectations despite their belief that I was "a nice and fair teacher". Respect can be given to a teacher because he/she shows movies all day or never fails a student. We can't allow the natural social/emotional development of children keep us from having high expectations for their behavior and character.

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