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Same Script, Different Cast

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We've all seen them on the news, Facebook, Youtube, and sprawled across the internet... the teacher in the midst of a verbal assault on a student or the class.  Every week there is a new one.  Maybe I should start a video internet channel called "Teachers Gone Wild".   That's exactly what these videos look like, a teacher who has totally lost their professional filter and decided to as the young people say, "Do the Most".   In a day in age, where every encounter and every discussion has the potential of being taped teachers need to become more aware of how these situations escalate and can cost you your job.

Please know that most of the time, there is a warning that occurs before the students go to recording what happens in the classroom with a teacher.  This progression is very clear and many teachers ignore it.  Now, this is not referring to when a fight breaks out in the classroom.  So here are a few warnings signs that you will be cast in their upcoming production.

Warning Example #1:  Students start saying to you "Mr. Smith, you can say that to us" or "Mr. Smith why are you talking to her like that"   The truth is if they have to ask you the question or say that to you, there is a problem.  I know that at times students can challenge us by not doing exactly what we ask, when we ask them to do it.  Looking at how you approach that child makes a difference.  No one wants to be embarrassed in public and neither does a child.  Your approach to communication matters.

Warning Example #2:  When you say to them "Tell the administration, I don't care!  They're not going to do anything to me anyway" Everyone loves a great challenge, even children. You've opened the door to that recording.  You might as well say, "Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up." (Click to see)You are a professional, and the students have an expectation that you will be one, even when you are upset.  I know the standards are high, but we hold our students to high standards and so we must live up to those standards.

Warning Example #3:  When HR or the school administration speaks with you regarding student or parent complaints regarding your class.  One of the worst things for an educator to do is to go back to their classroom and broadcast about that conversation.  This normally sounds like, "You thought you had me by going and snitching" (Yes I said Snitching) "on me about what happens in my classroom. This is my classroom and I can do and say what I want to and there is nothing that you can do about it".    We there is something they can do about it.  The next time you start insulting a student, they are going to record you.  They might wait a few time, but the revolution will be recorded.

I don't believe it is right to record someone without their knowledge, but the reality is that students, parents, and co-workers do it daily.  Some of them for perceived justice and others as revenge.  We can't control other people and their actions, but we can control how we deal with conflict in the classroom.  Many times that "Teacher Gone Wild" moment is rooted in something that is going on in an educator's life outside of work.   A personal situation that has upset them before work or at work that results in the closest people to you, your students, to be on the receiving end of that situation.  If you are feeling stressed make sure that seek assistance.  Most employers have an Employee Assistance Program that provides some sort of Counseling Service available at no cost.  Contact someone who works with the program in your school district for more information.  

Daphne Donaldson

Supervisor of Personnel Management- High Schools

East Baton Rouge Parish School System

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