Showing One’s Needs

I’m starting my related arts class this quarter. I was scheduled to teach “Study Skills,” but after looking at my roster and talking to folks in guidance, I switched. I’m teaching “Self-Advocacy,” which I’m interpreting as socials skills (i.e., learn the skills to deal with problematic situations and come out positively).

And some of these students really need social skills.

Yesterday, while talking to the new students, I asked one of them her name. She mumbled something, and at the same moment, someone in the front of the class said her name as well. I really didn’t catch either one, so I asked her again.

“She already told you. Why do I gotta tell you again?” she responded, with — as the students would say — attitude.

If I were teaching anything other than social skills, I don’t know that I could have kept my cool as well as I did. I simply turned it into a teachable moment when I had a one-on-one moment with her.

But it’s that kind of response that just floors me. “What in the world are you hoping to accomplish by responding to an innocuous question like that with such disrespect?” I thought.

Another example today: I was handing out note cards. “What are these for?” one young man asked — a young man who has a reputation in the school as one who would talk back to a brick wall. I didn’t say anything immediately and he looked at the note card, looked at me, smacked his teeth, and asked again, “What are these for?!

Again: “What in the world are you hoping to accomplish by responding that way?”

2 thoughts on “Showing One’s Needs

  1. Funny you should mention disrespect. We had three girls come into the 6th grade hall this morning. They came through the stairwell door from the 7th grade. We told them they couldn’t be there. They ignored us. Another teacher asked them who they were. They ignored us as they opened up a locker and took some things out. They continued to ignore us as we told them that they needed to move along. My co-teacher followed them down the hall and took them directly to the office. Oh, then they talked. They were ballistic that they were in trouble–and were mad that we expected them to respond when we spoke to them. I fear for the future.

  2. Being ignored like that is one of my “buttons.” I’ll admit: it’s very difficult for me to keep my cool when students do that. I’ve had it happen a couple of times. Never with my own students. One girl who did it, when I finally put myself physically in front of her, screamed at me, “You’re going to make me miss my f’ing bus!”

    I too fear for the future.

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