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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Advice on how to combat students who see nothing wrong with treating each other disrespectfully...

Advice on how to combat students who see nothing wrong with treating each other disrespectfully...

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My number one rule and expectation in the classroom is that we treat each other respectfully in the classroom. This year I am really struggling with a class who sees nothing wrong with treating each other disrespectfully. There is constant picking at each other, insulting each other, and invading each others' space. This is not a dynamic I have in any other class this year nor have I encountered it in previous years. When I have discussed this behavior with individual students or with the class, they comment that this is how they always are with each other. In speaking with other teachers who have this group, the teachers are having the same problem and are just as unable to remedy the disrespectful behavior. Any advice would be welcome. FYI - This is a freshman gifted group who have been together since sixth grade. They take all their academic classes together.

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Marshall Barnes's picture
Marshall Barnes
Founder, Director of SuperScience for High School Physics

It appears that the problem is that you don't know how to exert your authority over the class. If these kids are so-called "gifted" and they don't know how to behave any better than this now that they're in the 9th grade, then I dare say we're probably looking a future white collar criminals, etc. It's pretty clear that they've been given a pass all this time in their school career and now you see why this type of behavior should never be tolerated, no matter how young they are. If someone had put their foot down on it when they were in kindergarten, then they would be well behaved now.

I would say that when you explained what your standards are for classroom behavior, and they responded that that's they way they've always behaved, that was the opportunity for you to say, "Well, you're not going to be doing it here" and instituting a gamut of punishments for various offenses and repeat offenses and explaining that they're not babies, and they're certainly not idiots and they're old enough to start acting as they are expected to act and if they don't, they pay the price.

I'm sorry, but I have little tolerance for asinine behavior on the part of spoiled brats because in the future they become criminals, if not sooner. This is no exaggeration - how much you wanna bet that that the kids involved in hazing deaths in colleges were a lot like the brats you've described in your class? And because they weren't whipped into shape when they were young, now they're lives are a mess and other kids are dead. So this is nothing to be taken lightly or met with mamby pamby hand wringing and fretting over their poor little self-esteems or some other psychobabble claptrap. This is a very serious matter and it needs to be dealt with that way.

Good Luck!

Murat Karagöz's picture

How to shape them if they have no fear of parents,no fear of losing points? Is there any other way to provide respect for teacher and each other esp.if they are used to corporal punishment by their parents and the other teacher?They are 7th grade and starting to enter puberty. I am going to go crazy or leave this job!

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