Um, How Do I Respond to This?

One of the fundamental rules of teaching is "pick your battles." In general, engaging a student who talks back or makes a smart-alec remark doesn't do anything to help your own standing. At the very least you undermine your own position, and in the worst case scenario the situation escalates into a really nasty confrontation. It hasn't been easy, but I've learned to ignore some of the more trivial comments from angry or misbehaving students.

Then there are situations like today. In spite of my best efforts, there are certain comments you can't quite ignore. It started out with "The Biter," a student who was transferred into my class about two months ago, making comments about bacon balls and cheese balls. He was getting the desired laughs from most of the oh-so-mature gentlemen in my classroom. But I decided to focus my energy on the kids who were laughing, rather than The Biter.

The Biter, losing his audience, decided to up the ante, keeping with the same "balls" motif, but now bringing "your mother" into the situation. I decided this wasn't acceptable, pulled him out of his seat and brought him face to face with the classroom rules. I thought maybe a firm reminder of our class's rule about appropriate language might be in order. How did he respond? I can't repeat what he said, but let's say he didn't get the message about appropriate language.

I'm not sure how I could have responded differently. I definitely lost my cool, but there inevitably comes a moment in a classroom where you have to draw a line and say enough is enough. It definitely won't produce the change I need from the kid, because if it was that easy he wouldn't have been kicked out of one class already this year. This once though, I don't think I'll second guess my decision. It could be a mistake, but at this point, I'm entitled to stand by it.

Comments

L.Shaw said…
Is your class Special Ed?

Keep anecdotals on this kid and speak to the school psychologist. You may think about referring to SpEd or a more restrictive environment.
bronxteach said…
Nope, general ed. Just one of the perks of working in a community where tons of kids with special academic and emotional needs go unserved. I'm in the process of 3 referrals for students, but I'll be lucky if anything results from them. I'm still waiting to hear on a CSE referral I turned in in DEcember! Not fair to the teachers, and definitely not fair to the students.

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