Unacceptable Behavior

September 1, 2010 at 8:36 pm 1 comment

Today, we did the legendary Play-Doh Writing Process activity – an extended metaphor through manipulatives that I’ve found works long-lasting wonders for a certain section of my students, and gives us all a common vocabulary throughout the year – followed up by a short reading comprehension activity. It was a fun day, a good day. A nice way to spend class two weeks into the school year.

My 4A is a rough class, I can tell already. One kid spent the first two weeks of school – the first two weeks – suspended for gang activity. I’ve got a kid who has some sort of self-inflicted, highly specialized Tourettes and announces “strawberry!” in response to any query. Crap like that. And there’s a kid who I can tell is likely going to be trouble, but who hadn’t hit my radar yet – until today.

His first transgression was, as sophomores go, a minor one. Put Play-Doh into the hands of sophomore boys (or seventh grade boys, as I discovered two years ago) and you will inevitably get a phallus or two. Trouble Boy was trying to hide his Play-Doh penis by sitting on it (no, I’m not even going to go there) and I used my infinite charm and humor to persuade/slightly embarrass him into reattributing the clay to different projects.

While the class worked on their reading assignment, Trouble Boy was one of several who were completely screwing off and distracting others. I’d repeatedly tried to get them on task, to no avail; finally I announced that no one was allowed to leave for the day until they turned in their completed assignment. That did the trick for most of the goof-offs, but not Trouble Boy or his friend, Junior (he’s a junior in my sophomore English). They just kept right on their merry little way, refusing to do the work.

The bell rang, and I stood by the door to collect each student’s work. Most of the class had cleared out when Junior – a strapping young Latino who probably weighs 250 pounds and is taller than I am – came up to the door.

I asked for his work. He said he didn’t have it. I repeated that he was not leaving until he turned it in; he replied that he “was too” leaving, and proceeded to physically shove past me and out the door. Had I not stepped back, he would have knocked me on my butt. (I’m kind of wishing I’d let him – it would have been so much more dramatic!)

Still reeling from the sheer rudeness and non-acceptableness of Junior’s behavior, I collected a few more assignments and then confronted Trouble, who seemed to think he could leave without his work as well. Now, Trouble is a small guy, the sort who probably suffers from a Napoleon complex because he hasn’t hit his early high school growth spurt yet. He wasn’t going to be physically shoving past anyone.

I told him that he had to turn in his work, at which point he cursed, returned to his desk, and scribbled on a sheet of paper for a minute without even opening his textbook to get the questions. I refused to accept it on the basis that A) he obviously didn’t even read the questions and therefore couldn’t have gotten correct answers and B) even if he had opened his book, it was unlikely that “suck my dick” had anything to do with Greek mythology. Well, at least not the kind we study in high school.

At this point he got up in my face and began yelling about how I had just said it had to be done, not that it had to be correct, and that I would too accept it, and he was too leaving, and that I couldn’t make him do a good job on the work….

And sensing that I was in a far more touchy situation than I’d been in with the kid who was willing to walk through me, I stepped back and watched him flounce off down the hallway before retrieving his lame attempt at the assignment from the garbage and marching off to find the Dean.

Turns out that Junior is a good guy who hasn’t ever done anything like this before; I spoke to parents and they were horrified. He’ll get two days suspension, and I should get an apology note out of it. Trouble, on the other hand, is on a behavior contract after being expelled last year. He had one chance, and he just blew it over a ten question reading assignment.

It’s hard to know how to feel about all this, other than shaken up and infuriated and slightly unhappy that “I just got a kid expelled,” even though it wasn’t me but he who did the expelling. I’m glad I don’t live in the neighborhood, though. Trouble was seeing red, and I can just imagine how ticked he’s going to be when or if he gets booted.

I’m glad, though, that the Dean is backing me up for once on something. He’s taking it very seriously and allowing me to have input into Junior’s consequences. Having spoken to the Dean and to Junior’s parents, I feel confident that this was an out-of-character “snap” moment that won’t be repeated. (The Dean and SRO did ask if I wanted to press charges for assault, but seemed relieved when I declinedMy concern with him is that he did it in front of my class, and I can’t have this particular group of hoodlums thinking that it’s okay to act like that in my room (or anywhere else for that matter).


Entry filed under: BAD BEHAVIOR, BAD DAY.

You Get What You Ask For There’s Nothing Like Teaching…

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Catching Up « Full of Bees!  |  October 27, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    […] just posted about a bad experience I had near the beginning of the year, and shared something chuckle-worthy about student essays from […]


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The Bee’s Knees

This is the teaching journal of a student first-year second-year THIRD-YEAR (!!!) English teacher. I am writing this blog as a reflection for myself, a way to keep friends and family updated, and a sharing-ground between other educators online. I love comments!

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