Misbehaving students disrupt those who truly want to learn
A recent letter to the editor refers to “bully union teachers” at Buffalo School 18. My response is to relate my observations of the excellent teaching and dedication of teachers at the school, who must work in often very trying circumstances.
For many years, I have been a one-day-a-week volunteer at School 18. I can’t think of a volunteer activity that is as productive and personally rewarding. Let me tell you about my observations as a fly on the wall.
Imagine watching an excellently prepared math lesson that is many times more complex than I ever had to digest in elementary school. While 24 children are diligently writing and asking questions, another student is standing on his chair. He jumps to the floor, and, followed by another student, opens the door and runs down the hall, returning in a few minutes to lie on the floor, and then resume talking in a loud voice to the surrounding working students.
In what seminar does a teacher learn nonpunitive strategies to convince this disruptive student to behave? At times he is escorted out of the room, and occasionally suspended. He returns with a confident swagger to his attention-getting, disrespectful and chaos-sowing behavior. I have seen unaccompanied children running, shouting and banging doors in the halls. I have seen a teacher trying to defuse a threatening and swearing child outside a classroom door. I have seen a wastebasket fly out of a door and roll down the hallway.
I object to hearing teachers held accountable for student behavior that is so far beyond civil persuasion or consequences that can be imposed by a teacher or a principal. The recordings by cameras in the classrooms would be a revelation to those who draw their conclusions from newspaper accounts. Certainly, the School Board and administration must devise strategies to deal with students who are interfering with the success of excellent teachers and eager students.