Friday Focus

December 4, 2015

Ty shared a great article with me this week about a college president who stated college students are too sensitive and too quick to play the victim card. I'm sure they were relating to the issues happening down the road from us, but I read it from an HS principal viewpoint. We have the same problem with our students and they are seeing it at the next level.

This article was about a student being offended by what the subject of the lecture/sermon was in a particular class. I don't hear reports like that; our students are usually more offended by something directed at them, but I agree our students get offended too easily. It made me feel a lot better about how our students are reacting lately, not because it makes it ok to do it, but that it is not just us dealing with it.

Ty and I had an interesting discussion with a student last month and just about every word that came out of my mouth was twisted and offended them. At one point, I said they were being a "pain" about the situation and I was told that is rude and I can't do that. Why can't I be rude? I am not aware of any laws, regulations, or school board policies that say I can't be rude to a student. It is highly unprofessional of me and not a good practice to use often, but the worst thing that could happen is to tell my boss, Mr. Robertson.

Most of the discipline issues we see in the office this year revolve around either a teacher or a student feeling disrespected. I feel like it is becoming a society issue, because every little action and word is taken the wrong way and they cut people deeply. I have no clue on how to fix the problem of everyone becoming narcissistic, but I will probably wind up blaming social media before I'm done ranting about this. The only thing I can think of is to get them on your side so when an issue comes up they have a long background of them knowing you care deeply about them.

The more we analyze the problems of any school building in the United States, it becomes clearer that it all boils down to 2 things. Students have to believe you are an expert on the material and you care about them before they will listen to what you are saying. I know the people in this building are experts and have great amounts of knowledge about their subject, but the proving it to the student's part is trickier, because everyone does it in different ways. Some teachers have been around long enough to have a reputation with the students that they are highly knowledgeable so they have it easier. When each of us started teaching, we had to prove ourselves to the kids, and it was probably rough until we figured it out.

As far as the students knowing you care about them, I think this is the root of many school issues. Think about class discipline, student effort and achievement, and the interactions you have with students. It all comes down to how they perceive you like them. If they feel like you are on them all of the time about poor behavior, do you think they will just jump up with excitement ready to do anything you ask them. When they know you care about their success and about them as person outside of being a learner, they will move mountains for you. The problem is I don't have an end all solution for every teacher to implement tomorrow to make this better. It is still the art of teaching part that we all have to hone in on better to make this easy. If you feel like you are struggling with students showing respect, maybe the best idea is to observe some teachers who excel in this area. Email me or swing by and I can help point you in the right direction of a few teachers who you should see in action.

The attitude of getting respect before we give respect needs to die. This goes for every human on this planet. The kids say it more than the adults do, but it just doesn't make sense anymore. Everyone needs to give respect out and model how you want others to act towards you. Try killing them with kindness until they don't have a choice but to be nice back to you. We will continue working with the students on how to treat others better, and hopefully, we will get our little piece of the world back on track.