Look up any teacher message board on Facebook and you will find stories of teachers who have had enough because of their inability to control their classes. Stories of disrespect, violence, and chaos in the classroom, a place where behavior management has become impossible for many teachers.
Stories, like what happened in my hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada where I teach, are popping up everywhere. A video surfaced that I couldn’t even bring myself to watch of a young teenage girl pummeling another girl (in the back of the head) into unconsciousness as she sat at her classroom desk. What did the other students do? They laughed and videoed as teachers everywhere cried at the inhumane behavior which is all too familiar.
We want desperately to help our students, but we can’t do it alone. There are many reasons why management techniques have become ineffective. And while teachers are well aware of this, we need others to take note also.
There is a segment of parents who believe that their children can do no wrong and will fight tooth and nail to make everyone believe this to be true.
We have heard all too many times, “My kid doesn’t do this at home,” implying that we have single-handedly transformed children into disrespectful humans by the mere action of requiring respect. Behavior management is difficult when parents don’t back us up.
Sometimes forming positive relationships with challenging students is not enough. The more we try, the worse the behavior gets. Early emotional trauma takes years of intense mental counseling to help or it turns into the violent behaviors we are seeing now.
Yet, parents and admin expect teachers to either work miracles or else accuse them of poor behavior management.
Restorative justice programs can be effective, but they are never implemented with enough buy-in, resources, or follow-up. Instead, these programs often have no consequences because those who implement them do not explain or execute them correctly.
Other school-wide management programs are abandoned after a year, which is not enough time to see any real effects.
4. Consequences aren’t allowed.
Many administrators avoid consequences and send students back into the classroom immediately. What does this say to the other students in the classroom that watch this happen?
The lack of backup ties our hands when it comes to classroom management. We avoid sending students to the office and instead endure an unsafe and chaotic classroom environment.
Kids grow up on screens and instant gratification. They learn and work differently than they did 40 years ago, yet we are using the same “test to death” procedures.
We need to create more elementary-aged magnet schools that take the whole child and their interests into account. Kindergarten should be more about learning social skills than learning how to take a standardized test. To prepare kids for the future, we need to understand where they are now, not where we wish they were.
6. Parents have an Us vs. Them mentality.
Teacher bashing has become a popular pastime on social media. Instead of working with us and solving problems, parents twist situations and seek support from others who join in with the herd mentality.
The blatant disrespect trickles down to students who act out towards us in the classroom.
7. School violence is on the increase.
Violent behaviors are on the increase as a result of unidentified and untreated early trauma.
Teachers experience student violence daily and should not have to pull apart kids, risk injury, or go through a lawsuit just to manage their classroom.
We all know that building relationships with students is key to having effective classroom management. Well, I barely have time to form relationships with my own two children let alone over 200 students. This is mentally overwhelming, and yet the most common piece of advice we get from administrators is to just “keep building relationships!”
9. Educational institutions do not prepare teachers well.
Students training to be teachers usually have one behavior management class in college. Simulation videos often show staged situations that are laughable compared to what is truly happening in our classrooms. Although literally nothing could truly prepare us for what goes on with the kids every day, it would be helpful if our training classes fit the real world.
10. The Pandemic has further exacerbated social inadequacies.
The lack of social interaction that occurred during the Pandemic has created students who have not yet learned the social norms of relationships and being in a classroom. Students seem to be making up for lost classroom time by talking through entire lessons.
In every article I write, I always say that, to find solutions, we must listen to the teachers. Well, to solve this behavior crisis, we must listen to the students. Their cries for help come in the form of inward and outward violence, bullying, extreme disrespect, lack of social skills, and suicidal ideation.
Teachers cannot and should not be expected to use standard classroom behavior management techniques to solve these problems. They are just too big.