Rude Language from Boys 2

Here is a follow up from that teacher, our group member, who went through the rude boys thing last week:

“I did the thing I dreaded today – the conference with the kid and his dad.  I was the only female in the room and that SUCKED, along with the principal and the assistant principal.  Neither said much while this man berated me from across the table.  He agreed with me that his sons behavior was inappropriate, but he felt there was no reason to have the “sexually harassed” part and there was no evidence to back it up.  He said in a court of law it wouldn’t stand-up.  I looked at him across the table and kept saying, “The point is, your son wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing.”. He agreed, but didn’t like the wording as part of his son’s record.  Well, I didn’t tell the kid to do any of it, so it’s not me.  The dad kept trying to infer that my class was out of control.  Humm, funny the last two days have been wonderfully quite (quiet).  Finally after almost an hour of being lectured at, the principal said he supports his teachers and the other guy in the room asked the boy if he felt comfortable returning to class.

“I wasn’t asked, no apology was offered and the kid is back in my room today right after the meeting.  The only thing the kid said is sometimes I cry and nothing gets done, there isn’t any consistency to my teaching and the subject matter is random.  Probably all true, but no apology. I should have walked out when the conversation went in circles. 

“Well, if there is ANY more messing around I have the fathers permission to kick the kid out.”

My response: what the kid said is a mirror of what the father has imparted to him about teachers. It’s an American mindset, an attack on you when he is the one who’s behavior is being questioned. Certain political groups do that; they turn shit around on people. This dad must be a politician. His son will learn those skills and our society will suffer from it. Sorry about the soapbox on that. My point: what that kid said there, as if he were in a position to critique your work (NOT!), was a symptom of a very very sick society where children are allowed to say such things. Very sad to read that.

That you were not asked if YOU felt comfortable with his returning to YOUR classroom is another sign that these three men were on the roof level of the discussion house, and you and the kid, the woman and the child, were not up there with the three men, but in the basement. This is unpardonable. The behavior of the principals, the AP in particular, who asked if the kid was “ready to return to YOUR classroom” but who did not ask you, the teacher, the same question, is way beyond any pardon and indicative that those three guys made a little fraternity house right in that room. I don’t feel that I am reading too much into that, either.

I think you did great.It was a loss that the kid got back into class, but it was a big victory that one call from you and the kid is out. But it indicates why our system is failing so badly. Women in an inferior position to the men who run the school, and even the kid gets to blast the teacher in front of the principal. WTF? If I were in that room I would have STOPPED that kid from his description of your class. Can you say THROTTLED? I’m not interested in hearing what the kid has learned from his father about this class WITHOUT EVER HAVING BEEN IN IT but who nevertheless has taught his son what to think about it. This enables the son to not be a conscious member of the student group as the ACTFL modes and as the classroom rules request. The kid doesn’t have to show up! That’s what all of this is about. You ask him to become human and he doesn’t want to, he says those crude, awful things in class, and you basically get blamed. The father wants you to get more organized, maybe teach some grammar the way he learned it. The father has shown the son that it is YOUR problem.

When the boy said that you:

…nothing gets done, there isn’t any consistency to [your] teaching and the subject matter is random….

and you said that it is probably true, but maybe you could stop and look at that before you agree so fast. There is absolutely no consistency in my own teaching, and if we are doing the approach correctly, that is what it looks like, but it is the farthest thing from the truth. It’s just the way TPRS/CI rolls. It’s random. Small children do not have their language acquisition device activated by neatly arranged chapters in a book. The crying part? Stop that.

Oh well, don’t forget, you get the combat pay bonus of $1000 for every two hours of lost sleep on this. So it’s not a total loss.

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9 thoughts on “Rude Language from Boys 2”

  1. This is awful. I don’t even know what kind of advice I can even offer. At least we’re halfway through the school year!

  2. I agree with what Ben said about the dynamics in the room. It was a male network – and none of them probably realized it. Furthermore, the perpetrator doesn’t get to decide if something is sexual harassment. There are some criteria that must be met, but the victim gets a say in this. One important item is that you state the behavior is unacceptable. Then if it continues, you have a case.

    BTW, was there a union rep in the room? After this you should probably refuse to meet with your administration unless there is a union rep in the meeting as well.

    One of the things that genuinely concerns me the pre-packaging of education. In spite of being told that all of these packaging techniques “make students more successful” I am skeptical. They are more successful at what? Doing well in school, which is more of the same pre-packaged education. Unfortunately, it doesn’t prepare them for life, which comes at us randomly. Just before Christmas I wanted to show my level 1 class a PowerPoint on German Christmas customs that we would discuss as we went along. I had prepared a sheet of questions to help scaffold the discussion. The first question from the class was, “Are these in the same order as the PowerPoint?” They were unable to handle answering questions that did not come in the same order as the presentation.

    1. …the first question from the class was, “Are these in the same order as the PowerPoint?”….

      This is a HUGE point, one that illustrates, raises the concern, that education in the form above, when kids start asking questions in that kind of machine like fashion without any higher order skills in their arsenal at all, is actually dumbing kids down to robot status. Why would an employer ever want to hire an idiot? And we are producing idiots who can’t converse or think for themselves. Thanks for making that point Robert and thanks also for agreeing with me that what is described above is a sexist event and for pointing out that if it happens again it becomes a legal issue and that the perpetrator doesn’t get any say in the matter.

  3. I twinge inside at this recount of these events and, while I can say i’ve been in similar situations regarding the power structure of my school and classroom, I can’t say that I can truly understand what you’ve been through as a woman in this situation. I’m sorry that you have been put in this situation and I agree that a union rep from here on out is essential.

    As for advice, the line that I have learned to use in similar situations is the following, “What is it that you would like your son/daughter to learn from this experience?”

    I’ve found that it disarms the parent and can cause almost instantaneous introspection on their part.

  4. I too am sorry that the meeting happened the way it did. In spite of that, props to the teacher for sticking to her guns about the kid’s behavior, and staying on message. I have had parents suggest (subtly and openly) that I don’t have control of my class, and that their wonderful son would NEVER be disrespectful UNLESS a teacher was weak enough to allow them to (which raises another issue of discipline and ethics in parenting) . We must never lose sight of the premiss in these conferences, the acknowledgment by all parties of the student’s unacceptable behavior, and not let the conversation shift focus away from that. The kids just parrot what they hear at home, and it’s no coincidence that the kid who creates chaos in our classroom has the parent who blames us for allowing chaos to exist in the classroom. When we teach CI, we are opening up emotional cans of worms, in class and at home. By facing our fears and being present with our students, and holding them accountable for being present with us, we are shining a spotlight on bad parenting, and there is going to be some blow-back from people who don’t want to face anything. We could avoid these conflicts by handing out worksheets and telling them to shut up. But, as Ben and others have mentioned repeatedly on this list, once you do CI, there is no going back. None of us can choose inauthentic experiences once we’ve done the real thing, even if it’s easier. It’s like Plato’s cave-dwellers choosing to go back to their shackles and shadows.

  5. Reading about your awful experience transported me back to last year when I was in the same situation with a (male) student. Even though his infractions were different from your student (he simply chose not to be present, ever), the father’s reaction was exactly the same. Our meeting also lasted over an hour, mostly with the father – a big time lawyer in the district – berated me for speaking German in the classroom all the time!!!! He also was upset because “….I pay X amount of taxes and this is the kind of crap I get for a teacher for my son!!! Luckily, the (male) principal supported me all the way, also telling the father that he will not allow him to attack my qualifications as a teacher because he is the one who has seen me do it on a daily basis.

    Either way, the kid was smirking the whole time through the meeting because he got this wonderful validation from his father, also being infused with the idea that one should be able to buy any education/grade you want as long as you can pay for it.

    Unfortunately, the kid was with me for the rest of the year – without ever checking in (and I tried to engage him, believe me) since I am the only German teacher in the building. Funny thing is, I did and continue to feel so bad for this kid, knowing that this is the kind of father (loud, obnoxious, my way or the high way…..) he has to grow up with. I can only imagine how this man treats his wife. Not a good role model for his sons (they have 8 kids) at all. So sad.

    I always knew deep down that it wasn’t me or my sub-par teaching style but you do question yourself. At least I do, I can’t help it. My vindication came late but it did come. The kid dropped out of FL after two weeks into the new school year with my colleague on the next level. I guess because he, too, spoke German!!!

    Still, there is a sad truth to this – the kid has learned nothing from this whole experience, at least nothing that would make him a better, more compassionate person.

    So, whoever you are, you know it’s not you. Keep fighting the good fight – I guess that’s what they mean when they say you lost the battle but you are going to win the war!!! Thank you so much for sharing your experience, it helps all of us who deal with these kinds of things.

  6. A GIANT thank you to all the response to this problem! I was encouraged and supported with your comments through this and I am truly blessed to have you all! I’ve been trying very hard to crack down on these types of situations in my class and I find it difficult to be consistent; I don’t want to squelch the creativity. I can sense them testing me; on Friday one of the same kids raised his hand and said, “if Jesus is the only son of god does that make the rest of us homosexual and bisexual?”. In hindsight I should have kicked him out that moment, I did later after another comment. It’s not too late to write a referral.
    As for union representation; they were the first ones i went to that day. I was told that when there is a parent in the room I can’t have any! I know, stupid. So this guy could threaten a lawsuit from across the table and I had to remain mute! Some system we have!
    Again thank you for your care, support and shared experiences.

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