THE OPEN HAVERSACK: Teacher abuse
Gone are the days when teachers are met as they enter the school or classroom with smiling, happy faces and outstretched hands carrying flower.
Some are now met with a high level of disruptive behaviour which may include verbal abuse, vandalism of personal belongings, stealing and persistent classroom disruption. Disruptive behaviour distracts a teacher from teaching and other pupils from learning.
We are all aware that students are not angels, and nearly every student has the odd naughty moment.
However, there are a few students who are bent on making the life of their teachers a “living hell” and this is at both the primary and the secondary schools.
These children are noisy, abusive and extremely disruptive and they go to great “lengths and breaths” to “rip” havoc in the school. Do not get me wrong; teachers do not want children to sit like angels, or passive recipients soaking up information. They need them to be active, respectful learners.
Regardless to how it is viewed, theft, disrespect and damage to personal belongings are all forms of teacher abuse and teachers should not have to endure these things at the hands of their charges. However, we expect teachers to reach out with arms of love and embrace these “angels” who persistently set out to cause them some measure of discomfort.
Advice for teachers
Keep a personal notebook and document any events that happen in the classroom. Your documentation should include – date, time, incident, action taken etc.
Write only the facts and leave out all emotions.
Inform the principal, deputy or senior teacher about the situation. In very serious situations, you may need to write a report about what happened and give a copy to the principal.
Once enough information is gathered, call a meeting with the parents of the student to decide what is to be done. In severe situations, the principal should call the meeting with the parents. Be sure to always have a third person present.
If personal property has been damaged, seek compensation from the parents of the student.
If there is damage to your belongings while at school, there is also an avenue for compensation.
Regardless to the situation, maintain a high level of professionalism at all times.
It is unfortunate that when the parents of wrongdoers are summoned to the school to meet with the teacher or principal they are of the opinion that their child is being unfairly punished or is not liked.
Teachers are the source of hope for many of our children and the persons who play an important role in their lives. However, most teachers are not trained as counsellors and they have limited knowledge on how to cope with extremely deviant children.
These problems are way out of their professional reach. If these students are allowed to continue without getting help, we are sure to be developing and nurturing a society of young criminals.
• Rhonda A. Blackman is an educator, a National Development Scholar and former President of the Early Childhood Association of Barbados Inc.