How NOT to react when a student does something totally inappropriate.

So, fellow classmates, I found myself in a situation that I had literally no idea what to do with,  but all I know for certain is that I did not do the right thing.

I’m in my Educ 350 class, and on Tuesday I did a mini teach. I was gonna use my genre project, but it hit a last minute snafoo when my mentor teacher forgot to rent out the computer lab for me. So I scrambled and created an expository writing lesson that I’d still consider actually passable; I had the little munchkins do a 3-2-1- exercise on post it notes, trade them, and then use the facts from that to write a wikipedia entry on the person next to them. Easy enough.

This is an interesting little class of 7th graders, with one boy who has actually been to a cottonmouth kings concert and one girl who looks like she takes makeup lessons from the lead singer of kiss. Read: They scare me. I really like all of them though, even this one little girl who seems to hate me for reasons I have not yet figured out yet (this comes into play in just a few paragraphs, dear reader)

The other CSU student who observes with me but doesn’t have to ever teach a lesson as his concentration is music is named Tim. He goes by Mr. Timmy. He also has a trombone tattooed on his arm.

Tim and I were talking one day and he said that he suspected one of the boys, Bailey, had a crush on me. He said he suspected that because one day I was absent and he overheard him and a few other boys talking about me. and so I, in a total doomsday move, said “Yeah right, cause 7th graders are totally going to have a crush on their teacher. That only happens in high school.”

Note that I was being dead serious, and I said this to him as we walked into the class that I was about to teach for the first time.

A sub was there so the kiddos were going APESHIT. They were running into the partition between their class and the next one, and two kids weren’t wearing shoes. (?!) So I did my first ever love and logic classroom management scold sesh and got them all in their seats. I did the warm up where they answered three interesting facts about themselves, two of their favorite bands and one thing on their bucket list. We got  started on the activity, and as I was walking around one kid asked me how I spelled my last name. I should have realized this was weird as they didn’t need my last name for anything, but alas….

Then I had the kids share if the person they wrote about didn’t mind them sharing. Some were really really funny (I may include a few later. I’m talking hilarious. if you get the chance, ALWAYS make sure to have a 7th grade boy tell you what is on their bucket list). Then, Sweet Carl, this tiny little boy who looks like the kid from UP, read the wiki of the football player he sits next to, Easton. It started out pretty normal (He came into this world on August 3rd, 1998! He likes table tennis and football!) and then Carl read the statement of doom:

“Easton thinks Ms. Y is very very pretty, and would like to know if she has a boyfriend.”

Chaos! The class starts erupting in ‘Ooohs!’, I can feel myself turning red, the teacher evaluating me starts writing furiously, and I went into panic mode. So instead of saying, oh I don’t know, THAT’S INAPPROPRIATE or something at least the tiniest bit corrective I go “Alright! Moving right along!”. Doesn’t work. Girl who hates me yells “Ew, Easton, on your honeymoon she’s gonna be like FORTY”. Classic. And so I keep trying to get everyone to read their stupid wikipedias, but another kid in the back raises his hand and asks if I’m gonna tell the class if I have a boyfriend. So then my sub jumps in and says that they need to stop being innapropriate, which I should have done about half an hour ago.

SO the point of my story is this. I am not as good as handling innapropriate situations as I thought I was. I am so hesitant to exert any authority that I just let this moment of these kids being total dorks slide right by. And I get scared that I will not be as good at enforcing the rules that I want in my classroom (no calling people gay or retarded, no bullying, etc etc) if I couldn’t even stop this. Has anyone else run into a situation like this? What would you do?

For the record, because it is hilarious, here is what Carls wikipedia was… I wish this one had been read outloud instead:

“Carl’s greatest achievement was kissing his mom and watching the Hunger Games six times. Carl never achieved skydiving before he died, however he did get to hug a stuffed panda bear. Carl died from a tragic incident. His favorite sport was gymnastics.”

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2 thoughts on “How NOT to react when a student does something totally inappropriate.

  1. I really appreciate your blog post because your thoughts pretty much mirror what I’ve been thinking lately. You actually inspired my blog post today!
    Thanks!
    -Anna B.

    https://csu301d.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/walking-the-line-of-authority/

  2. kreidern says:

    Hey! I think I lol’d several times while reading your blog post. Thanks for that! Now, I am NOT laughing at your expense, I’m laughing because I would have done the EXACT same thing if I was in your shoes! Reinforcement is the hardest thing to do in a classroom, because I hate being mean or scaring kids or having to correct bad behavior. It just sucks, all around. That’s literally the ONE thing I have to get up courage to do, and extremely difficult in a classroom full of strangers (the first day of school is going to be so hard for me…). I think you handled the situation pretty well, considering you’re only in the second phase of the program (I’m taking EDUC 350, 386, and 331 all next semester and I’m both nervous and excited to move on to the next stage). A response like this would’ve taken me off guard, and I would’ve stumbled through on how to handle it. I would’ve blushed beet red and literally wish I could melt into the carpet as all the students oggle and snicker at me. Don’t feel bad–embarrassing moments like this are ones that really haunt me before I go to bed at night, but at least you learned from this situation, and now you know how to handle it better the next time it happens. We’re teachers in training–we are bound to make some mistakes and stumble through awkward situations like this. There will be plenty more where that came from. But the thing is–nobody expects a teacher in training to be perfect. The sub who was evaluating you probably went through a similar situation, and so has all other teachers. Nobody ever taught you how to appropriately handle this situation, and so we all have to learn from experience. Don’t let the embarrassment keep you up at night (as it would me), and happily embrace the fact that you are way more prepared now for all the silly, diabolical things students will do to you haha.

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