Writing my way through the school year!

My youngest son is no angel, not in any way, shape, or form. He had been getting in  “trouble” since preschool. I would go to pick him up and he would wave, and grin, at me from the timeout area. He didn’t know any better, he was just one of those kids that was always up and about. Back then, if you were that kid, you ended up in timeout.

When he was in the second grade, I had a conference with his teacher. She couldn’t wait for me to sit down as she proclaimed, “He needs to be on medication! You need to put him on medication!” (We won’t go into the fact that legally a teacher cannot tell a parent to put their child on medication.) She then proceeded to show me what she did because he could not ” behave.” She took his chair, put it facing the blackboard in the front of the room, and then if that wasn’t enough, she rolled the hanging chart behind him “so he wouldn’t distract the other kids.” I saw red! What a humiliating experience for my child! She seemed quite pleased with herself. Needless to say, I contacted the principal immediately and had my child removed from her class.He was placed in a classroom where the teachers practiced strategies that allowed them to deal with kids like my son.

Last Sunday, I was talking to a parent who has a son in one of the new charter schools in my state. She informed me that her son had to wear the “yellow shirt.” The yellow shirt states, “Do not talk to me, I am in isolation.” My mouth fell open, and I told her, “Get your child out of that school immediately. She responded, “Oh, it’s ok, the shirt is normal.”

Normal? What’s normal about having anyone’s child walk around with a shirt saying “Don’t talk to me”? Using Color coded student ID’s according to your test scores?  Showing the class a student’s work and mocking them  in front of the class? What’s normal about a teacher humiliating a child in the hope that they will behave better? How could this possibly work?  The natural reaction to humiliation is to either shut down, or to become aggressive. The child no longer trusts the teacher and it has created an intolerable situation in the classroom for the student and/or the teacher. It can also lead to bullying. If the teacher is allowed to bully a student, why shouldn’t the other students?

I know they “take us there” sometimes. I was one of those teachers who had to stop using sarcasm as a classroom management technique, especially when I had a difficult group of kids. But now, I always think of how I would feel in that situation.  I think about how my sons would feel.  You know the adage, “Treat others the way you want to be treated!”  Now that’s a good classroom management technique!

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Comments on: "“Humiliation is Not a Classroom Management Technique!”" (6)

  1. Thank you so much for posting about this subject. As a special education teacher, I appreciate teachers taking a stand against this ridiculous notion. This type of “classroom management” is used far to often and can really damage children. I really appreciate you bringing it to light. Good for you!!

    • You are welcome Elizabeth. And I agree, too many teachers feel that humiliating students is the way to control them. They don’t realize it just makes their job more difficult and unpleasant for themselves and the students.

  2. I’m no fan of humiliating people. But as a middle school teacher, I have found it strange to see chronically disruptive students play the part of the “victim” when they have been called on the carpet. I always wonder how great they are going to feel when they graduate from high school without a proper education. THAT sounds humiliating. I realize this may sound incendiary but I am a man in a feminized institution. Sorry, but I blame the self esteem movement for much of the woes that our public schools now face. For me, school is anything but a “natural” environment anyway. If Ritalin helps someone perform in these rectangular rooms where 30 or so children of the same age are serviced by one adult at a time for 6 hours, then so be it. Optimally, I’d just as soon find some other means of trying to educate much of our youth.

    • I have to agree with you on one point, I am also not a big fan of the self esteem movement. We have placed so much on a child’s “self-esteem” that I think we take away the chance to let them lose or feel failure. I also will ‘call a student out” if necessary, but I have found other ways to do it. I found that when it is done publicly, it becomes a power struggle that someone , the teacher or the student wants to “lose.”

    • Michelle M. said:

      I completely agree, if you can find a way to control what is coming out of their mouth and the disrespect for 8 hrs. so be it. The reality of these times is that kids don’t have any fear for anything or anybody. As is they are taking all the power and respect away from the teachers. And if you don’t have the support to handle a behavior problem, we as teachers try to do our best. I do not have a degree in psychology, or the time to find strategies to please a unruly kid.

      • Michelle, I agree with you in terms of unruly and disrespectful students. There are times when you just have to set a kid straight right away. However, discipline is one thing, constant humiliation is another.

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