Year: 1996-1997
Month: October
Leader: Group D

Situation/Case Study:
STUDENT BEHAVIOR

Description:
A Student is a "Rush Limbaugh devotee". The student makes inappropriate remarks in class that seem to have come right from the radio show. Teacher believes in allowing wide ranging expression of opinions but sometimes feels she must stop this student from remarks that are disrespectful of other including others also in the class. Teacher talked to the dean about the student and learned that the student has improved in all classes this year. Teacher doesn't want to be too hard on him. He has recently completed a drug treatment program. One day in class the student commented that "Clinton sleeps with hookers." Teacher sent the student out of the room and called his mother. His mother was supportive of teacher's action. Teacher doesn't know how to help this student.

Hypotheses:
1. A teacher might feel frustrated in such a situation because the student seems to enjoy antagonizing other people publicly. His need for attention is being played out in front of others--putting the teacher in a difficult situation having to decide where a student is crossing a line of violating respect and decency towards others and when a student is voicing opinions because he/she really believes them. 2. I think that what I was trying to do is to foster a more accepting atmosphere in my classroom and instill in the students the notion that it is important to accept people of diverse backgrounds outside of the classroom as well. My frustration lies in not feeling that I am doing an adequate job in fostering such an environment and also whether or not I am being fair when I sometimes "shut him down." 3. The teacher felt that equality and balance were not being achieved in her classroom. There was a lack of control towards the student's actions. 4. A teacher in such a situation might feel that the student's comments were not constructive and were put in an offensive or belligerent tone. The teacher might then decide that the best course of action was to temporarily remove that student from the discussion--both to allow the discussion to continue, and to reinforce the requirement for constructive, respectful discussion. 5. The teacher wanted her students to know there is a correct way to share your opinions and an incorrect way. When the student stepped over the line, he needed to leave so others would understand you can not indiscriminately say what you feel. You have to take other people's feeling into consideration. 6. The actions taken were meant to diffuse the situation and tone down a lot of the negative views the student has. The frustration seems to come into play when there is repetition of inappropriate comments so that current action doesn't seem to be having as much in the way of results as would be hoped. 7. A teacher in such a situation might feel confused as to the student's motives, frustrated because the student had the potential to disrupt the entire class, lack of control because the student's views are not grounded in any concrete evidence. 8. It seems the teacher reacted the way she did in this situation because the student was a potential danger to others in the class. As a teacher it is our responsibility to give students freedom...yet protect the rights of others in the class. Respect of others and self is clearly an issue here. 9. The student is trying to get attention. Outlandish beliefs allow him to lay blame in other areas instead of focusing on himself. He may be trying to avoid failure. He may feel that by showing the students his knowledge he is seen as smart. The teacher was trying to role model for students having open beliefs and how to face things so we can state our opinions so we don't offend. She wants to encourage acceptance and diversity, but show how to have tact and restraint. 10. It seems the teacher was trying to walk a thin line between showing respect for the student and his right to express a view different from hers, and disallowing behavior that was disrespectful to others. She sent the student out of the room and called the parent when the behavior clearly crossed that line. It's a tough situation because it sounds like the student is very borderline a lot of the time. 11. I think that what I was trying to do is to foster a more accepting atmosphere in my classroom and instill in the students the notion that it is important to accept people of diverse backgrounds outside of the classroom as well. My frustration lies in not feeling that I am doing an adequate job in fostering such an environment, and also whether or not I am being fair when I sometimes "shut him down."

Theories behind practice:


Impact on others:
1. Inappropriate student behavior. 2. Student behavior is disrespectful of specific groups of people, some of whom are also in the class. 3. Student is needy but hard to reach.

Solutions:
1. Try to diffuse and not escalate behavior. 2. Change seating. 3. What you did was right. 4. Try to get him to take ownership for his behavior. 5.Does he seek power? Find appropriate ways to give him power. 6. Help all kids learn what comments may be allowable in some circles but not appropriate in school. 7. Focus on the behavior and not the child. Discuss as a class what happened and why that action was taken. 8. We need a "time out space", SSC is too severe and principal is only for big deals. Hall is an option. In the room is, space wise, not possible.

Comments:
The evening's facilitator did a great job guiding us through the process. The teacher whose problem was discussed felt affirmed and said she felt the need to discuss the issue in her class. All said the process felt good.