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Tough Love is the Best Teacher

Updated on September 5, 2012

This is a good year

This year brought a welcome change in the size and composition of my classes. My classes are much smaller and, unlike past classes, all students in all classes are participating. The most significant change is the absence of students who presented discipline problems in the past.

Angry student lash out

Many students come to school hiding rage and frustration with their home situations. They walk into class with chips on their shoulders and “cruising for a bruising.” Many of the students are in violent, abusive home situations with one parent and the parent’s significant other. Quite a few students live in foster homes. The anger brewing inside often causes them to “flip the script” and strike out.

and then they are sorry

When I turned in my lists for advanced classes this year, I omitted eight girls who consistently showed defiance and disrespect in the past. This year all eight have approached me, individually, asking to be in my class. Their demeanor is quite different from what was displayed last year. Each practically sang my name saying “Hey Mrs. Trotter!” I could almost see the halos around their heads and their feet rising from the ground as their wings flapped.

Last year was a nightmare

Five months ago I had to have security physically remove one of these angels as she swore she was going to get me fired. One told her grandmother that everything I said was a lie. When I contacted one parent about her daughter’s behavior, the parent said, “I heard you are disrespectful too.” There was a mass revolt when I told these young ladies they couldn’t dance to Chris Brown’s sexually explicit song, Strip.

Tough Love Soft Heart

My heart says I should let these young ladies come back to choir, after I have gone over the rules about respect and cooperation. My head is telling me that it will be hard to get them out of the class if they should return to their usual behavior. Going through the discipline ladder disrupts class and frustrates the students who do show respect and cooperate. This is a moral and spiritual dilemma. Do you have any advice?

Vocal Ensemble Winter Concert

Tough Love is the Best Teacher

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    • dianetrotter profile imageAUTHOR

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 

      6 years ago from Fontana

      Thank you Monica! I spoke with a vice principal about it today. He also agrees. He said if they stay out for a year and understand what is required they will be more inclined to cooperate.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I whole heartly agree with gecko's reponse this class is not mandatory but a privilege. Those who cannot not follow the rules should not be allowed to particpate. It has come to a situation in schools now that we must have a zero tolerance for disruptive behavior in school. When these students entered the "real world" there will be zero tolerance for their actions. Go with your first instincts and do not allow those students to return to the class and make you regret your decision. Tough Love is the Best Teacher.

    • dianetrotter profile imageAUTHOR

      G. Diane Nelson Trotter 

      6 years ago from Fontana

      Thank you gecko! It is so frustrating but I agree with you.

    • thegecko profile image

      Warren Samu 

      6 years ago from San Diego, CA

      You're fighting an uphill battle. Teachers are losing more and more of their disciplinary power inside the classroom and without the commitment of parents to try and correct behavior at home, you're not left with many options.

      Choir is not necessary nor mandatory. Let your students earn the privilege to be there. If you know their home situation has not changed and you will be facing a repeat of last year, follow your tough instincts.

      Do not sacrifice your class for the needs of a few who do not and would not show the respect required for the success of you and your other students.


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