It's All About Respect
I am having a bad day. I've been a teacher for over 15 years and have learned to deal with a lot of things about my job that are less than positive: low pay, long hours, frustrating school board policies, lazy coworkers-the list can go on forever. But I continue to do my job to the best of my ability day in and day out for one reason and one reason only: the children.
I am the teacher who goes the extra mile by doing things like volunteering my time to teach my students on Saturdays. I get up early just so I can go and pick up students who don't have transportation to school to make sure they get there. I spend an hour or two nightly on the telephone and the internet helping my students with their homework or talking with parents about how they can help their children excel at school. I even spent a recent Saturday teaching a parent how to do fractions so he could help his son with them at home. If my students let me know that they do not have enough food to eat at home-I purchase groceries for them. If my students need socks or underwear-I buy it for them. I do whatever it takes to help my students get into the mindset that no matter the circumstances they are in they have the power to pull themselves out and create their own excellent life by getting an education.
I do a lot and can tolerate a lot but there is absolutely one things that I will not put up with: DISRESPECT. I currently teach fifth grade and was subjected to a student who has behavior issues showing blatant disrespect to me by rolling his eyes, clicking his tongue, yelling, turning his back to me when I was talking to him, and refusing to go to the office when he was told to do so. He has been written up 15 times in the past 5 months for acting this way and being disrespectful to various teachers and staff. After speaking with the boys parents on numerous occasions his behavior has not improved. This boy feels that he has a right to act the way he does whenever he feels like it no matter the circumstances and his behavior is only made worse by his mother who refuses to keep him in line.
Letter To Mom
I have this message for his mother: It's all about respect. You are not doing your child any favors by not making him accountable for his behavior. It may be easier for you ignore his disrespect at home but he is not at home 24 hours a day. Your son spends the majority of his time outside of your house interacting with other people who do not deserve nor welcome his abusive behavior. He is extremely lucky that he hasn't come into contact with anyone yet who will give him the reality check he so badly needs and deserves.
By not parenting your child you are setting him up to be "parented" by society at large. When he gets older he will come into contact with a police officer or other authority figure who has the power to make him act appropriately and he will learn a lesson then he should have learned in childhood. Jails and prisons are filled with individuals who acted inappropriately and disrespectfully and if you do not begin parenting your son he will find himself a guest at one of our overcrowded state sponsored facilities.
Disrespect is not a natural behavior it is a learned behavior. By your allowing him to talk back and roll his eyes at you without a consequence you reinforces his belief that his antisocial behavior is acceptable and he can act any way he chooses to as long as he gets his way. By justifying his bad behavior and placing the blame for his lack of respect on the actions of someone else you show him that he doesn't have to be accountable for his own actions. Just asking the question, "Well what did so and so do to make him act the way he did?" shows not only your unwillingness to make him accountable for his behavior but also shows your unwillingness to accept your responsibility as a parent to teach him right from wrong.
Your son is on a one way path to unhappiness if you don't do something about it NOW! In a few years he will be a teenager with raging hormones and it will simply be too late. If you refuse to step up and teach your son the fundamental lesson that you need to treat others with the same respect you wish to receive from them he will remain socially crippled and his life will be a reflection of the negativity he perpetuates by his own behavior.
This particular student went on to middle school and unfortunately experienced many of the negative consequences that I listed in the letter I wished I could have sent his mother. He has been suspended several times and his dreams of being a professional football player have been derailed due to negative behavior. Hopefully he will pull it together despite his mother not teaching him the basic concepts of right and wrong.