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I really admire your approach to the situation with your fourth period class. Not only did I enjoy reading about it but I think it may serve as a rough script for other new teachers experiencing similar problems. Please continue sharing your experiences - I am learning a great deal.

Aaron Campbell

Maybe its time for teachers to say 'no' to an educational system that isn't set up for learning? How can we expect any given group of teenagers to 'behave', to 'sit in their chairs', to follow rules, when clearly it is not what they want to be doing? What would they rather be doing? Playing sports or video games? Learning how to make their own movies? Doing nothing? What can we do as educators to change this archaic system of education that is in great conflict with the instrinsic factors of motivation in young minds? Why should they be forcefully isolated from what truly interests them?

I wish I had answers for these questions. I have no idea what I would do in your situation, other than cope with my stress the best I could. I wish you the best with everything.


I so didn't want to be a formal, old school teacher. But my reality is that I can't take them into the computer lab or trust them with my video equipment until I trust them. Without mucho boundries, and a little kick in the butt, they are so disruptive that only about half the kids get what I'm trying to do half of the time. Chaos and confusion ensues.

But, I will definitely hate every moment of my little speech. I want so much for it to be different.


I teach first grade, so I can't completely sympathize with you... but know that these problems start YOUNG. It never fails to amaze me how many 6 and 7 year olds lack respect for teachers and other authority figures. It can be very discouraging. Hang in there! :-)

miss t

wow. i think i am going to have to borrow this little speech for my 3rd period class. i don't want to be that teacher either but when they are so blatantly disrespectful what else am i supposed to do?

the village idiot


17.The one who has a headache needs to remember that those who caused or helped cause it aren't having one.

18. Teacher, don't cry. Nobody else is.

19. Being stressed and tense anytime is bad.

20. Being relaxed is good.

21. Haste makes waste.

22. The turtle does beat the hare and sees much more.

23. Don't blamestorm with anyone.

24. A teacher or anyone who frets, worrys or complains about what he or she cannot change becomes unproductive.

25. Don't allow anthing to gnaw.

26. Relax.


Ah, Hipteacher, you have hit upon dilemn No.1 for teachers and the reason why you hear teachers say, "Be very strict from day one, then you can relax the rules a bit." I've taught grades 1-5 and it never ceases to amaze me that the same things go on in each grade level. The getting up to go to the bathroom, to talk, to mess around. If it doesn't change from grades 1-5, it probably doesn't change into High School. (And, I do professional development--guess, what? Teachers do it, too! Grading papers, talking, passing notes, going to the bathroom--all instead of listening and following along. It's just a human thing--we resist doing what we haven't CHOSEN to do.) So, we have to live with the fact that a lot of teaching is moving groups of human beings from one activity to another, often without their consent. What do we do? Be strict about the rules and what is acceptable. Thank students for following them. And, when you trust them, you can relax the rules a bit, knowing that THEY know what's acceptable and YOU know they're working. Be prepared for struggle with the rules right before holidays and vacations. Decide what's acceptable. Don't get a sour stomache about it. As my good friend says, "It ain't nuthin' but a thang!" A human thang, that is.


hip- I will also borrow your script. It is unfortunate that it has to be said, but it does. Our kids do not know what 'appropriate' classroom behavior really is; most of them probably do not have the stability or structure in their lives. I have had to leave my class on a few occasions - to take fighting students to the office, etc., and have come back to my room with students at my desk, near my unlocked closet, etc. I have been strict, but even that takes energy and time away from instruction. The system sucks a**.


I went through four years in a faculty of education before realizing that I couldn't tolerate what you've described so eloquently here. I just didn't have the fortitude to deal with constant disagreement and discipline issues, so I never even applied for a teaching job anywhere. It sounds like you're handling it well, but it sure doesn't sound like much fun.

I find myself asking the same kinds of questions as Aaron did above -- when smart, committed teachers like you get so frustrated, there's something wrong with the system.


wow... so well put! i will use that tomorrow with MY 4th period class.


Great speech, but do also try to remember that school is somewhat boring, and sometimes, acting up is more fun than doing the work, too.
Make the work fun, and keep the rules consistent (not strict, consistent), and more kids will be on your side.
At no point in your life, other than a driving test, really, have you been so circumscribed as the education system asks our children to be. As Nancy said, it's human to resist.

Don't forget what it was like to be on the other side of the speech you're giving. Best of luck.

As posted above, "It's just a human thing--we resist doing what we haven't CHOSEN to do." And there's the rub- we (as teachers) impose rules on young people who are (for all intents and purposes) much more capable than we credit them. They are more sophisticated in many ways, but we stuff them into the industrial model and expect them to "behave." After 10 years in all sorts of classrooms (1 to post-grad), this is what I've learned: Even the most difficult, challenging, needy, low-level student can take part in a conversation about expectations for behavior. They can (and do) enforce rules that they help to make. They don't respect us because (for the most part) our behaviors demonstrate our lack of respect for them- and the days of "respect me because I'm your elder" are long, long over. As I like to tell the folks in my classes- it's not 1954 anymore, and 1954 isn't coming back.


Brilliant. Secondary teachers everywhere should bow down to your gold-framed image. May I refer you to this blog:


There are some excellent discussions there, about schools, behavior of young people, etc, that I think you'd be interested in.

Again, that was an excellent post. Thank you for sharing.


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