Attempting to understand the students who strike out against me.

For the first time in 12 months my house & cars were egged.  It used to be a regular occurrence. Every 2 to 3 weeks we would be hit on a Saturday night.  At the time it started I was relieving deputy at school. I live in the suburb of the high school I teach at so I put it down to an occupational hazard. We talked about putting up surveillance cameras but I don’t want to turn my house into a high security facility.  We had a new principal at the school and she was changing structures and expectations for the better. Predictably, there was about 1% of students who railed against that.  

At first I was upset about the attacks, not that I showed it. Then I started to blame myself. I spent hours examining my own behaviour management style. I am not authoritarian. I prefer to have clear expectations that I teach. I give clear warnings then issue already negotiated consequences. I take the same approach when deputy. I’m not a yeller and definitely do not use fear to get compliance. I like to give students an opportunity to calm down and a chance to be heard. But in my new, temporary role, was I doing something wrong? Why should students feel the need to hit back at me when I was being fair and consistent?

Then I started to think about the egger. What sort of person feels the need to egg a teacher’
s house every 2 to 3 weeks. I came to the conclusion that it was about control, or their lack of it. I think that in spite of how I dealt with students there would be a small number who, because of the lack of control in their home life, felt the need to strike out and exert control over their situation. My role at school should be to engender a sense of control for these students within the boundaries of school expectations. I wanted to find ways to make them feel more in control.  I spoke with teachers who work in different behaviour units. They all agreed that there is a small group of students who often strike out at the people who show them boundaries and enforce them in a clear and consistent way. Not because they are railing against discipline but because they don’t know how to deal with someone treating that way. They do not cope with the kindness of fair and constitent behaviour management. I could never catch who it was. I don’t know what they live with on a daily basis. 

Which brings me to the recent egging. I haven’t been at school for all of 2014. I have not had anything to do with any student in this time and still they feel the need to egg my house. It may have been for old times sake but it saddens me that they still feel the need to gain control by attacking my house. What do I represent to them that makes them want to strike out against me? I think teachers need much more training in the psychology of children, particularly the 5% on whom regular school based behaviour management does not work. I don’t think I have the necessary skills to do this, but I will keep muddling along doing the best I can, learning more as I go. We’re complex creatures, the human race.


5 thoughts on “Attempting to understand the students who strike out against me.

  1. Corinne Campbell January 2, 2015 at 3:54 am Reply

    Oh Jen, that’s just awful. And no one should have to put up with it. Your work life, spilling over into your personal life like that, in such a destructive and hurtful way. I’m glad you’ve stopped blaming yourself and I admire how much compassion you show to those who do this to your house. Stay strong.

    • jenglish2013 January 2, 2015 at 4:03 am Reply

      Thanks Corinne. I’ve tried to be as zen as possible about it. But there are miments when i scrubbing sun dried egg protein off my windows that i dream if having them charged with malicious damage! Then i move on 🙂

  2. Kelly January 2, 2015 at 5:44 am Reply

    The way you’ve been able to think about students who act like they have is remarkable. I admire your compassion and ability to understand that for some kids, bad behaviour isn’t personal – they just know no other way. Where I grew up, this kind of behavior was normal, except of course, that it shouldn’t be. Lashing out at teachers and other frontline authority figures reflects some deeper malaise within a child and their community 😦

  3. Paul January 2, 2015 at 6:16 pm Reply

    Find out who they are, call the parents , if the parents don’t give a crap, slash the tyres of the parents, smash their windows and then they may understand.. Then go home and watch Deliverance with a smile on your face.. Karma’s a bitch..

    • jenglish2013 January 2, 2015 at 8:38 pm Reply

      Hahaha. I might just let the karma take care of its self.

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