Two veteran public school teachers “lost it” last week over student misbehavior. A Tennessee algebra teacher tried vainly to quiet his class as students talked, laughed, walked around, and mocked him. Finally, he said, “You want entertainment?” and then promptly smashed a desk and hurled chairs. He was placed on administrative leave. In New York, a music teacher “snapped,” pushing a misbehaving student against a locker and throwing a backpack at him. He too is on administrative leave.
And it’s only October.
While the teachers’ loss of control is unacceptable, so too is a classroom environment that makes learning impossible. Certainly, the litigious atmosphere in schools is partly to blame—teachers have few options for dealing with unruly students. (Typical classroom “behavior contracts” offer rewards for good behavior but no consequences for bad behavior.)
But a large measure of responsibility falls on our shoulders as parents. When even good students text during class, talk out loud, or speak disrespectfully to teachers, it’s a failure of parenting more than a failure of the schools. It’s up to us to hold our children to a higher standard, one that shows respect in dress, tone of voice, words, and actions. And it all starts at home.
How to Save Your Family By Teaching Respect
Walk through the halls of nearly any school and you are likely to see motivational posters declaring the need for “respect” in the school community. But posters do little good when students don’t have a clue what “respect” looks like. That’s our job.
Label respectful and disrespectful behavior for your child. Eye-rolling, heavy sighs, and body language should not be tolerated at home. Insist that your child listen to others’ viewpoints, and express his or her own views, with a thoughtful demeanor. Because the pop culture models sneering sarcasm and disrespect as the norm, it’s easy for our children to assume that the norm is acceptable. The earlier you teach a child the right way to behave, the more likely they are to live that way throughout their lives.