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I am distressed by the attention paid to the bus monitor from Greece. Isn't it our job as adults to monitor, teach and supervise young people? Wasn't that her job?
I sincerely believe that there needs to be an environment of discipline for young people. It is created not by fear but by mutual respect. If a young person oversteps and refuses to take responsibility for his or her behavior, there must be consequences. The first student who acted out on that bus should have been reported at the school.
My opinion is based on my experiences as a teacher. Students expect to have an environment of discipline. I have severe scoliosis. One day I took three seventh-grade students out to study animals on the grounds of the Buffalo Zoo. (My school, Dr. Charles R. Drew, was on the grounds of the zoo.) I realized the girls were imitating my shoulder drop. I told them we were going inside to the school office to talk. I said, "I see you have noticed my back." I explained what scoliosis is and how lucky they were to live in New York, where State Education Law mandates scoliosis screening once a year for students in grades five through nine.
I suggested that the girls each write me a letter about what they had learned that day. In addition to their apologies, I remember such comments as, "I thank God every day that I have a normal back." The next year I taught these young ladies mathematics. They were delightful. Lesson learned.
The young people mocking the bus monitor knew they were wrong even as they acted out. I believe they wanted to be stopped. When a student acted out in my classroom, I would ask to speak to him or her in the hallway. I am less than 5 feet tall. I would look up at the miscreant and say, "Well ." The student would always promise to be quiet or stop the behavior. I would then say, "OK. Let's return to the classroom." The point was made.
Another story: I was the third eighth-grade math teacher since September at a school in Buffalo. The previous two had quit. I received this information from the students themselves, who looked at me much as the wolf must have looked at Red Riding Hood. I obtained as many phone numbers as possible from the office. The next weekend, I spent several hours calling as many parents and guardians as possible. I simply introduced myself as the new math teacher and asked for their cooperation. Every one said, "Call anytime." The following Monday, the students told me that I was the first of the three teachers who actually had called their homes. They knew I intended to teach. I stayed until the end of the school year.
And then there was Willie. We took our students to the school cafeteria for testing. Willie kept sticking his foot out to trip other students. I said, "Cut it out!" When I caught him again, I took his arm and directed him to stand away from everyone. The next day I was called to the office because someone needed to speak to me. I entered and extended my hand saying, "Hello, I'm Mrs. Harlos. How may I help you?" The man laughed and introduced himself as Willie's uncle. The boy said I had thrown him up against a locker! His uncle had pictured me as a big "bruiser woman" (his words, not mine.) We called Willie to the office. He admitted he had been trying to get even with me and apologized. We shook hands. Six months later, Willie acted as one of two "bodyguards" (I had the money) when we took students on a trip to New York City.
Be an adult. Stand up for what is right. Young people expect it from you.