By CLAY BROOKFIELD
El Molino High School, Junior, 16
Dealing with teens who have been forced to sit in classrooms all day can be a tricky job. Many teachers in America struggle to understand the mysteries of the high school student. They fail to see the fragility of a developing and struggling mind. Teachers often fail to make a connection with a student and instead spark an ongoing conflict between pupil and mentor. Teachers need to stop and treat each student as an individual instead of lumping them into a pre-defined label, such as “troublemaker” or “disruptive student.”
Teenagers manage with all sorts of stress and conflict in their lives. Whether it’s dealing with an alcoholic or abusive parent or trying to cope with depression from lack of self confidence, teens ar
e expected to put aside all of their problems when they enter the classroom and conform to the model role of a perfect student.
Understandably, teachers shouldn’t be expected to realize all of these problems, especially when kids do a pretty good job at masking their emotions at school. But when a student reacts to a teacher with hostility, the teacher needs to consider that the student may be dealing with more than they realize. But when you deal with 90-plus students a day, it is not uncommon for these signs to be overlooked. As well as a need for deeper understanding, there is a need for situations to be handled differently.
Both student and teacher behavior in the class can be disrespectful at times. Some students believe they shouldn’t have to deal with school and wrongly take out their anger toward the school system by attacking teachers who are just trying to help kids learn skills deemed valuable for their future.
But teachers on occasion act with a level of unprofessionalism, usually with good intentions. A student may have skipped out on their homework or an essay because of troubles at home. And when a teacher dresses the student down by calling them out in front of their peers, they could possibly be pushing that kid’s emotions over the edge. This is when situations where a student harshly snaps back at a teacher happen.
A level of respect is expected for all attending students. Many teens believe this respect isn’t returned when they are belittled and embarrassed in front of an entire class. It is not unconventional to try and motivate a student through shame, but a more civil solution would be to always handle issues after the class is over, so as to really have a one on one and get to the reason why they didn’t do their assignment instead of just scolding them for not doing it.
It goes without saying that this type of student-teacher interaction asks a lot of both the teacher and teen. It requires both to cooperate to try to solve the issue or at least come to an understanding about why the student didn’t do the assigned work.
This will most definitely not work in many situations where the student is unable to put forth the effort to try and establish a connection with the teacher. But it is prudent that the attempt is at least made to give teens a chance to express their feelings. In doing so, the gap between teachers understanding teens and teens understanding the hardships of teaching would be reduced. Hopefully, this also would help to eliminate some of the bitterness students hold toward the teachers who work so hard to try and help them achieve greatness.
The deep collaboration between students and their teachers may never be reached. But if steps are made each day to show respect on both ends, then classrooms once again may be a comfortable place for learning and sharing ideas. Students who may want to learn, but are held back by personal issues, should have the opportunity to voice where they stand. The importance of teaching cannot be stressed enough. But teachers also should be caring about the feelings of students because if one neglects to nurture the feelings and emotions in teens, what will they grow up to be?