I’ve listened to my co-workers complain all year about how rude, snotty, mean-spirited, and lazy the students at our school are. At first, I was puzzled. Compared to my previous workplace (which was rife with drugs, sex, and violence), the students here are angels. They are engaged in learning, seek their teachers out for extra help when it’s needed, are polite, and are just generally extremely fun to teach.
I wish I could remain under this enchantment, but I’m starting to understand some of my co-workers complaints. Over the past few days I have witnessed several students (none of my own, thankfully) being rude, mean-spirited, and just generally acting like JERK FACES.
Instance #1: While helping a fellow teacher set up for a lab activity in her class, one of the senior boys, Jimmy, who had chosen his lab table called out to another boy, “Hey Peter! Come over here. Peter! Peter! Over here.” Peter most definitely heard Jimmy asking him to be his partner. Peter pretended not to hear and joined another table with much cooler boys. I’m not one to let things like this slide, so I glance up at Peter and say coolly, “Come on, man. You’re going to ignore Jimmy? He’s been calling you for the past minute. Not cool.” Peter’s face turned red, and the teacher, also perturbed, then switched all the groups herself. (Fortunately we have a good enough relationship that she didn’t mind me butting in.)
Instance #2: During one of my break periods today, I could hear some girls conversing in the science room next door very loudly before class began. The conversation went something like this:
“Oh my god, you will not BELIEVE what happened. Mrs. Robertson came into the bathroom when I was in there, and she STARTED TALKING TO ME! I HATE when teachers do that. I’m like, why are you talking to me? Yeah, she said, ‘Hi, Bethany, how are you?’ We’re in the bathroom. Oh, and then she TOUCHED my shoulder! Ugh, I know! I’m like, what are you a perv?”
I very nearly marched in there to proclaim, “Yes, clearly a teacher being friendly to you and speaking to you as if you are an actual person is clearly out of line!” Somehow I restrained myself. The teacher she was talking about is, incidentally, known as one of the kindest, most soft-spoken teachers on our campus.
Instance #3: While walking down the hall during the same off-period, some students were sitting in the hall (allowable, as it was their study hall period). I overhear one young man say rather loudly, “I pay $25000 a year to go to this damn school. Why should I care about the freakin’ rules?” I stopped and slowly (and rather dramatically) turned around and stared him down. One of his friends noticed me and started hitting him in the shoulder, whispering, “Language, dude, language!” I simply shook my head, and turned back around saying, “No, not just language, guys. Attitude, too. Language AND attitude.” After witnessing this last display of teenage snobbery, I was feeling quite ill-tempered. I returned to my room and vented about the behavior of the students in all of these stories to a colleague.
Then something unexpected happened. The young man from instance #3 appeared at my door and apologized profusely and sincerely. I suppose there is always hope for the next generation after all. 🙂
(As a humorous aside, when I was looking for images related to “apology” and “sorry” to include in this post, Tiger Woods kept showing up.)