Category Archives: punishment

Defiance and Disrespect

Have you ever had an uncomfortable encounter with a student who was defiant and disrespectful?
I have, and on more than one occasion.
I am always shocked when this happens because I feel that I am the opposite, or at least I try to be.
When it seems that I’m not, then I apologize and try to make amends.

I’ve been thinking about this lately because perhaps I’m too easy on kids when they behave inappropriately.
I talk too much and explain things too carefully.
Maybe, I need to be a little firmer when these situations arise.
Fewer words and zero tolerance.
Of course, we all make mistakes, including me, so there’s always the opportunity to make amends.
But, when students are recalcitrant and have no regrets for their actions, I worry.
It makes me think that there’s a powder keg in there ready to explode.

How can I help a student like this reflect on his or her actions in order to make retribution?
How can we help children learn how to handle emotions and think before acting?
How can we teach the child who doesn’t seem to care who she or he offends with his actions
that there are boundaries of respect and consideration
that need to be observed if we are to work well together?
How can teachers effect change in student behavior without resorting to punishment?

Sometimes I feel alone with these questions.
When teachers feel a student has been defiant, they are often looking for ways to get revenge.
Yes, revenge.
I know this sounds severe but I truly think this is what happens:
I’ve been wronged, now you need to pay.
Instead, I want students to learn from their mistakes.
This process should not be easy or unduly difficult, either.

Learning to be respectful means that we own our mistakes and recognize our false steps.
It is about making amends to ourselves and to others.
It is about learning how to live with others peacefully.

Schools need to take the lead in this area.
Are they?

Leave a comment

Filed under disrespect, learning, making amends, punishment, retribution