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yankeetooter's avatar

What can one possibly do in this situation?

Asked by yankeetooter (8156 points ) January 14th, 2013

I work at a school for kids with behavioral problems. The past month or two, the kids have been becoming progressively more and more out of control. In the past, we always all met and came up with a plan of how to handle certain situations…the plan didn’t always work perfectly, but there was a plan.

Lately, there has been no plan. Administration seems to have given up. The students come into class and act disruptively, are sent out, and are sent right back because the resource room can not control them.

This situation has become unacceptable to me, but I don’t know what to do. I realized a while back that this job has become the major source of stress in my life, and is even starting to affect my health. I am the only source of income in my household (I live alone). The economy is terrible, but I feel like I might walk out on my job soon if things do not improve. Help!

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11 Answers

Pachy's avatar

First, I applaud you loudly (hear it???) for giving this a shot. I can only guess how difficult it must be. And now, let me say this. I think you have to decide which is more important to you: trying to keep working with these kids or taking care of your own health and sanity. You alone have to make that choice, and . whichever it is, don’t let anyone else second-guess you. Also, keep this in mind: this is a decision that is not irreversible. If you take some time to nurture yourself, there may come a day when you’re ready to return to teaching.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I join @Pachyderm_In_The_Room‘s applause. I really hope you can hear it.

It’s impossible to give sound advice over the Internet in a situation like this. There are so many unknown variables, such as your credentials, achievements, and what your resume looks like overall. With that said, teaching is a seasonal occupation, and the hiring does not happen at any time one wishes. It’s based on the school year.

However, there are alternatives: substitute teaching. Should you decide to quit your present circumstances, how difficult would it be to get a substitute teaching credential in your locality? I have friends who work full-time as substitute teachers. If you’re skilled at managing a classroom of students with behavioral problems, you should be able to handle being a substitute.

Without more information, I don’t know what other options to offer.

Stress is a killer. I hate it, and I wish we could all avoid it altogether. It’s a fact of life, though. Will quitting this job lessen or add to your daily stress?

yankeetooter's avatar

I am an assistant teacher with no degree as of yet…and I am school…and I am studying computer programming. I have been very successful so far, but I am a way off from accomplishing anything. I just don’t know what to do any more…

YARNLADY's avatar

Perhaps you could initiate a meeting similar to the ones which were held in the past. Let your supervisor know you need a plan.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

This time I’m joining @YARNLADY‘s idea. I recommend you ask for a meeting with whomever is in charge of your school and explain your concerns. This situation can’t be good for anyone involved, students or you.

Bellatrix's avatar

I also concur with @YARNLADY. Take the initiative and talk to your supervisor about organising a brainstorming session to develop a new plan. Do you have ideas about how to resolve the problem? Bring them to the meeting. I am a great believer in not just citing problems but offering solutions or at least ideas for discussion. Do some research. Take an evidence-based approach. What new ideas are out there in your field? You have access to databases – go and do some reading on how other organisations are approaching managing unruly behaviour. I am sure there must be some work in this field.

Good luck and I too applaud you for taking on this role. It is challenging and I hope you can a. get some support with this problem and b. find some time to take even a short break to help you get some distance from the problem.

marinelife's avatar

Start looking while you are still employed.

burntbonez's avatar

Do you have a union? If working conditions are dangerous or at least against the contract, then you can file a grievance and hopefully force management to pay attention and do something.

Otherwise, pester your supervisor to develop a plan. This could be dangerous.

Sunny2's avatar

A school like that should be having weekly meetings to discuss issues. Speak to the principal about doing that. You’re not the only one having problems. It sounds like the staff has given up if there are no set processes for handling difficult students. There are also rules about how many students you should be required to have in such a class. If the principal isn’t responsive to your problems, you may have to see if you can talk to a member of the school board.

CWOTUS's avatar

@YARNLADY has the right answer here, short and simple as it is. It doesn’t matter what business or industry you’re in, if there are not effective and workable policies for handling difficult situations (and people), then management is not doing its job. That leads to increased stress to all employees.

So much of the problem seems to stem from management not wanting to be (or appear to be) “unpopular” and “unfair”. This leads to stupid policies for, say, “anti-violence” which starts as “don’t bring guns to school”, a policy that makes a lot of sense, and then devolves to “don’t talk about guns at school” and finally morphs into “don’t mimic a gun with a thumb up and forefinger extended and say the word ‘bang!’”

Policies such as that in a school are simple to “enforce”, since every time kids don’t act like robots, saying nothing unless called upon and then saying only exactly what they’ve been programmed to say, they can be “disciplined” by expelling them from the room or the school.

On the other hand, when administrators can’t think or don’t think about “effective enforcement of sensible policies”, you end up with what you have described: no control at all, and not even an appearance of control.

There is a happy medium, but it takes real work on the part of administrators (and support from teachers and other classroom resources such as the OP) to make it work. I hope you can get to that point. It’s not just you who needs that, but the kids in that school, too.

At least you have a choice to say, “Meh, this isn’t working. I’m outta here.” Those kids don’t have that option.

yankeetooter's avatar

No union…sigh!

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