Teenagers and Teachers
Jun 07 ’01

The Bottom Line I would very much like it if teachers could support their students. They have too much to deal with as it is, let alone being belittled by their teachers.

Being a teenager in this day and age is difficult enough. We all know that. And we also know that times and circumstances have changed. I’m 36 years old and I know that when I was a teenager things were so different. My parents trusted my fr riends, my parents trusted me and I knew this, which is why seeing what is happening today is so disturbing.

I know that parental love and guidance is key to a well-rounded, respectful, and healthy teenager. But what I’d like to focus on at this point is the relationship between a teenager,specifically middle school aged kids and their teachers.

I’ve had the honor of knowing a certain young man all of his 15 years. I will refer to him as “Chris.” He e’s smart, funny, and a joy to know. However, he has been a challenge to his parents from pre-school to present because he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) when he was in the fourth grade. Beginning in preschool, Ch

hris was a challenge to his teachers. He would get bored easily with structure. He would become “ansy” if he had to sit for long periods of time. But give him something challenging to accomplish with his hands, or give him something fun to do which took intricate work, and he was engrossed until it was finished.

Because of the constant things that the teachers had to do, like repeatedly tell him to sit down, be quiet, sit still, don’t interrupt.. on and on and on.. the other children became to dislike him, and didn’t tolerate his “immaturity” well at all.

Chris was prescribed Ritalin in the fourth grade, and it seemed to help him to concentrate better but by th hen it was too late; his “reputation” as a child who was constantly yelled at by the teachers preceeded him, and from that point on he was branded as someone who is “annoying” and who “doesn’t know how to stop” his annoying behavior.

The point I’m getting to is this: In the history that I’ve known this boy, his life has been one of self-protection, denial, and anger. Yet in spite of it all, he’s never broken down and succumbed to

o the pressures of making the worst decisions in life. His parents have raised him to know what is good and bad; what is right and wrong. I admire them for that.

Chris’ mother once called me, crying, when he was in third grade. His teacher, a teacher the mother remembers having when she was in the same elementary school, had lost control of the classroom. There was a group of children standing in the room, all of them talking; being noisy. Her son was in that group of kids, each one of them being disruptive. It was witnessed by another teacher who happened to be walking the hall that afternoon, that the teacher went into that group of kids, pushed them aside and went straight for Chris. She yanked him by the arm so hard that his body spun around. She then proceeded to bring her arm back and she hit him with her entire force so that the teacher who was standing there heard it like a shot had gone off. Chris’ teacher then put her face into his and told him “YOU get back in your SEAT, and do not MOVE until I tell you too!” The te

eacher walking the halls that day had the guts to tell the principal about it. Once the parents knew, they demanded that this teacher be suspended. And she was. For one lousy day.

More recently, in Chris’ middle school years, the teachers have heard all about Chris’ troubles. He is not supported at all. Kids in the school have called him “Beaver” ever since fourth grade, because his teeth needed braces and since his parents have done that, the kids still tease him because in their eyes, he will always be this “annoying” kid who has this stigma placed upon him. Teachers are biased against him – teachers talk about students, that is natural. But what I don’t think is acceptable, EVER, is when the teachers themselves become a part of this cruel game.
One day Chris’ class had a substitute teacher and this teacher, never having met Chris, got caught up in the “Beaver” nickname. He’d say, “Beaver, come get your paper.” Chris told him in a mature manner to please not call him Beaver, he didn’t like that – his name is Chris, please call him that. The teacher looked at him, kind of laughed and said, “Well you are a

sensitive kid aren’t you? Stop being so sensitive!” What kind of behavior is that from a teacher?

Most recently Chris was in a school play, for his drama class. His drama teacher, being a very impatient woman anyway, had no patience what-so-ever for Chris, or for anyone else in her class. She even went to the extreme to embarrass Chris in front of the class when he didn’t bring his “props” to school, which were cupcakes and potato chips. She said for all the class to hear, “Chris, you should tell your mom that she’d better be more considerate.” Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but is a teacher supposed to belittle a kid’s parent to them? I think not.

The last straw was when the drama class had a party to celebrate 6 weeks of hard work. The kids were eating pizza, listening to music. having a really nice time. Everyone was laughing; his drama teacher came up to Chris, and loudly said, “Chris! This summer you need to work on that laugh. It is so annoying! In fact, it’s so annoying that I’m positive that if you don’t change it over the summer, that when you get into the High School next year, they’ll beat you up!” All the kids laughed.. and you know? I’m going to bet that that is what they’re all planning to do right now to “break him in” when school begins in two months.

I would like to say to all the parents out there: It’s not just the kids who are bullies. We need to really listen to our children when they say that the teachers aren’t doing their jobs. And it’s not just a case of “Boy, I really can’t stand my teacher, he/she is so boring!” These days it’s “I wish my teacher weren’t so cruel.”

And all of you teachers out there? Please. Before you demean and belittle one of your students, ask yourself. how would you like it if your peers spoke to you like you were this insignificant spot of dirt on the floor? That is exactly what you make these kids feel like. Is that why you became teachers? To show how much control you have over someone who looks to you for guidance? If so,I am truly sorry. But I feel more sorry for these kids who have to put up with bullying from students and from the teachers who are supposed to support and protect them. Do your jobs. Don’t make these kids dread to have to wake up and feel sick to go to school.

Thank you for taking the time to read my opinion. I wish for all students peace in their lives; and I wish for all teachers to remember exactly why they are teachers.

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