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Oh, you kid (longish and irritated)


c green

As I pass by, Kiddo X (my walking disaster of an eighth grader), reaches out a hand and yanks a hair elastic out of little Maria's textbook, where she's been using it for a place marker. (All names changed to protect the innocent and the guilty.)

I stop. "OK, Kiddo X, give me that," I say.


"What you just took from Maria's desk."

"I didn't take anything. It's mine, I just put it over there." (I also have a kid who when told "Stop doing that," shouts "I didn't even make no gun noises.")

"Give it to me."

"Whaaaaat? I told you, I didn't take anything. OK, OK, here!" Holds out a hand with...four buttons.


"No, what you took from Maria's book. Give it to me."

"These are my buttons, Achmed will tell you. Right Achmed?" Achmed is happy to stop doing work and agree with this.

"I'll talk to you after class, Kiddo X," I say, and turn away. While he protests, he opens his other hand. Hair elastic. "That." I say. "Give that to me."

"Give me my buttons first." Aaaargh. I get the silly elastic. I bring it back to Maria, who hadn't noticed it was gone.

While people are illustrating our vocabulary words, we talk. Rather, I talk, and he stares past me and laughs uproariously at Achmed and another kid who are fooling around. I repeat, calmly and quietly, about eight times, that he took another person's property, lied about it, and is not being respectful to me.

He returns, when I can get his attention, that he didn't kill anyone, it's not a big deal, the elastic was his, he found it on the floor, OK, OK, if it makes me happy, he took it, am I happy now? The reason he's not talking is because I jump down his throat about everything, I'm always being mean to him.

Around round six he says "Oh, oh, are you calling me a thief now?"

I say "Kiddo X, that is the word we use for someone who takes another person's things without permission."

OK, rant over. What a stupid mess, over a rubber band! I've asked our VP to meet with me and this kid, but he's not going to bother unless I nag him to death, and maybe not then. I feel kind of tapped out with this kid--he's really going to sink like a rock in high school, and all his teachers here are worried to death, but apparently the administration isn't going to care until he's guest starring on COPS.

He will be the guy with the bag of cocaine that was not his, he was holding it for a friend, and he did not know what was in it, and actually it was not his friend's, he just found it on the street, and was going to bring it to the police anyway, and anyway, he didn't kill anyone, so what's the big deal, and the police have to give him his car keys back, those are his keys, and they can't take them.

Maria will probably be the cadet riding along for the arrest. She wants to go into the Navy after high school.


New Member
I hear you

Isn't terrible but I have some kids (5th grade) that I look at and think I hope I'm around long enough to see you on COPS. Because I know that what ever they did it surely won't be their fault.


Senior Member
That kid IS good at something besides stealing and lying - hijacking the class with his agenda. He was engaging in a power struggle with you, and hanging on for the win.

I don't know what your disciplinary options are, so I don't have any great suggestions. I'll just tell you what we do at our school. We use a 3-warning system. First disruption - you're on a 1. Second disruption (which is often, "I didn't even DO anything!") is a 2. Third disruption, out of the room for five minutes. If that sequence happens again, it's the principal's office.

Basically, it's math. The kid disrupted the class 6 times within a 45 minute period, meaning that the class had less than 8 minutes of solid learning time. That kid isn't ready to be there. It has the added benefit of getting other kids to shape up, too, since the instigator has been dealt with.

In general, I never respond when kids try to engage in arguing with me. I become a broken record. Or I just ignore it and go on with the class. Sometimes I'll say something to the rest of the class, like "Johnny is going to take a minute to calm down.. the rest of us are going to get back to the Middle Ages" and I'll happily put any kid on the warning system for encouraging, laughing, or otherwise giving the disruptor any fuel to continue the explosion.


Junior Member

There was a time when I would have felt the same as you. However, I have the original poster's kids in my class this year. It's the first time ever. It is my opinion that ignoring the behavior makes it worse. Guidelines need to be set and followed. You need to win the power struggle not ignore it. Otherwise the student knows they got away with stealing and being disrespectful and it escalates.

To the original poster. I will say it is so scary these days the behavior of the students. They do these things and think it's cute. So do mom and dad. I have one now that is going down that same path. He has absolutely no feelings what so ever. He is a huge bully and nothing changes that. He adamontly lies and even makes himself believe that he didn't do it. Just remember you only have Kiddo X until the end of the year and Kiddo X moves on. It would be an ideal world if we could help every student help themselves but I am learning more and more these days that it isn't possible.


Senior Member
I must not have made my point clear. I am not suggesting that you ignore stealing or lying. I am suggesting that the child is continuing to disrupt the class and wield power over a teacher by continuing to engage in arguing after the original situation has been taken care of. How does it help anyone to go through rounds of "you are being disrespectful" "No I'm not" "yes you are" "it's not fair, I didn't do anything, it's not like I killed anyone" "You WERE doing something, you took her thing" "no I didn't" "yes you did" "OK fine, but who cares, it's not a big deal"... You are not going to convince the child to back down in front of the class and his friends, particularly if thug behavior or standing up to authority is encouraged in that peer culture. Just carry out the consequences for the original behavior and don't get swept up in the junk coming out of the child's mouth.

c green

I should be clearer

I didn't exactly get into this in front of the class, although I'm guilty of that more often than I like (the kids are not good at 'we'll deal later'). The first conversation took place when they were at their desks working, and I kept it quiet. The second one was while kids were doing a project.

I probably shouldn't have tried to reason with him, but...sometimes I get the urge to try to get in there. No use, really.

I have a five-point system my VP put in place.

1. verbal warning
2. warning on board
3. time-out, usually doing lines in a partner teacher's room
4. detention with me
5. referral

In part because the school's discipline system is sort of broken--not enough administrators, and a lot of conflict between administration and staff, and administration and the district--I actually am not finding this to be very helpful, and am considering trashing it, if only I could think of a better one. Referrals aren't consistently followed up on, if a kid skips my detention there's no backup, etc.

I went to a Rick Jones lecture recently, where he showed a model of teaching the kids to make a hand gesture requesting a discussion with the teacher later, if they feel a decision was unfair. I like it, and would like to use it someday, but don't feel it would work well with my present group.

Drama, I like your 2 three-step sequences, because part of the problem I have with mine is that the stakes go up so dramatically--after the kid gets back from time-out, it takes one more step to make it detention. Yours seems sensible, but also provides a little more room for the kid to feel out what's OK behavior. I may try to use that next year if I'm in a good setting for it.

Terry Callow

Secondary Arts Teacher

I think you need to buy a bottle of good chardonay, watch a mindless movie after you have seen your psychiatrist. Sometimes teachers get stuck on the P word--PETTY. If you are spending this kind of increment of energy and obsession on this child ,you have just negated and taken away valualbe time from those students whose futures you don't see as quite as bleak. Teachers must choose their battles too. I know it's a hard concept to grasp but teachers are human too and as all human beings, have choices whether to take incidents and individual behavior personally or just let it go. I certainly hope after all this machionation you hung the rubber band on your mantle as a trophy--because it sounds like that was your most important feat of the day.


Full Member
Hand Gestures

With kids like yours, and some of the third-graders that I have this year, I'd worry about what "hand gestures" they might use to communicate to you !!! :eek: :D


Senior Member
been there- am there

I have a student that is constantly trying to bully me. I try my hardest not to engage him but our school is very lax with consequences outside of what I do in my classroom. This last Thursday he told me he was going to kill me (grade 5 student). My principal at first asked me to think about what I had done to make him so mad. So I explained that it was nothing I had done, that the behaviour is not excusable and something had to be done. He was angry because he was behind in math because he keeps missing school and his friends were ahead of him. He started acting up so I reminded him of the behaviour that he needed to show and that he needed to earn the right to come on our upcoming trip. So I wasted a good chunk of the math class dealing with this kid who shows no remorse and will most likely end up in jail when he is older. It really hit home when I was working with a student later who tries so hard but struggles with some things, but she is shy and quiet and doesn't get the attention from me that she deserves!!! So I decided that it is time to quit wasting my extra energy trying to find a way to help this student and really concentrate on the ones that I know I can make a difference with. Sad but true. Oh the student that threatened me got a 1 day suspension and we are setting up a meeting with mom. Not the first one.