Teacher Being Too Strict or Taking Action?

Updated on September 10, 2012
B.S. asks from Lansing, MI
39 answers

I apologize it may be long and appreciate if you make it through the whole thing as I'm trying to tell a couple sides to the story.

My daughter started 2nd grade this year. Everything seemed to be going very well and I really got a good feel about her new teacher. However, a parent friend whose daughter is in the same class called me last night asking about a "sort of" incident with the teacher. This is what I was told according to my friend:

Her daughter was afraid to go back to school and wants to switch teachers. Apparently the other day the teacher got upset with another child in the classroom and grabbed his pencil and broke it in front of the whole class. In another incident he took a childs paper and ripped it in half and threw it in the trash. He's also had to move some kids around. The child and other children that this is happening to are children that I have known in the past from last year to misbehave greatly. (Keep in mind I personally never witnessed it but heard from other moms and another dad) Well her daughter is just distraught according to my friend. She doesn't want to go back to school or at least doesn't want this teacher. The daughter also said its because she feels so bad for these other students not because she got in trouble. My friend is upset and even wrote the teacher an email, she is worried about the well being of her child liking school. She feels this teacher is too drastic. She finds breaking a pencil as being over the top. She feels that discipline can be instituted in other ways.

Now, I asked my daughter about the incidents and she explained it as "My teacher does not like when you play with your pencils or talk when he is talking" She did recall the teacher breaking a pencil but almost smiled when she said it. She also on her own will said right after that "She (meaning my daughter) doesn't like having the kids that are bad in her class" She did not seem affected at all! Almost happy that the teacher was taking action on a child acting up. I then asked if she had gotten in trouble at all. (My daughter is a huge rules follower while she isn't perfect I have never had discipline problems in school yet I like to stay on top of her) She then admitted she did get a warning because the whole class was reciting site words together and she was not. He warned her that she needed to recite or I'm guessing whatever discipline he has set in motion would take place. (He moves their cards into some slot) That was that though, and she did as told and did not get in trouble any further. She again, although a little upset that she had to recite the words was not mad at her teacher at all. She has came home from school every day happy.

I know how I feel about this and I'm sure you may have picked up how I feel. I won't share anymore about what I feel as I'm not looking for people to agree with how I feel. But just to gain opinions on how you feel about what this teacher did, my friend feels he "crossed a line" by breaking the pencil and tearing up the paper?

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So What Happened?

He is a male teacher. Highly recommended by other parents of older children at the school. In fact after finding out in the beginning of the year the amount of students that actually requested him really made me feel he must be doing something right. He's been teaching for 20 years so I put him in his 40's.

I did see her daughter go off happily to school today. (For what its worth)

Oh and to be clear: I will not be talking to the teacher or anyone else in the school in regard to this situation because of this as my daughter seems to be fine.

And for the record: My daughter lost a lot of recesses that she complained about last year because of one of these kids.

Very interesting seeing both sides. I will definitely keep an eye/ear on my daughter and see how it goes.

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answers from Atlanta on

I've had teachers tear up papers in front of the class before. It was usually because the child was being extremely disruptive or not following rules etc, and it demonstrated that they just got a 0 on that assignment. I have no problem with that. While I think the pencil breaking was a little extreme - I don't think it was over the top.

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answers from Springfield on

I so admire teachers of kids this age. The patience it must require!!! My gut reaction is that he really does want to work with kids of this age, but maybe he's new and has gotten overwhelmed. For so many, it takes a few years of experience or a really good mentor to really help them respond in the best way.

I think it is way too easy for must of us to say he should have done x or he could have done y. It's one thing to say that when you're not in the middle of the situation, and it's so easy to say that when you have 2 or 3 kids rather than 25!

If this is something that really concerns you, could you approach the principal (and I don't usually suggest beginning there) with - we really like this teacher, we want to see him succeed, we really don't want to "get him in trouble," is there a more seasoned teacher than can mentor him and give him some tips.

I participated in a year long mentoring program for a different occupation. I met once a month with my mentor and just talked about the job - things that were good, things that challenged me, whatever. That was a HUGE help to me. I think it really helped me to looked at some aspects of my job and really grow in my job and as a person.

I hate to see a potentially good teacher not get the mentoring and support that could really make a big difference.

Good luck, whatever you decide!

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answers from Washington DC on

I have had a teacher do this when I was in school. When it was done, breaking the pencil, it was done in a direct but not mean spirited way. He saw the kid playing with the pencil, walked up while still talking/teaching, took the pencil and broke it half. Handed it back to the student. Later there was someone passing notes, he walked up without missing a beat and ripped the letter in half and handed it back.

So I guess for me, it all comes down to how it happened, and what was said around it.

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answers from Dallas on

My take on this is that your daughter's friend is learning how to be a drama queen from her mother. Your friend took one story that her 7-year-old told her and ran with it. She has NO idea what happened in that classroom. She only heard a one-sided story from her 7-year-old, which could be any shade of true, and decided to call you to gossip about it and spread things she didn't even know to be true, and then to send the teacher an email sort of 'scolding' him for something she's not even sure how or why it happened.

Your daughter seemed to have a less dramatic perspective.

I think the only issue is your friend's obvious tendancy to overreact, and the fact that she's passing it on to her daughter.

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answers from St. Louis on

There are two things I see here, one mom with what appears to be an overly sensitive daughter. Breaking a pencil? In what world is that going to hurt someone? Even the paper, was he tearing up a hand out that was never done? Clearly this is too much for her daughter so it may be best for that child to switch.

It doesn't bother your daughter, she appears to be happy someone is dealing with these kids so she can learn. It would seem your daughter will thrive in that environment.

The thing with over the line, these kids apparently don't respect their teachers, it seems like nothing touchy feely has worked in the past. If what the teacher did was soooo over the top, soooo scary, sooo crossing a line, don't you think those little reprobates would be scared straight? They apparently are still pushing the limits so it doesn't seem like any line was crossed.

Your friend's daughter is just overly sensitive.
After reading some answers, my answer comes from looking at two different perspectives. You have one kid who thought it was great someone was trying something new and another that thinks the world is going to end. One child puts emphasis on the pencil and paper, the other remembers the pencil and doesn't even mention the paper. That says to me this wasn't an extreme, yelling, humiliating, trial the one child paints it out to be and that seems to be what everyone is reacting to.

I had papers ripped up as a child, ones I put a mess of effort into, ones torn up for all the world to see, it went on for some time to make me an example for all the world to see. I get that, and I am sure most people here have seen it. Thing is, no one in my class would have seen that as no big deal this apparently some kids do think it was no big deal so perhaps it really was not the same as what we remember as children, ya know?

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answers from Washington DC on

the 'lines' that teachers can cross are becoming more and more unattainable.
caning was allowed (although admittedly rarely used) in my school. while i don't want to return to those days, it seems a little nuts to me that a frustrated teacher can't snap a pencil or tear a piece of paper. children are rarely so fragile that this will scar them psychologically.
and if they are? well, their parents should be working with them on dealing with real life. if there is consistent bad behavior in the classroom that is resulting in learning being affected, the teacher is going to get pissed. there SHOULD be an element of healthy fear involved, and teachers should be allowed to inspire it. if every child in the class is a little leery of invoking the teacher's wrath, maybe she can actually get on with teaching.
sounds like your kid has a great attitude.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I really hate teachers like this in the younger grades. It sets such a bad 'vibe' for the classroom. It affects ALL kids and not just the ones in trouble. That being said I think that kids have different thresholds of tolerance for this kind of teacher. It sounds like your daughter is ok with it and her friend is not. I do not blame her mother for requesting a switch-I probably would too. The constant state of stress that this kind of teacher puts into the classroom is actually very unhealthy. Kids are walking on eggshells all year. If I were you I would monitor my daughter for signs of increased anxiety or anything else that may be out of the ordinary, Remember-children don't always realize something is affecting them. She may 'appear' fine with it but be actually internalizing negative emotions.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Your daughter is coming home from school happy every day. She's not complaining about her teacher, even when SHE was corrected, she accepted it, changed her behavior, and moved on. Honestly, not having been there, I would give the teacher the benefit of the doubt. I wouldn't do anything, and I would not repeat it as gossip.

I disagree with moving kids out of a classroom as a knee-jerk response to story they come home with. What they learn is Mom will come in and "save" them immediately. They aren't learning to actually deal with any problems, just to run from them.

I think your Mom-friend should not have emailed or called you, or contacted the principal, but asked the teacher directly to meet with her and her daughter so they can discuss some strong anxiety she is having to school this year. Mom can coach daughter or help explain her anxiety to the teacher. Geez, it's only the beginning of the year. At least give the teacher a chance to make things better for the sensitive child. It also tells the teacher in a non-accusatory way that maybe his actions startled some of the more sensitive kids. Maybe all it will take for her child to feel better is her teacher acknowledging her feelings and telling her he is sorry that his actions caused her stress. He will probably also explain why he felt the need to come down hard on this misbehavior. Mom and child have the opportunity to better the student-teacher-family relationship, but she's only going to make matters worse by rallying others against him immediately.

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answers from Lexington on

One of my sensitive little girls detested her school due to the misbehavior. But she was scared to start this other school because they were strict and did not tolerate any misbehavior. I told her that SHE was not the one who would have a problem... it is the type of child she doesn't like that would have a problem with the strictness. SHE would be happy to be in the result of that environment. Long story short... She LOVED the school. So so SO loved the school. Loved the clean bathrooms (at her other middle school kids SMOKED in the bathrooms!) Loved that other kids did not steal and bully... she felt SAFE.

You do not know what the child was doing with his pencil that caused the teacher to make an example of his pencil by breaking it. Was the child possibly using it as a weapon by poking someone with that pencil? Was he sticking it up his nose trying to be "funny"? Was he destroying a book or his desk with it? The teacher might have just been making his own "point" - Use your pencil as a weapon. toy, or destructive tool, and the pencil (or whatever other object you are using in such an inappropriate fashion) will be destroyed or otherwise removed. TAKING IT AWAY would be a better option. But must we make such an uproar over every little thing the teacher does? The teacher should be reminded that destruction of the property is just another act of violence and is scary to some children. Taking the object away is more appropriate. That's all. Big deal.

Teachers have so few ways to keep peace in the classroom these days. Parents complain about everything.... and it is all the other children who suffer.... and we wonder why they can't learn much at school... because the teacher spends so much time having no effective means of discipline for the children who love to misbehave... getting some kind of powerful omnipotent feeling out of the teacher's impotence.

Sounds like your own child understands exactly what is really going on. Too bad the other parent can't explain to her own daughter what I explained to mine... just wait. The school (classroom) environment will be better because of this.

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answers from San Francisco on

IMHO, it would depend on the teacher's demeanor when he broke the pencil and tore up the paper. If he did it calmly, then it's fine. IMHO he is just trying to let these kids know right from the start that certain things will not be tolerated.

Now if he was angry and grabbed the pencil and/or paper in an angry manner, then I might agree that he crossed a line and that he may have frightened your friend's daughter.

Given that he is a very sought-after teacher and the fact that your daughter seemed to smile when recounting the event, I'm assuming he was calm when he did this and was just trying to get these kids' attention. The other kids in the class probably appreciated it because they are tired of their day being disrupted by these kids' behavior.

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answers from Portland on

I'm sort of trying to wrap my head around what you've written regarding this teacher. Admittedly, I worked with younger children, however, I do think that breaking pencils and tearing up someone's work... well, if I did this as a reaction to misbehavior (someone tapping a pencil), I would expect my little ones to feel I was emotionally unpredictable, and that really changes our overall relationship with each other for the worse. I don't think this inspires 'minding' as much as it shows that the teacher is a willing to use expressions of force to gain control of the classroom.

What we know about using force to discipline is that, while it often keeps things contained on the surface, the misbehavior usually becomes covert, so that the true problem isn't solved. If I were confronting deliberate misbehavior/disturbance behavior in a classroom, I would follow the discipline protocols which were laid out and Maintain an Authoritative and Adult bearing of manner, not losing my cool and breaking stuff. Instead, a discussion about behavior would be happening with the child and subsequently, with the parent. Teaching respect via fear was probably necessary in the Old West, when teachers had to travel to rough areas for teaching jobs, but we're a bit past that, right? I think the onus is on the adults to teach respect both by modeling respectful behavior and out of simple fairness, whenever possible.

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answers from Washington DC on

I would not be okay with the behavior of the teacher and would be taking action up the chain. I'm sorry, but there is no need for that kind of behavior from an adult ever. Really? He broke a pencil and ripped up a paper? These kids are 6 and 7. He needs to get a grip.

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answers from Seattle on

My 5th grade teacher almost ruined school for me.

Admittedly, I am annoying. I'm ADHD. That said, she:

- Broke my pencils
- Tore up my work
- Kicked my chair out from under me (tipping back)
- Got the entire class to laugh at me
- Got the entire class to tell me why they didn't like me (those who refused also got on her short list)
- Would slam her hand down on my desk
- Sent me to the principal's office every single day
- Refused to let me go to the bathroom
- Told me she felt sorry for my parents for having me
- Told me my parents hated me
- Told me the only reason I was in the school play was because they wanted my mum to do costumes, otherwise I'd never have made it
- Confiscated my lunches
- Kept me inside at recess writing lines
- Gave me straight F's (unless I traded homework with a friend, then I got A's again under THEIR name)
- Pinched me
- Snarled at me
- Glared at me
- Put a picture of my face on her paddle
- etc.

I went from straight A's, to quitting. Starting that year, until I graduated from highschool, I only did what I wanted to do.

My last year in highschool, the AP teachers found out I'd been tutoring their students for 3 years, and yanked me into the AP program... and if they hadn't, I don't know where I'd be today.

I had one BAD year, and 1 GREAT year... 6 years later. It was too late. My GPA was ridiculous.

I'm a 4.0 student in college.

So when I hear of a teacher ripping up work and breaking pencils, and the other students cheering that along?

I'm transported right back to 5th grade. With adult eyes, seeing Teacher Sponsored/Incited bullying.

Don't know if that's what is going on, but that's what it feels like.

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answers from Dallas on

I teach a lot of 1- 3 grades and while I completely understand the teacher HAS to gain control early on or the little bad children will ruin the classroom for everyone.

That said, I would never attempt to gain control by using fear. That's just not how I work.

It sounds like your daughter is just fine if she is coming home happy. I would only be concerned if your daughter showed any anxiety, etc. Your daughter and probably most of the children just blew this off and didn't think much about it.

My guess is that the other mom decided she does not like this teacher, maybe even before the incident, and her daughter can easily pick up on that and react in a way that plays to mom. Now mom is spreading gossip to others at the school and creating drama.

Oh I hate it when adult women act like children.

She did not see what happened first hand, she is getting her daughter's side of the story which could very well be exaggerated because daughter knows mom does not care for the teacher.

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answers from Phoenix on

He's "old school". He doesn't put up with b.s. If more teachers & parents were like this, kids wouldn't be so out of control nowadays.

Sounds like your "friend" has already colored her DD's feelings on the teacher and they both have their minds made up.

Sounds like you don't think it's a big deal & your DD seems to be fine with his form of discipline.

I am just really sick of parents not backing teachers up & not owning up to the fact THEY and their kids are the problem, not the teacher who uses more aggressive forms of discipline. "Using your words" and timeouts don't always work. The bad kids ALWAYS get more time & attention than everyone else, and this more strict, quick discipline eliminates wasted energy & wasted valuable time that could be caught teaching instead of doing the parent's job of raising kid for them.

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answers from Dover on

I think it comes down to the difference between administering discipline and exacting revenge. Discipline doesn't come from frustration or indignance toward the rule breaker. It comes from the desire to teach a child that for every action there is a consequence, either good or bad. The desire is to teach them the art of self control and this can't happen if a teacher exercises such great control on the classroom that a child responds out of fear instead of common sense.

I think tearing up or destroying someone's property sounds like an act of revenge or evening a score rather than a desire to teach a child to make good choices. What happens when the little boy runs out of pencils? What's the next step? Rather than break it, couldn't the same goal have been met by taking the pencil away and when the time came to use it asking the little boy, "If you lose your pencil for playing with it, how are you going to do your work? Will you have to take it home to complete it?" Then after a chat about consequences, giving him his pencil back along with a chance to make the right choice. THAT's teaching. Breaking a pencil teaches a child to fear the teacher's aggressive response to behavior and/or that it's acceptable to destroy property when angry. I think there were better, more effective ways to stop the behavior.

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answers from Columbus on

My son's kindergarten teacher was like this -- he seemed so funny and sweet with the kids, so I requested him and got him. But when I volunteered in his room, I saw him yell, berate, and even rip up a child's valentine because the recipient was ungrateful. He wrote on a child's backpack because the child had written on one of the class books. He had tantrums regularly. My son was never the target, so he never seemed bothered by it. It was only after I started retelling what I saw in front of him to other parents that he started picking up that it was wrong behavior. I never took action about it, because I didn't want him to have a hard time while he was in there. I don't know if I did the right thing -- the teacher's behavior was wrong. What's worse, I only requested him because the teacher my daughter had had was not rehired in large part because this teacher had blocked her rehire. My daughter's teacher was perhaps the best teacher we have ever had at that school, and this teacher didn't like her because she didn't want to do the boring rote material the kindergarten teacher kept handing to her -- she was an older, more experienced teacher and refused to do crappy teaching, and so she wasn't a "team player."

I regret not speaking up -- yes, the teacher was "taking action" and trying to instill better behavior in the children, but he was doing it through fear and intimidation. I always wonder why he continues to teach kindergarten, as he has very little patience for mistakes and poor choices, the cornerstone of being 5. And goodness knows, I can barely stand the choices my two children make without losing my cool some days, but I know enough not to treat other peoples' children poorly and I didn't choose early childhood education as my career.

ETA: can you volunteer or drop in on the classroom? It may be very enlightening.

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answers from Washington DC on

Please do "keep an eye/ear" on your child. This teacher, despite supposed good reports about him from others, sounds like a poor fit for teaching children this age.

I agree with those smart moms who posted that his behavior is just as childish as the behavior he's supposedly trying to stop among the kids. Disclipline teaches a child a better way to behave but punishment simply exacts revenge. How does it teach a child anything to destroy property? What does that model for kids? I guarantee some kids are now in fear of this teacher; do you think that's a good basis for a teacher-student relationship? And other students think he's cool because he's so tough and broke someone else's pencil. Again, not a good basis for a kid thinking a teacher is cool or admirable.

I would not move my child but I would do as much volunteering both in the class and generally around school as you can. This gives you a good perspective on both this teacher and how he is perceived by other teachers and parents. Keep your ear to the ground and most important of all keep communication wide open on a daily basis with your child. She is saying right now it's fine with her, and she doesn't like having naughty kids in her classroom and losing recess because of them, etc. But over time, if this teacher persists in these behaviors, your child may be cowed by him. That's no way to spend a school year. If she becomes afraid of him, or if she becomes the target of similar actions, or if you feel she is not being assertive in class because she's afraid of standing out and attracting his attention, even for positive reasons -- you need to talk first to him and then to the principal if needed.

Teachers who make their reputations on being tough can be great but not when they include this kind of physical outburst, however controlled it seems. I am not surprised that some parents just adore him and requested him for their kids -- there are parents who want very tough teachers. But my kid would never thrive in that classroom.

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answers from Tucson on

I'm sorry but people are way too sensitive these days. It's not like he was beating them.

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answers from Boston on

I think more investigation is warranted, and you should take up your concerns with the principal. Try not to start a lot of talk among other parents - I know it's natural, but that sort of thing just builds up and makes a situation even worse. Switching a child out of a classroom doesn't really help - it teaches the child to run away from a situation and it's based entirely on a parent's interpretation of a child's report. However, informing the principal and asking that some observation be done is perfectly reasonable, even from the standpoint that a situation is brewing in the community and the gossip needs to be nipped in the bud with assurances that things are being investigated.

I think teachers often do not have appropriate classroom management skills for the age group they are teaching, but parents need to realize that we have more and more kids with "issues" mainstreamed into classes. While I don't disagree with this, it's important for parents to realize the challenges that exist. A friend of mine is an experienced kindergarten teacher (my son had her years ago, before we were friends). Now she has 23 kids in a class, 6 of whom have life-threatening allergies, 1 who has bipolar disorder, 1 with ulcerative colitis, numerous kids with ADD/ADHD, and quite a few who are defiant and oppositional. I cannot imagine her, or any of the other teachers I worked with when I was teaching a few years ago, breaking pencils and ripping up papers. Taking them away if a kid is being inappropriate, yes. Destroying them? NO! Totally gives the wrong message. Encouragement would be a better strategy for this teacher (such as getting your daughter to participate) but I think some work definitely needs to be done to either get this teacher the necessary skills or to find out what's really going on and put these rumors to rest.

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answers from Detroit on

back when we were in school.. teachers had paddles..taht they used on misbehaving children when needed.

I dont think breaking a pencil is terrible.. or ripping a paper.

There are probably better ways to teach kids.. but if he is trying to set up the class that he is the teacher and he is tough.. he just migh have to do some things like that... especially if he got a bunch of kids known to be problems..

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answers from Chicago on

I think your child's teacher is modeling the same childish behavior that he is disciplining the kids for.

I get that it is difficult to have badly behaved kids in the class. One bad kid can ruin the entire school year for the teacher and other students. Your child's teacher must be overwhelmed with having several misbehaving students in his class. I can definitely sympathize with him on that one. But I think his behavior is still inappropriate.

My daughter is very sensitive and would probably react the way your friend's daughter has. I think having her daughter moved into another class makes sense. It's not like your friend is trying to get the teacher fired. (Or is she? I don't think what he did is THAT bad.)

I think it is good to teach our children that sometimes we don't get the teacher that we want, and that strict discipline can be good sometimes. But 2nd grade seems a little bit young for that.

When I was in 5th grade, my teacher was an ex-military man who gave each student a number (instead of a name) and conducted weekly inspections of our desks, equipment, and notebook. He ruled his class with an iron fist, and no one got away with bad behavior. Most kids were afraid to get him as their teacher. I have to say that I LOVED his class. I learned how to be organized and efficient in his class, and having a clean, quiet, and orderly environment made it easier to learn. Some students thrive in this kind of class, and I was one of them. If your daughter likes this teacher and is doing well in class, I would keep my mouth shut about this teacher and let your friend deal with her issues by herself.

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answers from Boca Raton on

His frustrations are not being handled correctly. I would talk to the principal. He is teaching them that breaking things even though it may be only a pencil is the way to deal with your frustrations/anger. It is not. What is next breaking a chair?

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answers from Boise on

It's not okay, we work hard at teaching our children not to break things, to show compassion, to be good little people and here is this teacher doing the exact opposite.

A few of my older kids had a very strict, elementary teacher. Kids were afraid to be in her class, but she was a well loved teacher by the time summer came along. Yes, she was strict. Follow the rules and there was no issue.

However, she never belittled or embarrassed a child. That's what this teacher is doing. I can't think of anytime were that is okay.

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answers from Houston on

Well if I were you I wouldn't worry about it because your child seems happy. I would not complain because you are hearing it from a mom who is hearing about it from her kid. Your friend should have spoken to the teacher about her concerns not gossiped. I really feel sorry for teachers now a days because they are expected to control a ton of kids without hurting(feelings) or upsetting anyone and teach them while parents complain about everything anyway. Is it possible this teacher s/he is just mean? Sure. Is it also possible that kid was hitting or poking someone with his pencil? Could he have written something inappropriate? As a parent of a rule follower, I know it is incredibly fustrating for my child when he sees his peers misbehaving constantly or worst being mean while the teachers back is turned. I expect my kid to bring home good behavior charts home everyday so my perspective on this would be like "good maybe they'll be a little more respectful now" you know?

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answers from San Francisco on

So many people giving you opinions all based on nothing more than what a child came home and told her mom, and then another child's version of it. Wow.
Since you don't ACTUALLY know what happened how can you feel one way or another?
I have had friends complain about certain teachers for being too rough, strict or mean but my kids weren't the super sensitive type (neither am I) so it was never a problem for us. If your daughter is happy then that's all you should be concerned about. What happens between other parents/students and teachers isn't really your business and shouldn't be the subject of this kind of CHILD DRIVEN gossip.

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answers from Houston on

I hate it when a child runs home and complains to mom and dad about something that was done to some OTHER child. Your (that) child is being a busybody in training.

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answers from Houston on

My answer may be all over the place, sorry. You refer to the teacher as a HE and a SHE in the same post, not sure if that matters.
Breaking the pencil does not set a good example, however 2nd graders probably thought it was funny, I'm guessing. I don't think 2nd graders would view the pencil thing as an act of anger unless angry words were used in conjunction with it.
Some people thrive on drama, maybe that's the other moms game. IDK. If your daughter is happy and comfortable, that is all that would matter to me.
Sorry not much help, just my thoughts.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I would worry about this only if and when my child is involved.
Your friend is right to express HER concerns to the teacher.

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answers from Jacksonville on

That he broke the pencil and ripped the paper bothers me. Doesn't really matter why. I guess I feel like your friend, it does cross a line. It is destruction of property and sets a very negative tone.

A more appropriate response would have been to TAKE the pencil/paper. I abhor the idea of ripping up a student's paper (no matter what it is) as that sends a very clear signal that whatever it is that interests the child or whatever effort the child made is of NO VALUE WHATSOEVER. If it was inappropriate scribbling or name calling or pictures, then take it and give it to the child's parent, or put it in the student's file, or keep until after class and THEN toss it, or whatever. Particularly, if there was any effort at all to do actual 'work'.
Of course, I may be hyper sensitive to this, as my son, when he messed up writing things (in early elementary especially) would erase holes in his paper, and get so angry with himself that he would destroy his own work. I could visibly see how he felt about himself in those moments, and I would imagine that the act of destroying someone else's "work" would INTEND to impart a similar feeling. Not what a teacher should be doing at all!

At any rate, I find them inappropriate responses. That said, MamaR made a good point about not knowing what these children's parents might have discussed with the teacher in private. I doubt that BOTH kids have a private discipline routine going on (seems a bit against the odds), but it is very true that for the kids who DO follow the rules, it is very upsetting to see kids get away with misbehavior over and over again. I was one of those kids, and so is my daughter. And when I say following the rules, I don't just mean "not getting in trouble", I mean "a rules follower"-- justice is extremely important and it is very distracting to see people get away with breaking the rules-- not all kids are like this.

I am not sure that I would say anything to the teacher or the administration, since my child was not affected by it. But if I were your friend, and my child WAS upset by it, I would definitely speak with the teacher/administration about it. It may be that her child would do better with a different teacher. Yours obviously seems fine.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I would not be pleased to have my son in this class. It sounds like the teacher teaches by intimidation and embarrassing children. If my son does not want to recite words with his class and is not disruptive, I do not want him threatened. Having an adult loom over a 7 year old, grab something and break it is threatening and inappropriate. Maybe your daughter is just happy the teacher hasn't singled her out yet. Doesn't make it ok.

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answers from New York on

It does seem a bit over the top for 2nd graders but given he's so highly recommended and your child is happy, figure you don't know the entire story and don't worry unless more things start to happen.

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answers from Hartford on

I wouldn't allow what the other mother has said color your view of this teacher. You could very well be getting a very distorted version of the story from an upset child and now an even more upset mother whose precious widdle angel had a teacher dare discipline him/her.

What matters is that your daughter is happy in the class and appears to really like this teacher. Ask your daughter daily how her day is, see how she responds, and keep open dialogue. Start an open dialogue with the teacher too. Most teachers are grateful for parents to be involved... and statistically, parents that are involved with their children's homework and interested in their children's day and are in contact with their teachers at least once a week will not have problem children or teachers.

I have excellent communication and relationships with my childrens' teachers and touch base with them frequently. For my middle daughter, we e-mail once or twice a day back and forth starting the instant my daughter gets on the bus. With my eldest daughter once or twice a week with each of her teachers, it's how we got her grades out of the toilet mid-year and finally figured out her ADHD diagnosis and had her evaluated... getting her back on the honors list and reducing her stress loads at the same time. I did this all through elementary for her too... especially when she had a teacher I wasn't crazy about two or three years in a row.

Anyway. I think it's fantastic that so many students love him and request him, even knowing he's a strict teacher. It says something about children craving guidelines and structure and how healthy it is, how safe it makes the children feel... and how it leaves room for them to enjoy learning.

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answers from Washington DC on

I think that's a horrible way to behave to a child, especially when they aren't her kids. No adult will get physical with my kid! When I was little, I had teachers yell (scream) and throw erasers. I don't remember being genuinely afraid of them, but I disliked them and I WAS intimidated. I would be throwing a fit if ny kids were threaded that way. We started our kids in a Montessori environment. It's all about "grace and courtesy"and mutualize spect. What a horrible role model this teacher is. Ugh, I'm getting more angry on your behalf as I write this! How long before the kids in that class come home and start breaking their siblings' toys in frustration?? And I also believe kids only tell you half of what goes on in the classroom.

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answers from Detroit on

It sounds like the teacher is attempting to discipline---which is good---but falling short. He does appear a bit on the 'gone too far' spectrum. This is second grade. It seems a bit too harsh.

This might be a case where surveillance cameras could/should be implemented w/out the teacher's knowledge. Like some parents do when their babysitters are in question.

Seeing something unrehearsed would be more accurate and telling. I'm not sure however if it would be considered illegal or unethical. And who foots the bill for the equipment, right?

It's fine to break up the kids and move them around. No issue there. But depending on what was going on with the paper...that doesn't seem necessary. Breaking the pencil doesn't either because kids at that age tend to fidget.

Your friend might be over reacting. If it puts her and her daughter's mind at rest to put the daughter in another class, then she should do it. Remember that anything you would potentially report would be hearsay, repeating what your friend told you. Only your own daughter's opinion would be acceptable.

Is this the only parent that's upset? I would hate to see one teacher victimized because of one parent. If the allegations or concerns are unfounded. Second graders don't always get the story right and kids can be over sensitive too.

To the parent who relives an unholy fifth grade teacher, I had a royal piece of work for fifth grade too. Not on me specifically, although I did experience her wrath once. To this day I would spit in her direction if I saw her. Just a mean, vicious piece of work.



answers from Washington DC on

Moving kids is fine, and I would probably take the pencils and paper away. I do think it's a little much to break it up in front of the class. I don't know if I'd make a fuss. Obviously your friend's daughter was upset by this. If my daughter was truly upset, I'd probably talk to the teacher to get his/her side of the story and explain to the teacher why my kid is upset. Not blame the teacher, as I don't think it's a huge deal, but let the teacher know how their actions affect everyone not just the "bad" kids. It does remind me though in first grade if we acted up we had to smell the teacher's shoe and in second grade the teacher was always breaking rulers on kid's desks. Funny thing is looking back, I don't remember being scared, but I wasn't the one getting in trouble.



answers from Washington DC on

While I understand the plight our teachers face daily with disruptive children, I find his method of discipline counterproductive. Exactly what is he modeling for those children? If someone isn't following your rules you have the right to snatch their personal property from them and then destroy said property! If you are frustrated you are allowed to destroy property! If you ask me that's just a grown up temper tantrum not discipline.

If a child is continually tapping their pencil disrupting the class then by all means have the child hand over the pencil. The child looses the privilege of having a pencil to complete his/her work during the given time frame. The child must then use his/her own recess time to complete the work that he/she could have completed during class had they followed the rules. The teacher should also send a note home to the parents. Or the classwork is sent home with a note from the teacher explaining to the parents the ongoing pencil tapping issue. The child is to complete the classwork in addition to his/her homework. Now you've effectively informed the parents of the issue and THEY can now get involved by reiterating proper choices and outcomes to their child. I'm pretty sure if I had to miss recess or after school playtime to complete my classwork, I'd learn pretty quick not to tap my pencil.

Honestly, at this young age I can not come up with an acceptable reason to rip up the child's paper and throw it in the trash. You don't give a reason for why the teacher was upset and did this but again, nothing would be acceptable to me. It would be different if this were kids passing notes but you said it was their paper implying school work. What do you think the children learned from that? Most likely that their teacher does not value their work so why should they.

Children need to be taught that actions have consequences and they must live with those consequences. Give a kid a consequence he/she can feel and you'll make an impression. Kid's will remember the feeling of not getting to go to recess to play with friends. Or loosing an after school activity because they have to do the class work they didn't complete in school because they weren't following the rules.

Realistically how are the children suppose to "feel" a broken pencil or torn up paper? No big deal, they'll get another pencil and a new classwork assignment tomorrow. This method is not teaching these children anything other than their teacher does not know how to handle anger or frustration. He may be a wonderful teacher in all other areas but he really needs guidance in this one.

Peace and Blessings,
T. B.



answers from Tulsa on

My daughter never gets into trouble in school.
She had a harsh male teacher who did this sort of thing and more.
Because she was not being talked to directly, I thought it would be fine.
She became so anxious we pulled her after week three. She felt horrible for her classmates, even the bad and mean ones.

If YOUR child is affected, step in. If she is happy, let it alone. Your child is your job.



answers from Boston on

That teacher sounds mean and intimidating and that he should perhaps be teaching older children. That kind of behavior is too much for 2nd grade.

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