Teachers inundated with behavioral problems in classroom

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

We all will agree without hesitation that teachers have one of the greatest responsibilities imaginable in educating our children. Although they are underpaid, it is a truly rewarding job knowing that you help prepare the minds of the future. During these changing and often tumultuous times we have students unlike those of yesterday. Teachers are expected to be the glue to make everything work in the classroom—often under taxing circumstances, sometimes beyond their control.

Most teachers are dedicated and loyal to their commitment to serve the children that have been entrusted to their care. In most cases you have teachers who have an unswerving desire to do their best in providing the necessary tools to better serve their students. This is not always an easy task when you have so many students with different needs and extenuating circumstances. It is quite evident that one size doesn’t fit all. However, in many cases the teacher is expected to be in a position to combat all obstacles. This can be an unrealistic and overwhelming expectation when the teachers are not afforded the proper support, training, and resources to combat problems. This dilemma is only complicated when you have an administrator who seems to be insensitive or apathetic to your concerns for help, always blaming the teacher for improprieties occurring with students in the classroom.

Teachers are human with feelings like everyone else. How are teachers supposed to teach classes when they are spending a substantial amount of time trying to dissipate or deal with behavioral outbursts occurring in their classrooms? Many teachers profess to feeling like doormats, stepped on and disrespected by students, parents, and administrators alike. They feel they don’t have a support group advocating for them, especially in the way they are treated.

We are quick to state that educating our students is our top priority in education. But if we don’t support teachers as primary moderators along with parents to educate our youth, we are doing the children a grave disservice. Happy and supported teachers are in a better position to serve our children and produce results. That’s not up for debate.

One shouldn’t assume that all principals are the fit for a school or that they have their teachers’ best interests at heart. Often principals whose jobs are on the line are often pressured to improve their schools’ tests scores. Thus, you may have an overbearing insensitive principal with poor people skills who finds it easier to blame their shortcomings on the teachers, citing poor classroom management skills. This may be the case for a few teachers, but most teachers with a multitude of students manifesting behavioral problems don’t want condemnation but help. Passing the blame doesn’t serve anyone. Working together to eliminate the problem should be the priority.

It goes without saying that when you have discipline and structure in a classroom, you have an environment conducive for learning and a winning situation for everyone. But behavioral problems plaguing classrooms seem to be downplayed. Instead emphasis is directed toward teachers who are not adequately preparing or teaching students to fare well on state or national tests. Teachers in many schools can literally be heard begging for real help with behaviorally problematic students—so they can direct more time to students who are eager and anxious to learn.

Behavioral problems occurring in many classes are ongoing and not being dealt with effectively. Attempts to isolate chronic behavioral problem students for a given period of time and return them to the classroom only acts as a bandage, which for the most part doesn’t work. In an effort to pass the blame, the teacher is often the scapegoat. Students, parents and principals often find it easier to blame teachers for behavioral and emotional problems in students. It is no wonder that you have an exodus of teachers retiring early or leaving the teaching profession altogether.

Today, as a teacher, administrators may tell you that physical and verbal abuse may just be part of your job. If you have a problem being disrespected, teaching in their school is not for you. How many jobs do you know where there exists a carte blanche on being treated like crap? However, teachers in many cases are expected to make gold bricks from straw. Unfortunately this is the true picture for so many teachers, especially teachers teaching in urban schools with a disadvantaged population.

Often teachers in some schools with a high population of students from disadvantaged neighborhoods are destined to teach classes containing high numbers of students manifesting behavioral problems impeding education for the rest of the class. Excessive behavioral problems are understandable in schools with populations with a disproportionate number of impoverished, mistreated, angry, and problematic students.

But still you find a multitude of dedicated teachers tirelessly committed to aiding these children in their plight for social and academic excellence. All these teachers are asking for is understanding, empathy, and help in their plight—not blame and condemnation for matters that should best be remedied in the students’ homes.

A collaboration of students, parents, teachers, administration, and community working together as a team to combat chronic occurring student behavioral problems should be a given. School psychologists and counselors should be a priority in schools. How can we want the best for our children and not be empathetic to the psychological abuse occurring with so many of our teachers? Happy successful students are incumbent on having happy, well-supported teachers.

Let’s not spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultant firms to find how we can best improve schools when we can listen to or consult with the teachers who work with the students daily.

If we are not realistically looking at behavioral problems in the classroom as a top priority to remedy, then we are oblivious to the truth. Let’s really help and support so many of our unheard soldiers, the teachers.