Cell phone cameras in the K-12 classroom: Punishable offenses or student-citizen journalism?

[cross-posted at LeaderTalk]

Take a look at the seven YouTube videos below, all taken by student cell phone cameras in classrooms. Do we want students bringing to public attention these types of classroom incidents? Should students be punished or applauded for filming and posting these?

122 Responses to “Cell phone cameras in the K-12 classroom: Punishable offenses or student-citizen journalism?”

  1. I am a teacher and I think these videos are absurd. Personally, on a day to day basis, I have to deal with students who are out of control. It is tiring. Coming to work each day listening to kids be degrading and interrupting the learning of others can get very frustrating and lead to outburts. However, the outburts seen here are uncalled for and should have been handled differently. Honestly, if I had a class like that, I would have an administrator or their parents in that classroom with me until control was regained.

    Teaching is a hard profession to say the least. Students no longer come to school to learn, but they also come to be social. Schools need to have discipline and teachers that follow through with it. Teachers also need to realize that times are changing – and in order to get the students to learn you have to start entertaining them while teaching. Any free time or down time is just a bad thing and can lead to chaos seen in the videos.

    I am not even 30 years old yet, and I have never been so disheartened by the attitudes of the children today…and there is only one person to blame – and that is the parents. Parents…get control of your kid! My all time favorite question is becoming…”Mr. (_____), why did you give my child a C on their report card?” I always respond, “Sir, I didn’t give them that grade, they earned it.” Come on parents, you know better!

  2. I would support cameras in the classroom. Students should be asked not to use theirs, but this way, no one would be hiding or staging anything.

    These happenings need to be brought to light…both the kids and the teachers should be ashamed. If this is America’s future, I want out.

  3. You know what, those kids deserve to get yelled at. It’s obvious that the teachers receive no respect, that they students are complete troublemakers, and they deserve harsh punishment. I don’t think the phone was used as “journalism”, it was just to record kids being bastards to their teachers as a joke.

  4. Sick of rudeness Reply March 8, 2008 at 12:09 am

    Fortunately most of these kids will end up in jail or dead. If they act like this in a classroom would anyone really want to hire them? The girls will be whores. The boys, pimps and dealers or prison bitches. If these are 10th graders by the time they graduate they’ll be squirting out their own little crack heads or abusing their children or – by the time they’re the teacher’s age, will have a few rooms full of obnoxious teens themselves. If they don’t know respect they won’t be able to pass it along. So – what goes around will come around and they’ll find themselves the target of young punk thugs. The teachers – obviously, have reached the end of their ropes as well. All of them are burned out, frustrated and angry – if not fearful. I would be too. Not – afraid of the kids, but for working for a school system that lets this crap and abuse go on. I’d sue the school if I were a teacher – talk about hostile work environment!

  5. As a teacher I found myself both grimacing and laughing at these videos. Grimacing because it might easily be me up the front at the end of a long hard day. Laughing because ultimately the kids videoing this were just provoking their teachers for a bit of a laugh. I don’t think serious harm was done in any case.

    In a couple of the cases I believed the camera helped temper a teacher’s reaction (and anything that cause us to stop and breathe before we launch into a tirade is a good thing). Surely we can all see that the more a teacher reacted the more the kids prodded. I’ll try and remember that the next time I have a difficult class at the end of a long day. We’re not going to change whether the kids are essentially decent or not, that is ultimately the job of their parents , what we can change is our attitude and approach to things that they do. A lighthearted approach to a couple of the situations in these videos would have completely turned things around.

    With that in mind a light hearted approach to these videos is also called for. Laugh when it’s funny, we can’t take everything to heart.

  6. One of the most thought-provoking posts in a very long time – well worth sharing at staff meetings across the country.

    Aren’t we all so ready to assign blame rather than look for solutions?

    My reaction is here:


    Thanks, Scott, for getting us all thinking – again.


  7. It was painful watching these videos and I feel sorry for everybody involved. I suppose that the video recordings truly bring the problems to light in a horrific way. This bring to mind an expression that we always used with our basketball players – ‘the tape doesn’t lie.’

    Is it possible that something good can come out of these? Maybe one of the teachers decides to take drastic steps to improve his/her teaching practices, or even better yet, makes a career change. Can one or more of the students be mature enough to see the big picture and change their attitude and behavior in the future? Why do I have a hard time imagining the teacher and students reviewing the video and then having a serious discussion on how the classroom situation can improve?

    I’d sure like to hear how the principals at each school handled the incidents. Videos like these and the negative blogger comments sure make me appreciate my work in an international school setting.

  8. As I just said on Doug’s blog, one thing teachers should try to remember is to never, NEVER get in a stand-down with a student in front of the rest of the class. Teachers always, ALWAYS lose…

    Here are a couple of older posts of mine on classroom cameras:



  9. These videos are quite sad. I am 26 and I remember students in high school being so terrible to teachers and other students.

    We had a very short and elderly teacher for French class, we was always trying to make it fun by having us act out skits in French and even bringing in her own crepe iron for a snack day.

    Then, one day two boys got into a fist fight in the class and were throwing desks around. These were high school wrestlers, and she was 4ft 10 and about 95 lbs. What was she to do?

    In addition to this, I was pretty shocked to see that kids have cellphones and i-pods in school. They should be confinscated at the door of the school like weapons are.

  10. teacher’s should have the right to smack the shit out if the kids , there out of control, and if you think driffent you or your kids are one of these ass.

  11. In some of the videos the students should be applauded. They have give us a look in the classrooms when everyone is being themselves.

    Some of the teachers need to be reprimanded/fired and some of the students need to be suspended for disrupting class. You have the video evidence.

  12. There is a quote I use from time to time from Dean Acheson that reads: “We must live in the world as it is.” To blame parents for this behavior, to bemoan the kids today, to cry for a return to the good old days when we could beat children – I find all of those sentiments as alarming as the videos themselves. On the same set of videos is a classroom management training video titled “Maintaining Classroom Discipline.” The date of the video – 1957. The video begins by showing an ineffective teacher and a disruptive classroom. The disrespect shown by the teacher is not of the outrageous variety we sometimes see, but rather fairly typical (and, unfortunately widely accepted) actions from a teacher that create a negative classroom environment. As you view the video, you see all the boys in shirts and ties, the girls dressed very nicely, the desks in rows, etc. Yet, the underlying results are exactly the same as the ones you see in these other examples. Yes, things have changed. Yes, offensive language and student actions appear more outrageous – but, look around! Look at the world these children (and they are children) live in! Never mind the rappers and the athletes – how about looking at some of the CEOs of major corporations? Is their blatant disregard for the law and for others’ well-being any more outrageous? So -this is the world in which we live and our job as educators is very, very challenging. But the logic that we should handle the inappropriate actions of children through inappropriate adult actions is illogical. Getting in a child’s face and screaming at them to ‘show them who is in control’ rarely results in any positive change in behavior. Please let us remember that our job in school is to teach; we must teach students appropriate behavior. We must teach respect – and you do not do that by demanding respect simply because of authority or position. You do that by modeling respectful behavior and by having consequences that allow students to learn. YES – hold students accountable. YES, give them consequences that will allow them to learn. But, let’s do the same for the adults. AND – let’s look at how and what we are teaching and the willingness of teachers to change and try new things. And let us stop wanting for “the good ol’ days” – we tend to forget what was not so good about those days and dismiss the good of today!

  13. Some of these students seem like they’re in the wrong place, don’t they? Kindergarten would be more appropriate.

    I’m glad I live in Norway, where my kids can go to real schools with great teachers.

  14. We mustn’t forget the millions of students who are sitting in these classrooms who want to learn. They are embarrassed by their peers, they are frustrated by having their classes hijacked by disruptive students. They even feel sorry for, or are disgusted with the teachers. We tend to forget them, but they are critical to our future. We are losing them. Apathy, boredom, disillusionment…these are the effects we are seeing in many of our students due to this type of classroom behavior.

    It may be time to change the way we train teachers. It’s time to look for solutions. EMTs, firefighters, SWAT teams, they all have specialized training. Maybe our universities and colleges need to step up. Do any of you remember education classes specializing in classroom management? Role playing, real life teaching situations? Did any of you spend an entire semester being trained in classroom discipline? How to deal with unsupportive parents, even unsupportive administrators?

    Teachers have been aware of this trend for a long time. We talk about it, we shrug, we stress. Good teachers decide they’ve had enough and leave the profession everyday. Such a tragedy. This situation seems to have been an “ugly little secret” only known to educators in the past. However, these videos have certainly changed all that. Now that it’s in the open, it’s time to do something. I hope we’re up to the challenge.

  15. What is going on (or not going on) in schools today that makes students so bored that they look for ways to provoke teachers? Where is the meaning-making that real education is about and that all humans need?

    I understand that in some schools, it’s nearly impossible to engage students in learning. I have worked in schools where most of the students have dealt with more in their young lives than I ever will. Most of these students are so emotionally insecure and immature that their behavior is out of control. However, does that make it best to sit students in rows and talk at them as though they can’t think for themselves?

    These videos are shameful. I’m embarrassed for my fellow teachers shown here and for the students who think these scenes are funny. I was disgusted as I watched these. I agree with a previous post about journalism being “high-minded.” These videos are anything but. But do we expect high-minded behavior when the teachers don’t allow kids to think for themselves? How can we expect respect from students when the teachers clearly can’t handle the kids in their rooms?

    Is parenting a problem? Of course. But there have always been bad parents. Truth is, we’re still educating kids the same way our parents were taught in the 60’s. Kids still are expected to “sit down and shut up.” Where are student voices? If educators don’t allow students to learn to speak for themselves in positive and respectful ways, the’ll never learn to do so. And if teachers don’t teach kids how to talk effectively and constructively, I don’t know where they’ll learn to do so. I remember how irrelevant school seemed for me when I was in high school, and even though I was never disrespectful, I was unengaged. And allow me to add that being unengaged in high school does not suggest that students expect to be entertained. What they do have a right to expect is that teachers want to hear what they have to say. They have a right to expect that their interests and passions find their way into the classroom. They have a right to work with a teacher who cares about them. If these conditions are met, who says that education can’t be entertaining? If all learning were dull, how many of us would continue with higher education?

    Just some things to think about…

  16. I wish it was different in the UK

  17. Response to Natalie:

    You make some profound comments. Are you a public school teacher? I know that where I work kids are not being taught the same way I was taught. There is technology being used, different strategies, groupwork, higher-level thinking, etc…Are you teaching them the same way you were taught? to sit down and shut up?

    You state that teachers need to teach the kids how to talk to communicate. THIS IS WHERE PARENTING COMES IN. Parents need to teach students how to talk to adults to gain their attention and respect. This is the parents job, and when they fail, what you see in the video is the consequence. Plain and simple. Teachers can help refine students communication skills, but why should we teach students the skills? Do the parents even want those skills taught?

    Where can you see high-minded behavior wanting to come through in most of these videos? Now, I am not saying that the teachers in these videos were not totally out of line, but I just feel that your thought adds to the problem that we are facing as educators. Many parents think that teachers will raise their kids and therefore do little for themselves – and your post supports those parents.

    just some more for you to think about…

    PS – I have my students currently sitting in rows. We just moved out of groups – maybe it was that way in one of the videos too???

    Again, I am not supporting the teachers and how they talked to the kids…but please don’t say that above all of the other duties we public educators face that now we should teach students basic skills of how to talk effectively. Let the parents do that! Then let us shape and guide the kids while teaching them the curriculum they need to know.

  18. Maybe the principals of these schools should see these videos. At least then they’d know they have numerous problems. Bad teachers, bad students and too many cell phones in the classroom.

  19. We need to change the way we think about how to use cellphones as personal computers, which they essentially are.

    NYC is currently testing the Million Cell Phone initiative, but the press release doesn’t do it justice. Instead, check out the ad firm that designed this proposal:
    Click on Case Studies
    Then click on Million.

    or go here:

  20. How about taking this one step further? Instead of locking up confiscated cell phones/cameras/iPods, etc… in my drawer, maybe we should be inviting kids to digital story-tell using these devices in our lessons…

  21. You cannot blame the whole scenario on us parents. Whenever I hear someone saying things like, “If ony people would…”, or “If only parents would…” I know that there’s no solution at hand. Human behavior is human behavior, and public school teachers have an obligation to deal with all kids, not just the ones with good parents. Even more, many of the best kids and parents have gone off to private schools. My question is, how are teachers going to work with the parents of the kids in their classrooms to ward off this sort of behavior? I bet a lot of us would be willing to work with you!

  22. Response to Matt:

    And Matt, what if the parents don’t teach the kids the skills? They will come (and should come) to our schools anyway. And then what do we do?????

  23. I just feel a knot in the pit of my stomach after watching only 2 of those videos. I watched all 7, and the teacher in the last one, who starts outright cursing at the kids has no excuse for that. But all of the others pretty much exemplify why I have no desire whatsoever to teach at a publich high school. The 2nd video just makes me sick. It’s bad enough for the girl to be completely disrespectful to the teacher, but all of the hooting and catcalling from the rest of the class is shameful. This is NOT a defense mechanism as someone else said. This is encouraging the disrespect and trying to get the teacher to lose even more control. And there’s one boy in a red hat by the door that truly seems embarrassed by what’s going on, and my guess is he’d actually like to learn something in that class.
    Great post, Scott, but disgusting videos.

  24. I have to agree with Sue. We have to take kids where they are at when they walk in the door. It is because teachers bemoan the poor parenting, the poverty, the ELL factor, and all the other “input” kids bring with them that keeps teachers from seeking interventions that might actually help the students break the cycle. If we accept that some kids don’t want to learn, that they PREFER poverty and pain over an education, then we need to get out of the profession. Our job is to find away to engage them where they ARE, not where we wish they would be. Anything else is giving up.

  25. Some students deliberately do things to irritate teachers just hoping that the teachers will lose control. Being able to tape the teacher only serves as an incentive to do whatever it takes to make the teacher mad.

  26. Hmm, Having taught in the inner city for 4 years now, I encounter the apathetic attitude of parents, students, and the school institution itself. I myself was a 1.9 gpa student in highschool ( I never gave a fuck) but I kept my goddamn mouth shut and didn’t bother others from achieving. If I was told to stop something by one of my teachers, I did it; I wouldn’t have to have 5-7 phone calls home a year with NO result or cooperation from the parents. It’s simple if you don’t want kids, wear a fucking rubber! Otherwise do your job in raising them which means take their ass off the basketball court when they are getting straight F’s in all their classes, show up to conferences, don’t allow your child to eat skittles and chips for breakfast, and understand that buying your kid $200 nikes every other month develops a young child’s mind to become materialistic; especially when they haven’t paid a cent for them. Schools should understand that when you take 30+ at risk children and put them together in one room that the end result will be anarchy and chaos. Lastly, I think that using the word “fuck” and pushing children is wrong; but administrators need to know that teachers need cooperation period. And parents, please understand that when I call you because YOUR child is out of control, it’s not because I have nothing better to do at the end of a stressful day, so why the hell would I make up lies about your child.

    Thanks Jennifer G. for all you’ve done for the great state of Michigan’s educational system

  27. It’s all about leadership.

    I taught public school as a full-time substitute teacher for 10 years and never saw this sort of stuff. Why? Because I always treated students with respect and dignity regardless of how they treated me or others. My students always responded positively to being treated with respect, and I never had any “situations” in class.

    Remember: I was a sub, not a regular teacher. Students love to pick on a sub, but I had no problems. Good leadership skills trump childishness every time.

    Most teachers simply suck at their job. It seems to me that the teachers in those videos fall into that category.

  28. Ya you were a sub in a white middle class school much like I used to be, where kids had decent parenting, and as a SUB you didn’t have to assess nor expect kids to fulfill their potential. As a sub it’s very easy to behold a laxed perspective; much like I did. But divert more responsibility from parents and students. I bet you assume that ADD is also a medical not social disorder as well brother.

    • Nice guess, Sean…but you’re wrong. I didn’t teach in white middle class schools. I taught in low-income rural schools, with a high population of children of either recent immigrants or temporary laborers. Because of the demographic, I taught the same students over and over…it wasn’t a one-and-done situation. I taught kids, then I taught their brothers and sisters, then I was the attendance officer and worked with their parents. This was a small community, and I did this for 10 years. Your assumptions are simply evidence of your bias, and – quite frankly – your stupidity.

  29. This is probably going to sound arrogant, but if you have never taught in a truly difficult school (or done other similarly stressful work) you really can have no idea what kind of pressure those teachers are under.

    Of course no teacher should yell at a child. Of course teachers should always be respectful. However, I defy any normal human being to teach in a school with extraordinarily disrespectful students and not occasionally lose one’s cool.

    As others have said, the daily stress of being yelled at, called names, and enduring all kinds of abuse and disrespect takes a mental and physical toll on a human being.

    If you met me, you would probably think I was a pretty level-headed, patient, and caring person. I cringe to think what I would have looked like on camera during my time teaching in inner-city Chicago. I screamed. I yelled. I shouted. I threw things. (Never at students, thankfully.)

    I loved my students, but their behavior was reprehensible. I knew what I should do to try to help them, but sometimes you can’t take it any more and you yell or scream or say something that you later regret.

    Yes, there are bad teachers, but you cannot judge that from one video, as others have pointed out.

    Finally, teaching in a so-called normal school (where I am now) is NOTHING like teaching in a challenging school. Again, at the risk of being annoying, if you haven’t been in that situation, you have no idea how hard it is.

    I agree that we should educate teachers about better methods, and we should hold them to a higher standard, but when the job is so incredibly difficult, sometimes people are going to make mistakes.

    — Jeff

  30. Oh, better late than never. I don’t think all these videos are the same, I think some could be taken a number of ways. Some of them are obviously awful to me just as they are whatever the context.

    On the issue of taping or not taping. The reality legally where I teach is that students and other can tape you and it can be used against you (based in a Ninth Circuit decision). This is true even though there are laws in the state against surreptitious taping of individual. The courts reason for doing this was that they consider teaching to be a public act, and I think that sums up what I think. You’re always on, even if we sometimes forget to act that way.

  31. I’m a high school teacher; it was painful to watch what happened in the video, I cringed on the inside while it was going on.

    I’ve seen kids with minicams and cellphones out in my classroom, and it worries me. I’m not perfect, I lose my temper at my kids every once it a while (especially around state testing time).

    I have said my kids “Quit acting like an idiot” at a loud volume; I’ve said “Shut up” before, sometimes with a smile as part of an ongoing class joke and gotten a laugh back. I’ve also said “Shut Up” when I have done ever single thing to get a student to stop talking (I don’t talk over them– ever).

    I’ve also had my students for 2 years, and looped up with them. I know what they’re going to say before they’re going to say it. I know what they’re going to do, not do and what their parents are going to say to me by heart.

    So after 2 years of student x doing the same thing again and again despite my protestations and gentle redirections, please pardon me if, as a human being, I lose my temper and yell at that student is something of a harsh tone. I realize that I am a professional and 99.9999% of the time I act as one, but I’m still human, subject to extreme disappointment and, occasionally, anger.

    Now, having said all that, if someone whips out a video camera and records me for the 5 seconds where I am yelling at a kid after 2 years of doing the same thing then I have irrevocably negative “Youtube Fame”.

    Should I be yelling? Probably not.

    Am I doing it to attack the student? No.

    Am I doing it to express my extreme disappointment with what they are doing or fail to do? Yes.

    Has anything else in my bag of tricks worked prior to that? No.

    That’s probably why I’m yelling.

  32. Teachers aren’t the true teachers of youth anymore. Britney Spears & Prez Bush are. The few hours teachers spend with students can’t compete with the bombardment of media kids receive. Teachers are, ultimately, outgunned.

  33. This is what 40+ years of “civil rights” and immigration has done to this country. America is dead, and in its place we have a 3rd world dump going by that name. Obama as president? There you go.

  34. Wow. Shameful, all around.

    I’d just like to point out, however, for those of you blaming the teachers and parents, that these kids are all old enough to manage themselves. Maybe the parents and teachers have some blame for not modeling great behavior, but at some point, we all make a choice about how we conduct ourselves in the world, and the students are of age to make that choice.

    What I think is going to be interesting is what happens when, in a few more years, these kids are out in the world, working for or with some of us. Then we’ll get to see how patient we are with their behavior.

  35. I agree with Matt’s post a few days back.

    Response to Sue King – I think you missed Matt’s point. These videos are a good way of saying to parents out there that something needs to change and maybe if they step up, teachers wouldnt have to be raising their kids and trying to teach them!

    I think the videos show true problems in the education and parenting systems – and many posts out there just assume it is the teachers job to fix them. Teachers are not miracle workers all the time. I am a career switcher and have been teaching for one year. I am shocked at what I see. Sue King, are you a teacher? If so, I would like to see you raise the kids and teach them! There has to be a middle ground somewhere where everyone does their part – and that is what Matt’s post was trying to say.

    If these videos are a growing trend, maybe you could open up a “Raise my Kids” business and save the teachers the hassle of doing that. I know that I want my children’s teacher TEACHING them the content – not raising someone else’s children cause they don’t know how. Get a clue.

  36. I agree with Lindsay and Scarlett. Teachers need to show some respect for their students before they can expect to be listened to and respected. I think these videos are a good thing. It doesn’t matter whether they are filmed with an element of pranking or mischief. They are still fine citizen journalism.

  37. There is a crisis in the classrooms of the US & if it takes the students themselves use their cameraphones as a source of manipulation, I think the that only result is a negative comment on their own wildness and, yes, lack of respect and inability to concentrate. I see educated people here at the head of classrooms at their wits end, losing their patience. The irony is that if the children win at this classroom game, they will lose at the game of modern life in the 21st century – which perhaps demands more order & intelligence that ever. How can one explain that to the mob? Reality only hits them out there in the world – at the job. Maybe we should re-instate more real life vocation experiences in place of sitting in classrooms to show the kids what can be expected of them. Want to be a jerk and scoff school? Then condemn yourself to minimum wage slavery…or perhaps a life of crime? If we spent the resources on schools that we currently do o PRISONS we would be making a good start.

  38. In video number two, I feel this is very clearly a racial thing, as well as a power trip they are trying pull over on this teacher. It’s not her fault, she doesn’t have a chance.

  39. Teachers need the support of administration. Some students are just going to cause as much trouble as they can, seek attention at any cost, and care nothing about anyone else in the class.

    I’m speaking from the standpoint of a parent. My oldest son was in a class in middle school where a group of disruptive students not only tormented the teacher, they also tormented any student that actually wanted tao learn. Administration would not back up the teacher. It was a miserable year for us all.

    Perhaps he should have filmed those other kids tormenting the teacher and the other students.

  40. You can advocate teaching teachers how to deal with this behavior, but it will not work the US.

    I think everyone agrees that both the teachers and the students here are out of line. I cannot imagine swearing at students. Clearly, that is out of line. I do not excuse it, but understand it. They have been pushed to their limit day after day and not paid. However, I teach college and encounter students with these behavioral problems.

    This is really the chicken and the egg question. Are the kids acting this way because of poor teaching or has their conduct dragged the teaching down?

    Many “educator” types on this site advocate training the teachers to deal with this kind of behavior. Do you really want to spend your tax dollars to educate teachers on how to deal with grossly undisciplined kids? Music teachers may not make good policeman or psychologists. Considering that the United States is competing in a world economy and not competing very well, would it not make more sense to train teachers in their fields and and leave discipline to parents and administration where it belongs. Most teachers have no trouble dealing with minor every day discipline problems, but this is pretty major, right?

    Most teachers have into their profession because they love to teach. Most have wanted to make a positive impact on students. Most have had a great teacher and imagined themselves being like that teacher.

    However, most good teachers leave the professions in a few years. They don’t get paid and they don’t get supported. The good ones leave quickly. You can criticize teachers all you want, but it is you children and the nation who loses when the good ones leave. Criticism will not stop that.

    You don’t understand that a chemist or physicist or any teacher thinks his subject is beautiful. He wants to show students how beautiful it is and to share it with them. A music teacher thinks certain music is complex and beautiful and teaches to tell his students about it. However, now you want to train him to deal behavioral problems (real problems like teacher baiting and blatant disrespect). You also do not pay him/her.

    Teachers are not stupid. They know there will be behavioral problems in the classroom. They have been there to see them many times themselves. What they do not anticipate is how unsupportive the administration will be. They, the teachers, will be blamed for the student conduct in these videos no matter how they react.

    On TV the other night, the politician says roughly, ” if there are two classes reading at the 4th grade level and at the end of the year one is reading at the 6th grade level and the other at the 7th grade, the principal should be able to fire one teacher for poor performance.

    According to time magazine a few issues ago, starting teachers in Denmark (I think that was the country) make more than starting doctors. That is pretty extreme. However, if you want these videos to change you will have to pay teachers and support them too.

  41. Doctor T is right. In my high school where I work, these students would have been kicked out of the classroom for insubordination.

  42. I wish I could say that any of this was shocking to me, but unfortunately it is not. I had an incident which occured this year where students in a classroom were behaving very inappropriately and the teacher did nothing to stop it. A student from our video production class was filming it in a high quality digital format. (Atleast we have good equipment, despite our poor judgement)It ended up on YouTube and the teacher, who is going through a very difficult time in his life, was publically ridiculed. Yes it was a lack of classroom supervision, but then we are all human and there is not an individual out there that does not have a day they wish they could do over. It was inappropriate behavior by students, but as always the teacher and I were the ones held responsible for our lack of supervision and our less adequate expectations for students. I convinced the students involved to immediately pull the video from YouTube once it was brought to my attention, yet I was still reprimanded by several board members.
    This is just an example of the larger social-societal issue of holding schools accountable for student behavior. Students are responsible for student behavior and schools should only be judged by their response to such behavior. I did not drop the hammer on these students, but rather elected to use this as a teachable momment for not only those involved but the entire student body and staff. We had a discussion in homeroom on responsible use of technology. Thus the reprimand from the board. In their opinion this was not good enough as only by making an example of these students did they feel it would never happen again. The truth is that we have very little control over what students place on the web. I am comfortable with this as I am a big proponent of the first ammendment. Just because we do not agree with speech does not mean we should have the right to suppress it. Time and time again I am amazed by how we take away a student’s rights instead of teaching them to exercise them responsibly. As adults we limit student access to technology like cell phones and then are amazed when adults don’t shut them off when they attend conferences, plays or concerts. We need to teach students to use technology responsibly if we ever want them to do so as adults. Instead the common trend is to prohibit its use.

  43. I’m a pretty good teacher – I think most kids and parents and administrators I have worked with would agree with that.

    But have I lost patience and shouted at a group of students? Absolutely. 22 years, several VERY rude classes, and extremely inappropriate behavior – it happens. Sometimes, being human, we get pushed to the end of our ropes.

    I’ve worked in environments where I hated coming to work every day. No support from administration, parents, and complete disrespect from kids. It’s grueling, and it grinds you down every single day.

    Kids in other countries, where test scores are much higher than in the US, would NEVEr be allowed to act this way. And teachers would never hit this wall of discouragement and be pushed into losing their tempers.

    For those of you who say teachers should NEVER act this way: I’d ask every American parent to think about whether they’ve ever hit a wall of frustration and shouted at their kids. Now, multiply the number of kids X 30, and imagine the frustration that can build for a teacher.

    Somehow, teachers are expected to be superhuman, to act better than parents, better than businesspeople, when put in situations that would push anyone over the edge.


  44. I’m actually currently in high school and I am doing a debate project on the pros of cell phones in school. Though I believe the opposing side of the argument, I’m shocked at some of the evidence and videos that I am useing as references. I do see the disrespect mentioned in many of these other comments on a daily basis, but here are some videos that may change some people’s minds about the cell phone debate.

  45. I think the videos show just how bad behavior in the classroom has gotten in recent years. Unfortunately, teachers have not been trained to be social workers, psychologist, and police officers. Maybe teacher training programs needt to start training student teachers on how to deal with the immature, spoiled teen of togday. We should also look into have security in all classrooms.

  46. How about changing our concept of classroom? How about working with kids only in group sizes that are manageable and appropriate to the tasks at hand rather than trying to control crowds while reaching only a fifth to a half of the class with the lessons and activities we choose? How about having students who are waiting for their time with the instructor to be engaged in valuable self-directed activities, or supervised recreation, or even just not to be required to be present at all? Where else in life do people stick around until a bell rings rather than until the work is done?

    Some teachers are good at instruction and lousy at discipline. Others are good at discipline and lousy at instruction. Unfortunately, there are even some people who get into teaching or administration because they like being petty tyrants. But our insistence on keeping old forms, and the incredible pressure it puts on the learning process, make school more “dangerously irrelevant” with each passing year.

  47. Ill equipped teachers and kids determined not to learn and play their way through school. Very sad. Those teachers I’d guess don’t have the support they need from principals. All they should have to do is have the student escorted out of the room, off the campus. But it doesn’t matter if things don’t run smoothly, just if they run. But the students come to college ill prepared. They want the same perks as hard working kids…

  48. I honestly think that the world needs unskilled labor too! These people are wasting valuable resources.

    I think prior to entering the 9th grade students should be assessed to determine if they are suitable for further education. If an aptitude test developed by a cross section of educators can not be passed they are dropped from the public education system and the parents pick up the tab at a private institution or they try to enter the work force at a sub minimum wage rate until they are 18.

    Middle schools that have high failure rates should be closed, and teacher certifications revoked.

    Education is a bit too free and easy. The parents don’t loose anything while their kids are keeping that days lessons from being taught.

    Hit the parents in their pockets and their kids will straighten up.

  49. After an incident at school yesterday regarding my 14 year old son having his mobile taken from him and the police called because he inadvertantly filmed a couple of his friends having a fight, playful fight from what I can gather! I am horrified that a school can take a thus far completely decent child, with no record of trouble causing and try to make an example of him in Law….this school as every school has bad apples, both in regard to the teaching staff and their attitude and biases towards certain pupils, who shall we say, come to their attention. It is time to take a stand and I intend to do just that if my son’s school takes any further action against him. He was so upset when he came home, being described by his head teacher as sadistic and perverse in the way he filmed the fight and with these threats of legal action against him. He did not know that he was doing anything unlawfull and when I here from my solicitor to that affect, we still don’t know if there is an actual law or if the school were just scaring him! I have put three sons through school and have found it a very distressing journey, with the regime that some schools adopt of absolute rule. My children are individuals and have been taught to treat people the way they themselves expect to be treated and NOT to put up with anything less! Like teachers screaming in their faces! Like being picked on because of personal dislike! Like having your exams marked down in certain modules to stop a child getting that much sort after A in their school exams (this happened three times in my 16 year olds subjects) strangely enough by teachers he had run in’s with in the past! run in’s that could have resulted in diciplinary proceedings against them, but for the fact that, I, the mother, did not take it further, believing the school had settled the matter! This has happened several times and those same teachers are now persueing my son, who, if I say so myself, as been an excellent student.

    IN TEACHING THERE IS A BALANCE TO BE STRUCK. Teachers will get respect if they treat the students firmly but fairly and with respect. Students will get the best from their teachers if they show respect, which most will with a good teacher. A teacher that stimulates their minds and makes learning easy. We are all lucky to get an education and a teachers job is a difficult one, I do admire many who have taught my boys, it is just those few bullies and some school heads that have to roll to pick out the bad apples and bear great fruit.

    Roberta West
    A determined mother fighting her son’s corner

  50. These kids are absolutely frightening. Respect for elders needs to be taught in the HOME.

Leave a Reply