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?

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

  1. I used to wonder at my tired physical state on Friday night. After 23 years, currently feeling very under the weather, and these videos, I am reminded that teaching is a very difficult job. No teacher is good at every aspect of the teaching craft. I am quite good at the activities and curriculum, less naturally good at the “client servicing” side of teaching. Still, I have had to improve my people skills. Dealing with people demands actual caring and learned strategies.

    Most of these above teaching outbursts resulted in not being in touch with the reality that kids don’t find the class interesting. So, as has been said, quality teaching produces better student behavior, and not the other way around.

    From the technology side (which is almost unmentioned above) I am surprised more schools haven’t installed multiple cameras in classrooms to monitor student work, time on task, teacher behavior, and other things that can be faked by the once-a-year administrator visit.

    So, without the school/teacher’s video side of the story, we are left with student video that is invariably going to capture moments of rage, and not very often represent moments of rational defusing of problems by teachers with high-level people skills.

  2. I’m sorry, but I can’t even get through some of these videos. I agree with most of the posters here, I’m upset that the reputation of some of these teachers may be tainted because of the disrespect of students. In most of these, there’s obvious provocation going on, the kids know there’s a rolling camera, and they act out to get it on tape.

    What happened to respecting your teachers? Most of these students need some discipline and I don’t blame the teachers from providing that. I didn’t watch all of the videos, but from what I did watch, I didn’t see anything get out of hand.

  3. Teachers cursing at their students? Definitely wrong. Kids behaving this way? Absolutely disgusting. Aside from the last clip where the teacher completely lost it, I felt like smacking each and every student (and no doubt, their equally disrespectful parents).

    The fact is, education has changed drastically in the past few decades. As a teacher, I face these disrespectful kids (and their parents)every day. Kids who don’t want to be there or have not been brought up with a decent set of morals and values come in and make the day a living hell. They bully and mock other students and teachers, they make teaching absolutely impossible.

    The days have become 10% teaching and 90% classroom management. It is easy for an outsider to throw out management alternatives, but the truth is, when a student simply does not care, he or she will not listen to nor respect the administration or their own parents.

    I teach in an affluent neighborhood where many families are intact and do not have financial issues. The problems remain (and are often extended), because any issue at school is always excused by the parent (if they even bother to call back or talk to the teacher). There is no discipline at home, no consequences, and ultimately, no control over their kids. The parents are both working and “spend time” with their kids by leaving them on the computer or video game systems for hours and hours.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love xbox and facebook and reading blogs and so on…but when an 11 year old asks me if I’ve seen the “2 girls, 1 cup” video, I want to scream.

    I am only 26 – I am a young teacher with tons of energy and amazing ideas for fantastic and engaging lessons. I can’t conduct them when one kid is telling me to fuck off everyday and his five followers won’t stop throwing things, making noises, talking incessantly, bullying other students, never completing work, etc… etc…

    We enter a profession of impossibility. It is set up to fail. I work at a board that promotes inclusion (which means every child, regardless of ability, skill level, or behavior) is in the same classroom and NOT ALLOWED TO FAIL. Many people do not know this. If a child is failing, it is our fault as teachers because we didn’t modify the program enough. We are actually not allowed to keep a child back a grade. We have students going into high school who lack the basic literacy and numeracy skills because the system pushes them through for statistical glory. This means children learn very quickly that they school system caters to them and even if they do nothing until the end of the year, no one can touch them.

    And speaking of touching, I just witnessed a dearly loved supply teacher of 25 years get suspended (with a pending lawsuit) for asking a student to “sit down” several hundred times and then gently placing her hand on the kid’s shoulder and again repeating “sit down”. The parents are ensuring this teacher never teaches again and the child got away with fabricating a story of abuse.

    But that’s another issue.

    We are trained to prevent these behaviors from happening instead of reacting to them (as these teachers have) by setting up classrooms a certain way, making the kids part of the rule making process and consequence list. There are tons of strategies that look great in theory but in practice they crumble because kids lack the respect and social skills in the first place.

    Solution? These things need to be taught at home. Way before the child even enters the school system.

    We need to start educating parents about parenthood before throwing out ideas to change the way teachers teach or kids learn. On top of the already packed curriculum, we are expected to parent these children. It is impossible.

    So – should these kids be allowed to record their teachers? Honestly, I wish sometimes that my classroom was full of cameras. Full of parents watching. So they can see the destructive ways of their children and maybe understand that teachers are being pushed so far it is damaging their health. At any given school there are a handful of teachers either on stress leave or teetering on quitting for good.

    The fact that these clips, like many media outlets, are taken out of context and definitely done with the intent to ridicule and push the teacher over the edge, make it unacceptable. Its like continuously poking a stick at a helpless dog through a cage and then getting upset when the dog eventually bites back.

    The best part is, teachers get paid horribly little to endure this kind of punishment and then get brushed off because we get “the summers off”. Without that time off, the mental wards would be filling up quite quickly.

    I understand my post has gone slightly off topic here and there – but this is so much more than just a cell phone issue. It is an epidemic that will quietly keep snowballing. I’m staying in this profession to hopefully make and see a change, and for the handful of students who are there to learn.

  4. Have we lost our minds?

    How can we excuse any of this as activism? Activism is high-minded. It is doing what is right even when others aren’t or even when they don’t recognize what is right. Who is doing right here? The teacher? The students acting out? The students filming it? The students laughing in the background? How can anyone find humor in this?

    If the intent was to bring the misbehavior of teachers to someone’s attention, they should have brought it to those people. This is an attempt to hurt people. I am all for ridding the classroom of teachers who clearly don’t belong there, but this is just an ugly display meant to tear someone down. Is that the message we want our kids to learn? When someone gets in your way, tear them down?

    I am a huge proponent of better teaching leads to better behavior. However, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that this is only the result of poor teaching. These kids are misguided at best. What parent would condone this behavior from their child, even in a scenario where a teacher was out of line. If a teacher hit a kid it might be different, but even then, I would teach my kid to leave the room and get another adult, not to ignite the situation and make it worse.

    Yes, the teacher is the adult and should know better, but let’s not start excusing kids from proper behavior just because the teacher is not in control of their own. No one benefits.

  5. Most kids nowadays are punks. For them, school is a place to hang with friends and sell drugs… not to learn.

  6. Sublime’s post was right on the money and most insightful. All of these clips are taken out of context, but what is clear is that the students have no respect for authority whatsoever. They are behaving in a deplorable manner. Are all the teachers saints in these clips? No. But they are human beings who have to put up with students who, day in and day out, behave in this fashion. Who can blame these teachers for getting angry?

    The students featured in these videos, their parents, and the students who secretly recorded these videos should be ashamed of themselves.

  7. I think Audrey sums it up best:

    “The teacher is afraid of the principal, the principal is afraid of the superintendent, the superintendent is afraid of the Board of Ed, the Board of Ed is afraid of the parents, the parents are afraid of the children, and the children are afraid of nothing.”

    Posted by: audrey | March 06, 2008 at 06:34 PM

    It might just be this simple.

  8. It’s been fascinating to read everyone’s comments. Lots of different perspectives here. Can we glean any learning, though?

    FYI, discussion on this also is occurring at LeaderTalk:


    and Neatorama:


    There are a number of posts linking to this one. Here are two good ones:



  9. Whether these acts of disrespect are recorded on video or not, this is taking place in too many classrooms across the country. Please note that I have not stated who was being disrespectful to whom in these videos. That is for you to decide. I am a little unnerved, however, that some of the people commenting about this so quickly and easily blame “administrators.” The issue here is not legal or illegal videotaping. It is about bad teaching. It is about bored students. It is about disengaged learners. Why is it that this behavior only happens in some classes and not others? I bet that most of these students do not act this way in the classrooms of the teachers who understand the importance of making learning engaging, real, and authentic. The teachers in these videos should be blamed for this. Their behavior sickens me. They are adults who have lost touch and who have forgotten how to relate to children. Yelling and swearing at children is never the answer. Corporal punishment, John? You have got to be kidding. The only administrators who should be blamed are the ones who let these pathetic teachers get tenure in the first place.

  10. I cannot believe the disrespect most of these students displayed towards their teachers. Teachers are not NBA players. They are not POPSTARS. They don’t get paid a hefty sum to sit there and have *children* berate and disrespect them. I honestly don’t know how people are raising their kids these days, but it is obvious that ‘respect’ and ‘values’ are lacking. How can anyone learn in a classroom where the class clown and miss popular want to disrupt the lesson for attention? I am so glad to be out of school. Never again will I lament those summer days I could spend as a student. No thank you, because if I had to contend with peers like that, I would have just dropped out.

  11. Why do the teacher argue with them? It would all stop if the teacher walked out of the classroom and told the student to join them outside, then send them down the hall to the principal. Dont bloody stand there shouting back, that achives nothing.

    And yes, the disrespect amognst the students is sickening.

  12. Clearly there is a lack of respect of both the teachers and students. I dont know how, at that late stage in the game, to gain that mutual respect back. It is the reason for both sending my own children to private school and the reason I choose to teach elementary level students. Without respect and the development of schools as a community of learners, the total breakdown of the institution of education is inevitable. The you tube clips point to an out of control situation that needs addressing in our society at large. It needs the attention of families, student leadership and schools alike. The use of cell phones in class pales to the larger issues at stake here.

  13. I say that we bring back capital punishment. Ooops. Wrong post. But I still remember the bloody painful cracks across my knuckles with a yardstick during grade school. And that was for not writing the date in my notebook. Imagine what would have happened had I caused trouble. Oh wait, I did.

    We’ve cut off teachers’ balls, so to speak, and then the world has thrown ubiquitous cameras, YouTube, and incentive to cause trouble. Doesn’t anyone with any influence have the power to do anything? Maybe we need Curtis Sliwa, or someone like that, policing schools and kicking butt. YOu cause trouble, you get your ass kicked. As soon as you cause trouble, you should lose your rights as a minor.

  14. For the people who say the parents are to blame – a glance into Judith Rich Harris’s “No Two Alike” might be very enlightening. Or maybe not.


  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

  20. 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.


  21. 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.

  22. 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:



  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. 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!

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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…

  30. I wish it was different in the UK

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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:

  34. 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…

  35. 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!

  36. 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?????

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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.

  49. 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.


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