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

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[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 comments on this post.
  1. Barry:

    I think the cell phone and its capablilities, from SMS to cameras to video to contact have great potential as an educational tool.

    As far as if these students should be applauded or punished, I believe it all depends on their intent. Depending on intent, the cell phone is a tool or a toy.

    Much like the much sensationalized “Penny Protest” in a Readington, NJ middle school (http://wcbstv.com/watercooler/pennies.readington.township.2.666113.html)
    if the intent is serious journalism/activism where their goal is to bring the incident to light in order to cause a positive change in the institution and/or the world, I am all for it. The cell phone camera becomes a tool for change. (Change implies that the students will engage in follow up besides a post to, say YouTube. Maybe they will requets a meeting with administration or the Board of Education or write a letter enumerating their concerns.

    If the only purpose is a prank or to poke fun or to bring ridicule, then I say that they are acting like children and as such, toys shouldn’t be in the classroom.

    From these videos, it is difficult to know intent.

  2. Sarah Hurst:

    Are we supposed to be disappointed in the teachers or the students in these videos? Frankly, I am shocked by the disrespect being shown toward the teachers. I only managed to get through the first three, but I never saw the teachers acting in a way that makes me think they should be punished or reprimanded in any way.

    It seems as if the students recording these incidents were doing it as a way of calling out their teachers, but what they’ve really done is showcase their astounding lack of respect, intelligence and common decency.

    I’m not sure what the fix is for this situation other than to start teaching kids respect earlier. By the time they get to junior high and especially high school, it’s a much harder lesson to learn.

  3. JohnO:

    I’m amazed at two things: (1) that kids think because they did what they were supposed to do, their work, they are justified in doing what they’re not supposed to do, and (2) that they must be entertained or they’ll get bored.

    I’m only 24, so I’m not that far out of the gate, but that stuff is ridiculous.

  4. BeResponsible:

    It all comes down to the parents. They are at fault. This is the #1 problem in our educational system, especially in the inner city schools. A private school would not tolerate this behavior.

    Many of the kids involved in these videos are punks who do not want to learn. They have zero respect for the teacher, and are just looking to avoid a traditional classroom session. They would rather waste everyone’s time than hear a lecture on the subject.

    We are too easy on children in our schools. If they don’t want to be in a regular class and learn, put them in a remedial class with a drill instructor as the teacher. The kids can self-study from their textbooks and take the tests without the advantages of good teaching.

    And teachers, get the parents on the phone!

  5. Shane:

    This is disgusting. It makes me want to quit my job and become a teacher just to beat these kids asses.

  6. Dean Shareski:

    One more reason why teaching is both powerfully exciting today and extremely challenging.

    Many would see this and tend to focus on what rules and restrictions need to be put in place in order to control students. Like it or not, privacy is dead.

    Do our best teachers have this problem? I doubt it. So let’s work on developing great teachers and learning environments instead of band aid solutions that involve avoiding litigation and public embarrassment. Will students still act up and egg teachers on to go into rants? Certainly, but they’d be minimal with great teachers and great teachers would be less prone to react as some of these have done.

  7. Ryan Coleman:

    I think there’s three things to blame here:

    1. The Parents. I wouldn’t in a million years ever have considered speaking to a teacher that way regardless of how big an idiot I may have thought they were at the time.

    2. The Teachers/Education System. Personally I don’t think our schools are moving fast enough to keep up with the times. Schools still teach in a very old fashioned way. While not liking what is being taught is no excuse for disrespect I think schools have a major issue when it comes to engagement.

    The biggest shift I think schools have missed is that they need to be less about what students are learning and more teaching them the hows of learning. Schools have become purely about cramming “knowledge” into student’s head but we now live in an era where access to information is almost entirely ubiquitous. Schools should instead be teaching students how to effectively source and digest information, critical thinking and life skills (bring back shop, home ec., and add things like handling money!)

    3. Discipline. Note too that in most of these videos the teachers all look to be at least 50+. They likely started teaching in an era when there was still an element of discipline in schools (and heck, society). Schools today have been rendered toothless for anything short of expulsion. There’s no consequence to any of the behaviour exhibited here and the teachers are clearly not equipped to deal with disrespectful students.

    Train teachers how to deal with problem students & give the administration their teeth back.

    Just my 2 cents…

  8. Erik:

    This really makes me sad. Not the fact that kids are recording the video during class, but the behavior. Kids are always going to find a way to cheat or break the rules. Their behavior; however, is worse than I image. These teachers appear to have been pushed to their wits end many times and have no patience left.

    Sure, it is easy to say that I would not act in that way or I have been trained differently to adapt to those type of situations. Here is the real question:

    How many teachers can last in these type of situations without help from administration or parents…??? Teachers are not servants of students or the community. Parents and students are not “clients.” This is not a $$$$ business, we teaching people to learn. Teachers are teammates with administrators, parents, and students. Clearly, something in the system is broken.

    So who can fix this? Maybe this is the dirty laundry that is swept away that the public doesn’t want to see….

  9. sandy:

    And that is why I send my kids to private school.

  10. Michael Cayley:

    May be this helps explain why a sample of enthusiastic, entertaining teaching is one of the 200 top viewed videos of all time with over 6 million views?


  11. Timothy Andrew:

    Good-natured fun in the classroom, yes. This, this is more like hate!

  12. Ryan Coleman:

    “And that is why I send my kids to private school.”

    Actually, judging by the uniform on the kid in the last video that might just be a private school…

  13. JM:

    I am shocked at the disrespect from these kids. Obviously the teachers aren’t getting any support from the administration or parents of the kids. What do you do with crappy kids like this?

    The teachers seemed to have been pushed to their breaking point.

  14. Scott McLeod:

    I agree that the behavior of the students is quite dismaying. But I also think it’s interesting that few of the comments so far have focused on the teachers. I’ll always remember my supervising principal for my administrative internship saying (as we dealt with yet another student disciplinary incident sent to us by teachers), “Scott, classroom management stems from good instruction.” There’s a strong element of truth in that, no? If so, then where’s the teachers’ responsibility in these videos?

  15. Scarlett:

    I am filled with tears of joy.

    Thank God technology has gone far enough to allow for students to hold teachers accountable, if only by youtube.

    Keep in mind students can’t choose teachers – unfortunately. They are stuck with them.

    I grew up going to many different schools and found at each school I had teachers who exhibited this kind of behavior – regularly. When students reported this behavior to the office (principle etc) they had always dismissed it.

    Well the times are a changing :-)

  16. Lindsay:

    As a very passionate, successful, and yes, burned-out teacher, I am shocked and saddened by these comments.

    Why should a student respect a teacher who swears at them, belittles them, and disrespects them? Do any of you have any respect for people who treat you that way?

    Why do we so readily accept (no, demand!) abusive, controlling relationships in classrooms, when we clearly recognize their harmfulness in any other part of our lives?

    These kids are acting disrespectfully, there is no question about that. But if the teachers are, as well, then who’s actually to blame?

    I say good on these kids for raising the level of debate and awareness, no matter what their intentions.

  17. Taylor:

    Thank you, Scarlett and Dean. I was going out of my mind reading all these comments about how wrong the students are.

    I assure you, these problems happen in these classrooms every day. This is a competency issue on several levels:

    1. not only is cussing out students and belittling them morally wrong and emotionally destructive, it is INEFFECTIVE as a means of classroom management, as these videos clearly demonstrate. People do not cooperate with those they don’t trust. Period. Nobody does. The jeering and booing and disrespect is a defense mechanism against a system that doesn’t listen to students, teachers who clearly need to get out of the profession before they do any more damage, and (I’m guessing) lack of success at learning.

    2. if these teachers had these students engaged in learning, the problems in these classrooms would improve tremendously.

    3. there are simple, intuitive guidelines that they’re simply not following (with one exception). They should not be arguing with students in front of the class. They should not be cussing, shoving, or even yelling. People who try as hard as these teachers are trying to FORCEFULLY control others do so because they have no control over themselves, as these videos demonstrate.

    4. Students are following the lead the teachers have set for the room.

  18. Dana Huff:

    The behavior on the part of the students is shocking. However, each of these short videos is only a few moments. What happened to precipitate the events? What about the fact that “teacher baiting” for the express purpose of posting videos on YouTube is becoming a real problem? In some cases students are actually planning disruptions to get a rise from teachers. That said, Scott has a point. Yes, we only have a snippet of the class period, but what sort of instruction was going on? Scott is right that a lot of discipline problems can be counteracted by good instruction. There is no denying, however, that times are different, and the behavior of these students is appalling.

  19. Charlie A. Roy:

    Adults model behavior for children. How do we react when something doesn’t go our way? You have to give respect to receive it. What these videos attest to is how not to handle discipline situations in the classroom.

    Twelve years after high school I can’t remember all the content I learned but I do remember my teachers.

    Teachers teach more of who they are as a person to the students than content. They need to understand this.

    Kids will always have a way of pushing buttons and to learn respect they need to be treated with respect. Yes it is very difficult. I believe teaching is one of the hardest disciplines to perfect and achieve master level status in. But, it can be done. It can be done very well.

  20. Taylor:

    Something is wrong with the trackback function in my wordpress, so please consider this my trackback: Let’s Play Pin the Tail on the Grown Up

  21. audrey:

    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.

  22. Shaun:

    I … am not sure what to say. I’m so offended by the appalling behavior, that I’m honestly without words. Both the teachers and the students … shame. Pure shame.

  23. Mike:

    These students do not respect their teachers or fear punishment. If they knew their butts would be kicked if they got out of line, they might have second thoughts about acting like complete idiots.

    Take a board to their ass and maybe their parents as well.

    If not they are destined to be nothing but useless trash to our society.

  24. Lisa Parisi:

    I agree with Audrey. The behavior of both the students and the teachers is deplorable. The teachers need to learn a new method of interacting with the students and the students need to learn a little respect.

    And, Scarlett, sometimes we do have to hold our tongue when someone is mistreating us. If it is an employer or someone in position of authority, one must use different methods to fight back. Disrespect will never get you what you want. These students need to learn that, too.

  25. Sad so Sad:

    Kids today don’t understand what “respect your elders” actually means. And frankly, they are not to blame anyway. Thanks parents for your bang up job on our future.

  26. jerry smith:

    I go to a private high school and never have seen teachers act in this way, neither students. I completely agree that the problems boils down to the parents. There is no structure in families anymore..it is a great shame. America is sliding down hill and losing its values. My cousin in France told me they must stand when a teacher enters a class room. Why can’t we have more class like that? Students are reckless, and I feel sorry that they don’t grasp the meaning of education as I have come to learn. The American dream is possilbe, yet needs drastic improvement.

  27. Digitalbrian:

    I am shocked to see how these students behave, teachers are NOT paid enough to stand up for this kind of abuse, parents need to whip into their children that they are in school so they can learn and be prepared for their grown up years, not so they can party and be obnoxious not to mention abusive towards their teachers.

    Some of these teachers has thousands of dollars in student loans so they could become teachers and create a brighter future for these kids, and this is what they have to stand for?

    Do these kids even realize that many teachers has to pay out of their own pocket for materials and items for the classroom, do they realize that by acting like this they appear to be complete losers rather than cool like they think they are.

    I am ashamed of these students.

  28. ~April:

    Now I know why tigers eat their young.

  29. Kate Olson:

    I truly believe that some of these were completely staged for the videos – students are more and more frequently staging fights for YouTube videos, these are the same sort of thing just drawing authority figures into the picture. I’m in no position to offer classroom management advice, so won’t go there.

  30. chris morgan:

    Riveting post–wonderful for discussion. If I were to show these videos in class, I’d be sure to stress the notions of context and construct–especially with that last one (could it be scripted?).

    I’d talk about how we do not have to see these actions as EITHER something to be punished OR something to be applauded. I’d caution them on the dangers of making judgments before knowing all the important information. Then, I’d watch them again! :)

  31. range:

    Kids can’t have phones, ipods, multimedia players, Nintendos in my classroom. I see them, I confiscate them and give them to the principal.

    No one can film me teaching, but the school. In Asia, classrooms are often filmed, so getting filmed doesn’t bother me too much.

    Naturally, these kids shouldn’t use their phones to do this. They should be following in class.

  32. Fred:

    I do not think that this kind of behavior is appropriate. Even if you’re mad about the way a teacher teaches, you shouldn’t post the video on youtube.

    Both the students and the teachers are at wrong. One, the students shouldn’t be doing those things at all. If they didn’t there wouldn’t be anything for the teacher to be mad about. Two, in a few videos, it looks like the students are obviously provoking the teacher for entertainment and for the purpose of filming it.

    The teachers could have reacted in a better way. Though we never know what happened before the video started. Maybe that was the last straw and the teacher couldn’t stand it.

    This whole thing is just wrong. I’ve never experienced something like this. I’m in a public high school and this has never happened. Sure I’ve had a few of teachers getting angry for repeatedly telling students to be quiet, but they had a reason.

  33. MaxImum:

    All stems back to the abrogation of parent and teacher right to discipline children

  34. Dean Shareski:


    See Liz Kolb’s site re: cellphones.


    Your suggestion or rules of banning these tools is not only rules them out as learning tools but in a few years, we won’t have a choice. Better to figure out how to leverage them now,while we still have a choice.

    That said, there is a huge piece around manners here and appropriate use. Just today I posted a picture of a friend and forgot to get his permission. While I’m not sure the students in these videos would respond to the issue of respect for privacy, it begs the demand for these concepts to be taught often and early in schools.

  35. Ryan:

    Private schools have an unfair advantage in situations like these. The parents are willing to pay extra and are more likely to take their childs schooling seriously since it is such an investment. Kids who act like any of these kids can get thrown out of any decent private school as well.

    In my experience, it is often the elder teachers who have the best control, and not the younger teachers… I am not a fan of the new methods of dealing with the classroom. Time and time again they fail against the disciplined traditional methods. I’m not opposed to classrooms being monitored, but students with videophones are the last people who need to be monitoring their teachers (unless there is an academic reason like tape recording a lecture)… they need to be paying attention. The actions of some of these kids absolutely should never be allowed to detract from those kids who are there to learn.

    These videos are appalling, and it’s ironic these kids should have any sort of pride or self-righteousness when all they have done is put their immaturity and juevenile lack of respect on display. These videos ought to be sent out with these kids’ resumes.

  36. Arnie:

    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.

  37. http://vitorfreitas.wordpress.com/2008/03/07/professores-x-alunos/:


  38. Kate:

    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.

  39. Sublime:

    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.

  40. dave:

    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.

  41. Glen:

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

  42. MrStench:

    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.

  43. Erik:

    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.

  44. Scott McLeod:

    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:



  45. Dave Sherman:

    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.

  46. Tina:

    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.

  47. Marc:

    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.

  48. jacquio:

    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.

  49. jonson roth:

    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.

  50. Beau:

    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.


  51. Matthew:

    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!

  52. Greta:

    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.

  53. Mandie:

    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.

  54. Sick of rudeness:

    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!

  55. Mark:

    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.

  56. Doug Johnson:

    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.


  57. Blair Peterson:

    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.

  58. Scott McLeod:

    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:



  59. June Marie:

    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.

  60. john:

    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.

  61. Collean:

    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.

  62. Sue King:

    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!

  63. radiohode:

    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.

  64. Misty:

    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.

  65. natalie:

    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…

  66. John Berry:

    I wish it was different in the UK

  67. Matt:

    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.

  68. Mark Barnes:

    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.

  69. Lee:

    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:

  70. Vincent Baxter:

    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…

  71. Ben Fulton:

    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!

  72. Sue King:

    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?????

  73. mister teacher:

    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.

  74. Claire:

    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.

  75. Betty:

    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.

  76. sean:

    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

  77. Tony Scialdone:

    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.

  78. sean:

    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.

  79. jeff:

    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

  80. A. Mercer:

    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.

  81. Bob:

    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.

  82. Paul West:

    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.

  83. Walter Pittman:

    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.

  84. Loraine:

    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.

  85. Mildred:

    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.

  86. Liz:

    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.

  87. pamphyila:

    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.

  88. Eileen:

    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.

  89. Doctor T:

    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.

  90. j:

    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.

  91. Educational musings:

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

  92. David W. Keane:

    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.

  93. Mary:

    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.


  94. Robyn:

    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.





  95. riz:

    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.

  96. Jeremy:

    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.

  97. Dorie LaRue:

    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…

  98. jp:

    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.

  99. Roberta West:

    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

  100. Disturbed:

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

  101. Fred:

    I watched all the videos but grew tired of reading all the comments. (As interesting as they were, the were all very similar.) One thing that seems to be missing from many is the role of the teacher. As a classroom teacher, I recognize that these problems are part of a pattern that begins on day one. Traditionally students come into class ready to learn. I call this the honeymoon period. It is during this time that teachers have to establish routines–one of which is respect. Although I hesitate to critique my colleagues since I do not know the context of the clips I saw, I do wonder how engaged these students are? What methods are being used to deliver instruction.
    There are many well meaning teachers who simply are unaware of the changing realities under which they labor. Technology has changed students’ minds. As educators we have to stop clinging to the old way of doing things (lecture and worksheet) and embrace these changes. The fault lies with the administration and the school boards who demand rigor and improved test results but refuse to pay for teachers to update their skills.

  102. M:

    This is why China will overtake America in the next 100 years. Your children’s grandchildren will be slaves to their Chinese overlords. Bring corporal punishment back into the schools, take away the cellphones and internet and tv garbage. The parents are retarded, the kids are animals. Good luck.

  103. Trusted.MD Network:

    Catching Sparrows Rounds Up The Edublogging Discussion on Classroom Mangement

    Here you go: Anyway, if you haven’t noticed the recent debates/commentaries on classroom management, you don’t get out into the blogosphere enough, so I’ll bring it to you. dy/dan posted about classroom management, Dangerously Irrelevant then one-up

  104. HERESY:


    Dangerously Irrelevant: Cell phone cameras in the K-12 classroom: Punishable offenses or student-citizen journalism? Take a look at the seven YouTube videos below, all taken by student cell phone cameras in classrooms….

  105. meneame.net:

    Problemas escolares

    Una serie de 7 videos en los que estudiantes filman a sus profesores al borde de un ataque de nervios por la faltas de respeto.

  106. Noticias externas:

    Front Page of the New York Times…

    My dad used to say to us growing up: Act as if what you are doing will be on the front page of

  107. Igniting the Revolution...:

    Front Page of the New York Times…

    My dad used to say to us growing up: “Act as if what you are doing will be on the front page of the New

  108. 2008 Edublog Award Nominations | SoYouWantToTeach.Com:

    […] influential blog post – Cell phone cameras in the K-12 classroom: Punishable offenses or student-citizen journalism? (Dangerously […]

  109. The Deep-Seated Problems With Public Education | SoYouWantToTeach.Com:

    […] }); }In case you haven’t already seen it, this post of teacher misbehavior caught on cell phones from Dangerously Irrelevant has been making the rounds. I saw it on Seth Godin’s blog, of all […]

  110. Parents, Students, And Teachers…Whose Right Is It Anyway? | SoYouWantToTeach.Com:

    […] It started with one post on Dangerously Irrelevant of 7 videos taken on cell phones by students of teachers. […]

  111. maggie798:

    I did feel very sorry for each and every teacher who found themselves in this position. I do agree that it does take a lack in skill to get to the point where students are flagrantly disrespectful. Unfortunately, I’m not sure the teachers realized that. Before I entered my first classroom, I knew that the best way to deal with a troublesome one was to cut it from the herd, then discuss the behavior. No public embarrassment to the student and no one to impress.

  112. fred:

    lol lol lol lol lol lol lol lol yes schools schould have cameras

  113. Diana Brown:

    This is horrible. It makes my stomach uneasy. These students are as out of control as the teachers yelling at them. As a mother, I would be horribly ashamed if my child were provoking a teacher like some of those students in the videos. On the other hand as an educator, I would be mortified to see myself in my weakest moment loosing a battle with self control as my students egged me on. I have been on both sides of the spectrum… The disrespectful, self-righteous/centered teenager, as well as the furious, ridiculous,ranting teacher. Both of which now make me feel ashamed. The students should most definitely not be applauded for their recordings, but the teachers need to be dealt with accordingly as well. Classroom management has gone out the window here. When you are in a position of leadership, be it a classroom or not, you cannot take low blows personally. You must keep your ego under wrap and let the students know that you’re there to teach, not argue. These disgraceful power struggles, illuminated by youtube, are no-win situations.

  114. sKabachia:

    I agree with Diana Brown, that the videos are horrible and sickening. I also agree that I would be ashamed of my children for behaving that way in any setting. However, I would like to think that I would be aware enough of my child’s daily life that they would not be in a classroom where the teacher relies heavily on lectures, rote memory and ritualized adherence to nationalism. I hope I am able to steer my boys into classrooms where the teacher at least clarifies the reasons for them to learn they way they’re being taught, not including “that’s the way it’s done.”

    As for the existence of these videos: they are useful to teachers, if only to show us how pitiful we look when we stoop to the level of name-calling and insults too many of our students wallow in themselves. If we cannot consistently model decorum and civility for our students we have no right to expect them to outperform us in a situation where we are, ourselves, failing. I also hope that, should any of these teachers deliver a stimulating and enlightening lesson, their students will be just as quick to give them props online as they are to humiliate them.


  115. Steven King:

    This is a sad indictment of our society. Brainless maniacs come to our classrooms every day with no sense of discipline and no accountability. Teachers are constantly burdened to “do more” with less and realize, at the end of the day, whatever occurs in their classroom is their fault. Who’s to blame? Parents? Society? We feed various stereotypes that make kids aspire to all the wrong things and many read two or more years below grade level.

    What is the solution? Accountability…

    Make a parent PAY for a failing grade by requiring payment for a re-do. Then, let’s see how many kids “act a fool” in the classroom.

    I taught in public schools for four years. It is a nightmare developing on a run away train…

  116. sKabachia:

    @Steven (Stephen?) King Your teaching experience is clearly different from mine. I hope that I would have the fortitude to leave such atrocious conditions. I might even write a few horror novels about the trials of adolescence in a world so obviously overrun by evil and darkness.


  117. Juxtaposition | Free The Animal:

    […] had intended to blog about this collection of cell phone videos (link: Seth Godin) taken in public school classrooms that, really, resemble more the monkey cages […]

  118. Celeste's Blog » Blog Archive » Teacher baiting with mobile phones:

    […] say that the above incident can be considered an extreme case, but videos such as the ones posted here , can make any teacher think twice about allowing kids carry these devices in their […]

  119. Miss Meghan's Medley » Week 8 Reflection: Dangerously Irrelevant,Cell phone cameras in the K-12 classroom: Punishable offenses or student-citizen journalism?:

    […] example of criticism taught me how not to teach. The reverse psychology behind it all, that dangerously irrelevant did by using this post, […]

  120. Michael Phillips:

    In the videos depicted above I think it is evident that BOTH students AND teachers behaved poorly. That said, with the exception of the first video most of these teachers appear to be unaware of the fact that they are being video-taped and I think that’s shameful for a number of reasons. The first and most obvious reason is the violation of privacy I feel this behavior constitutes. Also, I can’t help wondering how students would feel if their classroom behaviors were videotaped by teachers and then uploaded to youtube without their informed consent.

    Perhaps part of the controversy here is the changing notion of privacy in a digital age. The evolution of privacy’s definition has not kept pace with the ubiquitous nature of public technology and social media. A great paper on this topic was written by Ramon Barquin and Clayton Northouse of the “Computer Ethics Institute” take a look if you want to learn more, section three is particularly compelling and relevant to this discussion:


  121. David Lowe:

    To me this video shows the disconnect between older generational thinking and a new paradigm. Children have more rights today than adults. Adults work in an environment in which they are held accountable for outcomes and not given supports and resources to work effectively.

    The real issue is not what happened it is what was to do to assure this kind of interaction does not happen. In schools today, teachers (substitutes in this case) are expected to manage participants with diverse learning needs while at the same time, having no knowledge of what the needs are of the participants, no training to manage bad outcomes and no staff support.

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