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Their opinion doesn't matter
Old 04-03-2015, 08:55 AM
 
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My current student teacher is doing a wonderful job! In my years and years of teaching, I've rarely seen one so dedicated. Of course she makes new teacher mistakes but she learns from them well.

Here's my dilemma. I've tried and tried unsuccessfully to get her to realize that the students' opinions of her don't matter. A few students have made comments (teenage random vomit talk) and my student teacher takes them too seriously.

Why are younger teachers allowing kids/teens to bring down their self confidence with things said in a classroom? What tips would you all have for me to say to her?


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Keep being positive
Old 04-03-2015, 08:07 PM
 
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I think some people, more than others, have a harder time ignoring negative comments. I think that's true with old, young, etc. I say praise, praise, praise. Be specific. I'm assuming what the students say is untrue in your eyes. If so, take what they say and say she does that really well or is really good at that. I wait until the comment from them passes over so she doesn't see what you are trying to do. I think with time it will get better, but at the same time, know that this is something a lot of teachers struggle with.
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Old 04-04-2015, 05:05 AM
 
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Remind her that kids say stuff like that specifically to get under someone's skin. Kids are smart, and not always moral, and they can often figure out exactly where your soft underbelly is and stick something right in it. It doesn't matter to them if the thing is true, it matters if it will bother you. It makes them feel powerful and in-control to do that to another person. Some teens learn their lesson, but many adults do this too. To maintain your own power, you never, EVER show that this bothered you in the moment. If you do, they get EXACTLY what they wanted. If there is a conversation about it, it happens later, after you've cooled down, and it can go in many directions Disapproving doesn't usually work, so I usually go with getting them to feel guilty (that was really hurtful, would never insult you because I respect you, etc.) or with waiting until the child/adult needs something from me and bringing it up (well, since you think my lessons/contributions are too boring to stay awake through, why would you want to stay extra after school/for a meeting?). I do this not to be petty, but to get them to realize that their actions have consequences.

She will learn, as I did, to extract anything useful from the comments and then let the rest go. I once got a three-page letter from a parent listing everything I'd ever done wrong to her son. I worried about it for three months. Looking back, it was a power play. The child had a lot of difficulties and she was lashing out in response, and I had done my very best to address them. Hindsight is 20/20!
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Old 04-04-2015, 05:21 AM
 
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It comes with age. When we start teaching we take every opinion to heart. As we get older, only a few comments will bother us. After a certain amount of time we just don't care what anyone thinks. We have proven ourselves. You can just reassure her that she is doing a great job.
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Vulnerable
Old 04-04-2015, 06:40 AM
 
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I think being new and non-tenured does make teachers more vulnerable to what others think.

I have experienced this with administrators and have seen in it happen to others: If an administrator gets complaints from other teachers, students or staff, that administrator will not bother to stand up for the new teacher even if the complaints are unfounded or downright petty. Unless the new teacher has an in (related to someone, friend outside work, uncommon certification/skill set) the newbie is toast.

You can be as confident in your abilities as you want, but a big part of being new is keeping your head down and not making too many waves.

If you want to help your student teacher, tell her you will very pleased to give her reference and will be happy to put in a good word for her whenever or wherever you can. Keep praising her privately and publicly.


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Old 04-04-2015, 07:17 AM
 
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Comments that have truth to them should be taken seriously even if they are hurtful. Comments that have no basis in truth should be ignored. Maybe instead of trying to teach her to ignore all student comments teacher her to evaluate the opinion critically and accept that part of growing as a teacher is accepting that mistakes happen and learn from them.

Self-confidence is important, but ignoring a comment from a student because it cuts at self-confidence is an error too. If you want a strong teacher, you need to help her learn that self-confidence includes being able to evaluate criticism, determine if you play a role, accept that mistakes happen, and learn from it going forward. Have her self-confidence come from knowing she has control over her actions going forward.
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Old 04-04-2015, 07:39 AM
 
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What kind of comments are they making? Are you sure they're unfounded? I have to disagree with the general statement that their opinions don't matter. I survey my students throughout the year because often their opinions are the ones that matter most. From those surveys, I've learned that I didn't spend enough time in the back of the room and that I didn't always give clear, definitive dues dates. Of course, there are also throw away responses like the student who complained that I didn't let students listen to music while they work.

On the other hand, many of the usual in-class comments that used to bother me, I now take as compliments. I love when I get a "you're mean" or a "I hate this class" because it usually means I've stood my ground and given a consistent consequence etc., something I was afraid to do my first year.
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Keep doing what you are doing
Old 04-04-2015, 08:17 AM
 
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Just keep saying what you are saying. Let her know that teachers have to develop toughness because parents, principals and yes students will criticize her . It may be justified and it may not be justified but teachers are very much under the spotlight these days. Prepare her for that and you will do her a big favor in the long run.
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Sticks and stones
Old 04-04-2015, 10:39 AM
 
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I didn't start teaching until I was 30. I am not sure that I would have been able to endure all the "feedback" from students, parents, admin, etc. when I was younger. Not saying it doesn't still sting sometimes. Is there any way you could have a conversation with your students about how their comments are impacting the student teacher. And make it into a lesson on human kindness and the basic needs that all humans need to feel accepted and appreciated.
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