This week, Ask WeAreTeachers takes on a student who won’t stop staring at his teacher’s breasts, being micromanaged, and more.
My student keeps staring at my boobs, even after I’ve talked to him about it.
I teach secondary, and I have a problem with a certain student in my class who will not stop staring at my breasts. It makes it so hard to teach. I mean, you try teaching the Pythagorean theorem with a teenager mentally undressing you. I’ve already pulled him aside and given him a talk on respect. At the time, he said he understood, but he has continued to do it. I hate how it makes me feel, but he’s just a kid. I am really reluctant to escalate things. Do I have any other choices before I do this? —My Eyes Are Up Here
First and foremost, you need to protect yourself here. And although you’re loath to do it, you’re going to have to involve the counselor or administrator. And document, document, document.
Teacher Tova R. advises, “I definitely wouldn’t have conversations with the kid or even with parents about it. So much of what you say can be misinterpreted/twisted and leave you in a very bad spot. I would go the admin/counselor route. Be very straightforward and clear about what is happening and stand up for yourself.”
I know you want to support your student, but your feelings matter here, and you deserve to feel safe in your workplace.
My instructional coach makes me turn in 300-slide PowerPoint lesson plans, and I’m over it.
I think I made a big mistake moving to this school. I’ve always had great admin who’ve given me autonomy in the classroom … and my students have excelled. This year, I have to turn in 300 slide PowerPoints and an exemplar of every note that is going to be taken (I’ve even been told exactly what the notes have to contain). We can’t do small groups. We have no fun activities. The instructional coach requiring this hasn’t been in the classroom in years and certainly never had to teach hybrid. My kids are learning about as much as you’d think. How do I get away from this? —Micromanaged and Mad About It
As my mom likes to say, you can do anything as long as you know there’s an end in sight. And you’re almost through the school year. You can do this.
Try to spend the rest of the year focusing on the kids as much as possible. Do what you need to do to check the boxes, but look for places where you can use your creativity. You could also think about fighting the requirement. Talk to your union rep. Teacher Matthew D. says, “I have had to file complaints against my own district. The battles were worth the result produced.”
You’ll have to evaluate whether it’s worth it. I think you need to take a long, hard look at whether this is really the right place for you. If admin is going to get that granular, they’re going to burn their teachers out. I suggest you start applying for other jobs. You know as well as I do that not every school is like this.
My spouse doesn’t understand what it’s like to be a teacher and says I’m no fun anymore.
It’s been a tough year, and sometimes I just want to come home and get some damn sympathy. When I talk about my day, my partner tries over and over again to give me advice, but he’s not a teacher. I try to explain that I can’t just not turn in my grades, tell off a parent, or take a mental health day without leaving sub plans, but he keeps chiming in with “solutions.” How do you deal with family members who just don’t get it? —Misunderstood Middle School Teacher
I have this problem with my husband, and I’m not even in the classroom anymore. I think a lot of partners need to be told before the venting begins that that’s all you’re looking to do: vent. You don’t need them to fix it.
That being said, teacher Dee A. advises, “Most people don’t understand, so why try to make them? The last time they were in a classroom was when they were in school. They have no idea. I just don’t engage them.”
I know it would be nice to get a dose of “I’m so sorry that happened” from your partner, but I’m a firm believer that one person can’t meet all your needs. I would lean on the people who do understand, like your fellow teachers.
My heart is breaking for my Asian American students.
I teach at a majority Asian American charter school. With the increase in violence against AAPI people, not to mention the racism they themselves have faced at school, many of my students are dealing with stress and anxiety. I love my kids and would do anything for them, but I’m just one person, and I’m feeling the stress, too. How do you deal with the pain of dealing with your kids’ problems? —Brokenhearted and Burned Out
I’m so glad that you are there for these students. Our Asian American students need to hear from their teachers right now that they are seen, welcome, and valued members of the school community. These resources for responding to anti-AAPI violence in the classroom are a good place to start.
But don’t feel like you have to take it all on yourself. Teacher Kristen B. suggests, “Reach out to a group working on this issue and connect your students with this. I think that having a school-wide discussion and recognition for your students would help.”
As for your own stress, you can’t pour from an empty vessel. If you are experiencing vicarious trauma, which isn’t uncommon for teachers, you should reach out for help. WE Teachers advises leaning on a support system that may include co-workers, friends, family, and professional counseling.
Do you have a burning question? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
I think a student stole my Airpods, and I’m so disappointed.
I pride myself on having positive and trusting relationships with my middle schoolers. Well, at least I used to. Because I’m pretty sure an 8th grade student stole my AirPods today. I was listening to music and eating lunch in my room during my break. I’m super careful to keep them in their case in my top desk drawer, and I swear I put them back in there after lunch. But as I was getting ready to leave at the end of the day, suddenly the AirPods were nowhere to be found—not in my drawer, in my purse, or on my desk. I’m so upset. The AirPods were expensive, but it’s more about feeling like my relationship with my students has been damaged. I’m not sure how to go about this situation or what to do. Please advise.