This isn’t my first time teaching high school. My first teaching gig was high school, I taught seniors and freshman and for the most part liked it enough to decide that teaching was the right career choice for me. The right choice to enable me time to write and still have meaningful, and stimulating conversation almost regularly.
While, I love teaching college, unfortunately I need to graduate with my MFA in order to get a permanent teaching job. I’m hoping that I get to do this in the fall. This past week has been a reminder to me about my goals, my ambitions, and what is right for me as both a writer and teacher.
Don’t get me wrong, I have good kids, and I’m teaching American Literature which means I’m teaching some really really great stuff. The teacher I took over for, I believe, did not have her whole heart in teaching which would explain why she left in the middle of the year. I teach three classes, one of the classes is great. The students are well-behaved and quiet. They let me teach, rarely talk over me–they are a teacher’s dream. My other two classes are not so lovely, and while it is partly because the students all seem to be friends both classes have one student who are such distractions that I’m not quite sure what to do with them.
Now, I’m a young female teacher. I’m in my mid twenties and while I’m not super thin, I’m not fat either. I dress professionally and I’m a goof. For some reason, these two boy students think I’m some gorgeous goddess and are constantly hitting on me while I’m trying to teach. It’s not flattering, it’s annoying. They are rude, and I’m concerned their behavior will get me into trouble.
Yes, yes, yes I’ve told them about how inappropriate they are being and have told them how unethical and unprofessional it is for students and teachers to have romantic relationships. I’ve also told them that hell could freeze over, and the Pope could come visit me in his fabulous Prada shoes and I still would not date them. Never, not in a million years. Never ever ever, so stop asking.
I will admit, it was slightly comical on the first day. I tried knocking them down which resulted in other students reminding these rude students that their teacher had “burned” them and “oh snap! our teacher don’t play!” Day two, I reminded them that they were being inappropriate and rude. “No, I will not be your facebook friend. I’m not your friend I’m your teacher. Also, I don’t like you.” After THREE friend requests from the same student I changed my privacy settings so that only my friends could find me and subsequently blocked this student and reported them to facebook.
Days three and four I thought ignoring them would end the problem. It did not. By Friday, I reminded them of the ethical issues, called and emailed their parents and alerted adminstration.
There are a few things that bother me about this situation. The first is that I’m being sexually harassed by seventeen year old boys. I refuse to be a victim to this. I do not dress inappropriately, and do not discuss topics in my classroom that would warrant any advances from my students. This is flat-out abuse and I will not tolerate it. I have no problem asking adminstration to switch them out of my classroom.
The second thing that bothers me is that they are disrupting the learning of the other students. This is also unacceptable. The students are there to learn, and I am there to teach them. This rude harassment is preventing me from doing my job at one hundred percent. This is not acceptable.
Finally, this behavior is not acceptable for boys who wish to contribute to society and eventually date–if they aren’t already–girls. No woman should be treated like this, regardless of if they are the teacher, or an innocent girl at a bar. The constant pushing by these boys is not okay. If a girl says, “no I don’t want to be with you,” the boy shouldn’t keep asking over and over again. They must move on. In the instance with the facebook friending–it is flat-out stalking which is illegal. High school is the age when boys and girls are supposed to learn how to treat each other when it comes to dating and things like that, and these boys are tormentors, abusers, and it should not and will not be tolerated.
I discussed this issue I was having in my classroom with my best friend, who is a high school teacher as well. She was shocked by the consistent behavior and was surprised the other students in the class were letting it go on. She said it was one thing for it to happen for two days but the fact that it was blatant and continuing was a red flag.
Her saying this made me think of being in high school, while my class never had a young good-looking female teacher, I know the boys in my class would not have allowed any boys to be so rude to a woman. It would have been an issue that would have been self-regulated by the students. It makes me wonder if young boys have become too aggressive when it comes to advances towards girls. If this is the case, I’m pretty sure the crap kids watch on tv is partly to blame.
I may use this situation as a teaching moment to show the boys that treating women like objects and harassing them is not the way to get a girl to like you; sexual harassment is illegal.
One of my deepest concerns is that these boys will start some horrible rumor that insinuates some kind of inappropriate relationship between the teacher (me) and the student. While, of course, this is not going on, students can be cruel and I’m concerned for my career. I’ve worked too hard and long to have my professional reputation put at risk because of two horny seventeen year olds.
I’m hoping the harassment stops once the parents and adminstration get involved.
I will say this week has been eye-opening, and has given me a lot of motivation to graduate this summer. Can’t wait!