Something has transpired that has negatively impacted many of our educational systems and networks. Back in the fifties, sixties and seventies when I was in school, the discipline issues that I face daily never occurred. What did we do or eat or experience since then that has completely corrupted many of the schools, the students and the education process as a whole?

Having visited hundreds of classrooms between my life then and now, I realize that change is not universal or pervasive. Across America, we certainly must enjoy discipline, courtesy and compliance in some locations. But they are now the exception rather than the rule, I am afraid.

Last week I was accused of being a racist, that I hated Mexicans. I was also called the “B” word by a student who refused to leave unacceptable websites. When I asked someone else to turn off her computer, I was told, “No!” On an ongoing basis, I receive dirty looks, name-calling and being completely ignored.

This is not behavior reserved specifically for me. Other teachers report the same nastiness and disrespect. Has this always prevailed in depressed neighborhoods or it is it a new phenomenon? My surprise is increased by the fact that the ethnic groups with whom I work are often those who emphasize and require parental respect and honor.

Because I always search for solutions, I find myself accusing me of a failure to remain patient or accommodating. While introspection is good, self-recrimination is not unless it results in improvements.

Asking problem students to assist with tasks is one solution that occasionally works. Taking them aside to request cooperation also works from time to time. But sadly, some students enjoy the attention, some dislike guest teachers and in some cases, I’ll never know why disruption occurs.

It’s always the sweet, helpful, affectionate and usually quiet kids who cause me to return for another day. They are apologetic, sincere and grateful for my presence, causing me to realize that these are the ones whom I teach. Those who oppose me may or may not learn to enjoy my attention. Shalom.

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