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Fieldnotes 4/6

sidsiddiqui's picture


Today during class, I felt more comfortable with the kids but I was still feeling a little bit like an outsider, and I felt I didn't have much to do. Even though we were one teacher short, the kids were monitored fine for the most part. One very  specifc thing that struck me was that one of the students, Cara, threw another tantrum today. According to the teacher, she was being "unfriendly" and when she was approached about it, she started being rude to the teacher as well. At one point, she spit in the teachers face, arguing that she was a good friend. The teacher made her first sit alone and color in a room, where she asked me to sit with her. Cara didn't say much to me, and another student walked in and started talking to her. They both told me that they were twins and created this entire story up about how they were twins. When the teacher came back in to check on her, Cara was rude again and the teacher had her go to the main officeto spend some time outside of the classroom.

So what:

I really wanted to highlight this event because it struck me to see a student misbehave that much in such a supported environment. These students get any choice of toy, any coloring supply, or anything else they may want to play with. However, they still act rude toward the teachers and don't play well with the other kids. I really don't believe that the students' tantrums are coming from a place of disrespect, because she kept saying that she was a good friend, and I think she was feeling targeted in that moment. However, she was still being extremely disrespectful when she was approached. What I kept wondering was how could this situation have been made a bit smoother? Or, could it have? It really worried me to see a student be so rude but also to see a teacher not be able to control what was happening.

Now What:

I have been wondering a lot about behavior conditioning in this context. How can you make five year olds see that the way that they are behaving is not correct but also not make them feel as if they are being attacked. I feel that many kids may want to withdraw into themselves or lash out when being confronted, and how can you keep them from doing that?


jzhou's picture

I don't know whether it would make a difference if the teacher talked to her in person before pointing out her as "unfriendly" in front of others. Also, to understand her motivation or feelings behind her tantrum, is it possible to talk to her about her emotions and feelings?  

Mmacdougall's picture

I really don't know how behavioral conditioning generally works for these students, but my read on it is that they do not have an understanding of power structures in the same way as other students. These particular students leverage a lot of power in the school, and I would venture to guess in their homes as well. I am wondering if this is maybe too much for them at their particular stage in development? Perhaps being given so much power is not empowering for them?