Safety in the workplace while teaching juvenile's on probation : LUSENET : GLASSER Choice Theory & Reality Therapy : One Thread

I work in a self contained classroom, working with juvenile offenders on probation, ages 14 through 18. Many of our students are felons. Our school district works in unison with the Mental Health agency in our county and also the Probation department. We are all on the same site. We are the only school at the site connected with the Charter Program under El Dorado Office of Education. On April 10, 2001 I was threatened by two students in the classroom in front of the head teacher, I am the assistant. One student said "It's teachers like you Kim, that get shot", and this was followed by a comment from a second student who said "Yeah, let's go on a Kim shoot." I have reported these students to my employer and their response to these actions by these students has been extremely minimal. Do you have any advice on what my expectations should be from my employer and supervisors in this manner? I am being pressured to return to the classroom with these same students who have had no consequences for their actions. In addition the head teacher and myself are constantly divided about discipline issues in full view of our students, thus allowing students to use the apparent division against us. It is my feeling that the threats were inevitable given the dynamics of our classroom. I have spoken to the teacher and administrators for months about this problem, yet it has been unresolved as the teacher has made it very clear that she will not pretend to agree with me when she doesn't. My only request of this head teacher has been that when we discover that we do not agree on an issue that we need to appear united in front of the students and then work out our differences behind closed doors. That the ultimate goal is to stand as a team and not side with students. The overall situation has caused me tremendous stress. I have asked for another position in the district and that request was denied. Can you provide me with any positive input to help remedy this situation? Thank you for your time. Sincerely, Kim Bertolani

-- Kim Bertolani (, April 21, 2001



I am immediatly wondering what you have done to build relationship with the head teacher? I hear you want change (and reasonably so, i might add) and I'm thinking that as a human being, when someone wants me to change, I definitely must have a relationship with them or I don't want to change. Since you cannot control the head teacher, and you can only control you and how you proceed I'd suggest three qestions for you to answer.

What do you want in this situation? Be clear and specific. What are YOU going to do to get it? (Since the greatest probablility is that no one else will get it for you? How will you know YOU got it?

In all seriousness, this is a very serious situation, but I believe that the root is in the relationships you develop, both with the students, and with the head teacher.

-- Lil Hosman (, April 22, 2001.

Give me a break. The answer given to Kim's question makes me sick. Kim is supposed to educate these ingrates? The problem is definitely NOT relationships. The real problem is unacceptable behavior by those who are entirely culpable for their actions. Just give them their diplomas now and the prison system will take care of the rest. It's high time society stopped making excuses for adolescents because of age and race. It would be even nicer if we'd get real honest and say in the open what everyone thinks privately. If you don't believe me, grow up and read the FBI stats about crime and race. But of course, cowards will never do anything truly progressive.

-- Chuck (, November 28, 2001.

I agree with the first response -- you have to decide what you want and what you can do to make it happen. These kids have not been given a fair shake in this world and lack a lot of skills and supports. In my opinion, they lack a vision of a "quality world" because they have not been part of one in their past; they lack the belief that they can change their world, having options other than the lifestyle they have led so far. We have to open the doors for them, help them change their belief systems and build their confidence, self-esteem, and trust in the world. I facilitate a parenting program at a Correctional Centre and this centre offers many programs to help the gentlemen change their lives around. Those that take the programs have a chance at not returning to their old ways; those that don't take programs will most like keep repeating their past because they know of no other ways to meet their needs. Sending them to jail as punishment (control) isn't the answer. Nothing gets changed and the punishments get harder and harder and harder but still it does not stop, because they haven't been given the skills and guidance to change. For the boys, Kim, is to start building a positive relationship with them, building a trust and respect (through honesty, listening, consistency, firmness) THEN you can make a difference. Best of luck and stay safe. Debbie

-- Debbie Roswell-P (, December 22, 2001.

I have started substitute teaching at a school for adjudicated youth. I am also an itenerant substitute for other schools. It is my belief that these students need a very consistent policy that starts at the top. In the school that I have taught, students are clearly aware of the rules and the consequences. They know that if they get written up on a Student Behavioral Report, they will receive consequences. Threatening a teacher, as your students did, is extremely serious and create serious consequences, such as suspension. Let's look at these students. Many of them have no concept of right and wrong. Many have never had decent family lives. Many never had been held accountable for their actions. The bottom line is that when students are given consequences, they are being helped! Kim, you are correct in your assessment of the situation. The school is negligent from the top down. I suggest your try to find another job. And I suspect that if your situation is similar to the one at the school in which I sub, they probably will need you more than you need them. As for developing a relationship with the teacher, that is not relevant in this situation, where the school administration is not doing their jobs. This teacher sounds like she only wants to put in her hours and get her paycheck. The Broomb.

-- Broombie (, February 24, 2002.

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