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Teacher offensive to child

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Haworth89, Apr 3, 2019.

  1. Haworth89

    Haworth89 New commenter

    Hello everyone. Not sure what to do. At the end of the day yesterday my class teacher asked a child who was shouting out are you special needs and then told the child to sit with me. Obviously the child was very upset. Now this child is likely to go home and tell his parents what has happened but should I also tell the head this morning?
    Matt994 and pepper5 like this.
  2. livingstone83

    livingstone83 Occasional commenter

    No, I would't.

    Not trying to excuse the teacher here, that was clearly unacceptable - but going above someone's head is rarely something I'd ever do. Better to have a word with the teacher yourself.

    If you're not a fan of conflict, then simply tell the teacher that the kid told you they were upset, and your'e not sure if the kid will tell the parents. This should be enough to get the teacher thinking.

    In the situation that the Head or SLT ask you directly, then yeah. Tell them what was said. Though in all honesty I doubt they'll ask you. If the kid complains, SLT should go straight to the teacher - who will, knowing you heard it, admit it and apologise.

    If you have a word with the teacher and they continually use language like this, then tell the teacher that you will go to the Head.

    Conflicts are always best dealt with without immediate escalation.
  3. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    If I were the teacher, I think I would be more worried about other children - particularly those with special needs - reporting this to their parents.
    jlishman2158 and agathamorse like this.
  4. dodie102

    dodie102 Occasional commenter

    Does the teacher habitually use this type of language as a way to criticise behaviour or were you a witness to a teacher at the end of their tether at the end of term?

    Teachers are professionals and should behave in a professional manner but we have all said things that we regret in the heat of the moment. I would have a chat with your colleague and try and smooth the ground. If I was the teacher I would apologise to the student and the class in a calm way - thus modelling the kind of reflective behaviour we like to see in our students. I've done this before and it worked well. I really don't think this is serious enough to go to the head with - unless this is a regular occurrence and again I would talk to the teacher first.
    agathamorse and sbkrobson like this.
  5. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Actually, I disagree with other posters here.
    Can I assume you are the TA in this?
    Firstly, the child was shouting out. Any child who is shouting out and told to sit elsewhere looks upset. So your use of "obviously" is a bit redundant in this respect.
    Secondly, who says "Special Needs" any more?! That's old. It is rarely used. I cannot envisage a member of teaching staff using this term. And because you don't use speech marks, you simply report in reported speech, I can imagine that maybe what they said was "do you have special needs?" meaning literally that. You give no context to the comment, and I am fairly sure that the allusion to special needs was in connection with other things being said at the time.
    Thirdly, you seem intent on the fact of "telling". That the child will "tell", that you ought to "tell" the HT. And you have posted here telling on the teacher. Why? This does not indicate a good working relationship at all to me.

    If you are the TA, you have absolutely no place "telling" on anybody.
    If you have a serious concern about what happened, then follow the complaints policy. If you genuinely think this teacher will benefit from hearing this formally.
    If the child complains to their parent then it is none of your business unless requested as a witness to what was said.
    And if you are concerned about what a teacher said then go and ask them. Do not take them to task. Ask them.
    "Is it ok for us to ask a child directly if they are special needs?"
    At which point a teacher will outline when it is ok (if at all) and when it is not.
    If this particular teacher was indeed using the term in a derisory way or as a put down, then it is perfectly in your place to add that this child was upset. And so allow the teacher to reflect.

    The bigger picture here is that this teacher was managing a situation of multiple children and clearly one of them was disrupting. If they said something which upset this child, ask yourself which is really the bigger evil-the question they put to the child, or the behaviour of the child themselves. Ask yourself if you prefer to champion the cause of this disruptive child over all else, or if you wish to support that teacher in managing behaviour.

    I'm pretty sure some posters are going to disagree with me on this, that there was no huge wrong, and I get why, but I am a teacher and the scenario as depicted clearly misses a nuance. If my TA were to go the HT over this, I would make a mental note of yet another layer of scrutiny. If my TA were to talk to me about it, then I might reflect.

    The obvious solution to this is that the child complains.
    Sometimes they complain at less.
    (Edit ooops-sorry long post, preceded by the same point put much more succinctly!)
    vgh, celago22, hfromh and 16 others like this.
  6. Haworth89

    Haworth89 New commenter

    I am the ta in this. The word obviously was necessary and referring to the fact that he has been made fun of in front of the whole class. The term special needs was used in this situation. The comment was do you have special needs and had no context to the situation we were in. The child muttered a comment and then the teacher replied with do you have special needs knowing full well the child didn't. I'm not intent but the child has spoke to his mum about grievances in the past so would assume this to be the case. I've literally posted on here asking for advice. not to tell on anyone. No names have been mentioned or the school. I think a comment like that is quite offensive and would not like my child to have their teacher say that to them.
    jlishman2158 likes this.
  7. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Thank you for clarifying.
    Please don't think I want to undermine your views, I really don't.
    I still think that you ought to leave that concern to the child, for if they were offended,they can deal with it via their parent, and the teacher will be taken to task if that is deemed necessary..
    I get that the kid may have been offended, and I get that you would not wish this on your own child, so go and speak to the teacher in the way that I and others have indicated. Query and explore the comment. But I do not think it is in your place to portray it as offensive. We all have "ouch" moments when we view the practise of others. It's always a judgement call whether to vocalise it,but if you think a parent is going to step in anyway, I'm not sure you need to feed the fire really.
    It might help you to ask yourself also "would you like your own child to be calling out when the teacher is clearly seeking order for the benefit of everybody's learning?"

    With the right to not be offended comes also the responsibility to not disrupt, and it is really important that you embrace that point-I'm sure you already do, but have made very little of it in relation to your concern.
    hfromh, jlishman2158, Curae and 4 others like this.
  8. Haworth89

    Haworth89 New commenter

    I understand the child shouldn't have interuppted but we had a very similar incident earlier in the day where the behaviour management policy was followed. I have left it and not mentioned it. I just wasn't sure what to do myself as this is something I've not experienced before
  9. dodie102

    dodie102 Occasional commenter

    I can only advise you to talk to your colleague.
    annascience2012 likes this.
  10. Aquamarina1234

    Aquamarina1234 Star commenter

    "Special Needs" has been hijacked as a pejorative in exactly the same way Mongol and Spastic were when I was a kid. It's offensive on many levels, and its use by a teacher to a pupil in this context is unprofessional.
    Don't know why it's your problem, though, OP. If the child complains, the parents and HT will be on the teacher's case. If this is a one-off, I'd keep right out of it. If he does it again, and a private word makes no difference, log the occurrences and follow the complaints procedure.
    ilovesooty and annascience2012 like this.
  11. caitmarlow1

    caitmarlow1 New commenter

    I'll echo what everyone else is saying, just talk to your colleague. They're probably panicking to themselves about what the consequences of their (hopefully) accidental outburst will be and feeling concerned that they have upset the student. If they don't take your comments on board, then it might be time to speak to someone else, but try to hear their side of the story first.
    annascience2012 likes this.
  12. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    Start a professional diary, you can use a word document to do this and write down what was said and done and the date, and your reaction, the child's, teacher's and other children's reaction. You are in a position where you are damned if you do, and damned if you don't. You could be told, 'You should have informed the head,' you could inform the head and suffer victimisation from the teacher and you also have the guilt of knowing that that child need not be humiliated in that way, and that the children with SEND listening, did not have to have their conditions spoken about in that context i.e. a badly behaving child.

    It is so disappointing to hear that this is going on, after ALL the SEND training teachers are put through. If you are not a member of a union, be one and speak to the adviceline on this and gain their advice. You can always report incidents to the union and have it put on your file, in case it becomes an issue later.

    As a TA you are under the power of the teacher, so reporting or speaking to the teacher about it, could effectively end your employment in the school. You know what the teacher and school is like, so what you do, is and always has been your call.
    vgh likes this.
  13. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter


    Oh and I have no truck with keeping up with the latest acronym or whatever for the SAME bleeding thing.
    lovejoy_antiques likes this.
  14. Matt994

    Matt994 New commenter

    All staff in school should feel able to raise concerns about how staff treat children. It doesn't matter if you are a teacher, a TA, kitchen staff or the head - if you feel someone is acting inappropriately, in my opinion you have DUTY to take action.

    I would however agree with other posters that in the first instance a friendly/light touch discussion with the teacher about the incident is the best first port of call, with the complaints policy or a talking to someone more senior being the next stage if this keeps happening. I would agree with other posters that this teacher probably feels bad about how the situation was handled already, and a softly softly approach in the first instance is probably best.

    It's very dangerous to think that because the child's behaviour was worse than the teachers comment, the teacher is excused. We are supposed to be the adults. You can sanction and correct poor behaviour without resorting to the same coping mechanisms that you would discourage in your students.
    MissMinton likes this.
  15. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    We have seen several threads started by teachers who were worried about the consequences of something they said in the heat of the moment. I suspect many of us have said something we later regretted. By all means have a quiet word with the teacher and, if it becomes clear that it is a regular occurrence damaging to children then you would deed to report it. But, I think, not yet.
    vgh, suzuki1690, num3bers and 3 others like this.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    Personally - yes. Sorry, but yes.

    In your view, the term was intended as an insult. If the teacher had used a racial insult, what would you do?

    I understand that it was said by an angry teacher who is unlikely to repeat it. But we have to be accountable even for that sort of thing.
  17. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    It has not escaped my attention that OP has actually posted two variations of what was actually said. It is the nature of their writing to not use speech marks, so either they are both an approximation of what was said, or one is completely wrong.
    It is for this reason that I cannot view it as an insult. OP has simply failed to recount what was said consistently. We do not know what was said.
    So your quote "the term"-
    How does that stand up? We don't even know what the term was. For what should this teacher be accountable?
    Nobody knows.
    Hence my initial post that OP seems more intent on getting somebody into trouble than actually addressing the point of asking with genuine interest what is acceptable.
  18. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    No one is perfect, not even teachers.
    Have I said the odd comment here and there that would have raised eyebrows if someone overheard? Yes!
    Sometimes it gets to the end of the afternoon and you are doing all you can not to throttle them.

    Cut the poor teacher some slack. They are probably knackered at the tail end of the winter term.

    Though it's rather a moot point now anyway.
    If the parent wanted to complain, they already have.
    If the TA wanted to tell tales, they already have.
  19. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

  20. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    The teacher's behaviour seems unprofessional here but teachers all say/do things occasionally and think 'Oh ****' about the prospect of being reported. As a one off I would say nothing or have a word with the teacher. If it is a repeated pattern, you might feel inclined to report it but by then they probably will be getting it from someone else by then.

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