Editors note: This article does not address Common Core, however we felt it was worth posting since many of these teaching methods are being pushed as Common Core is being implemented in our classrooms.

“Bad Teacher-Student Behaviors Increasing”
by Donna Garner 10.30.14


I am certainly no psychologist, but I was a classroom teacher for more than 33 years.  I also can read the news.  So what has changed in Texas classrooms (and in other classrooms around the country) over the last three years that could account for the 27% increase in investigations of inappropriate student-teacher relationships? 

Please read  “27% Increase in Texas Teacher-Student Sexual Misconduct Cases” by Merrill Hope.

First of all, the 27% increase in three years is based upon investigations – not necessarily proven cases of wrong doing by teachers.  As the respect between students for their teachers diminishes, it is no surprise that the number of false accusations by students increases.

However, a large number of these accusations have been investigated and proven to be true which should alarm all of us.

I believe what has changed in the last three years is the inundation of Texas classrooms with techie devices and with the accompanying constructivist, project-based, group-think activities found in such curricula as CSCOPE and Common Core. 

Texas classrooms, along with those across the country, no longer make a distinction between the authority figure (the teacher – now referred to as the “facilitator”) and the students (now supposed to “discover” the answers by using the Internet and group-think to become social activists).

This is more popularly referred to as, “The inmates are running the asylum.”

When those roles between the authority figure and the student become blurred, then the accompanying and appropriate rules of behavior also become blurred.  The respect students are supposed to have for their teachers becomes blurred.

When students can contact their teachers and vice versa 24/7 on those techie devices, sharing very personal information unbeknown to the students’ parents, those relationships become blurred.

When the techie devices have audio and video which can be shared 24/7, the relationships become blurred.

When teachers are no longer allowed to configure their classrooms where each class begins with the teacher at the front of the room (i.e., authority figure) and the students are sitting in straight rows ready to listen to the teacher’s instructions, the relationships become blurred.

When classrooms are so crowded with distractions on every square inch of walls and ceilings and the facilitator is sitting at the back of the room, the relationships become blurred.  “Who is in charge?”  Who can even find the teacher in such a stimuli-filled classroom?

When students can access every conceivable act of violence, imagery, savagery, and indecency on those techie devices 24/7, the relationships become blurred as children lose their protective naiveté.

When the classroom configuration of sitting in clusters, pods, and grouped around tables puts students and teachers in very close proximity to one another, the relationships become blurred.

Parents can no longer track what students are being taught in school because of the lack of textbooks and the advent of digitized curriculum. A type of “shared society” can easily occur between teachers and their students as parents are cut out of the loop. Instead of children looking to their parents for advice, they turn to their teachers who seem punk and hip because of the shared society on the digitized devices.

When perverse and sexualized texts with explicit and vile language are now being read and shared openly in classrooms instead of the time-honored classics that build character, the relationships become blurred.

When teachers do not exhibit a high sense of moral values in class discussions and in the type of instructional materials used, the relationships become blurred.

Children are not “little adults.”  However, they are being thrown into issues and problematic events that strip away their innocence.  Thus, young girls and young boys dress much older than they really are, and the mode of dress among students and teachers has deteriorated. Sexualized clothing along with sexualized behavior have become commonplace in school settings, and the secure distance between teacher and student is narrowed.

Schools do represent a piece of society. Schools are a small city unto themselves. As society has become more crass, the same environment is impacting the school environment.  As nothing is considered sacred in society anymore and every personal detail is portrayed openly, that same atmosphere is occurring in schools.  It is no wonder that relationships between teacher and student have become blurred.

However, this can change. School classrooms can change their configuration. Teachers can once again become the authority figure in the classroom who once again has the right and the responsibility to direct the learning of the students. 

Teachers can once again start their classes by standing at the front of the room with students looking straight ahead for instructions.  After the class starts, then teachers can certainly direct the students to move into various configurations; but everyone in the classroom should know that the teacher is in charge – not the students.

Discipline policies can change that support teachers to assume their rightful role.

Students can once again be expected to read pieces of wholesome literature and history that elevate them to become better people.

Class discussions can be redirected to a higher plane with teachers setting the parameters of the discussion rather than the students taking charge.

The mode of dress for teachers and students can be raised to a more modest standard.Respect among teachers and students can be increased if all concerned will dress and act their age rather than patterning themselves after the latest diva or pop star. (Hint: There should be no place for cleavage in the classroom among female teachers who are working with hormone-energized teens.)Baseless jokes and disrespectful behavior can and should be eliminated from classrooms, including between teachers and students. When the focus in the classroom is placed on deep content knowledge, learning the lessons from the wisdom of the past, valuing each moment of class time for the acquisition of academic skills/knowledge, developing personal responsibility and self-discipline, and strengthening a person’s work ethic VERSUS an unsatiated thirst for entertainment by techie device, the role of teacher and student will become more clearly defined.

As these changes are implemented, I believe the number of inappropriate behaviors between teachers and students will decrease.

Donna Garner