Oh that awkward moment when you realize you have to discipline a child in front of their mother!
What could be more delightful? …pulling teeth…stubbing your toe…food poisoning…
As I am a volunteer English teacher to ESL students of different ages (mostly kids) – some who are mother/children, some who are siblings, and all of whom are at different levels of language competency, I have found that the most difficult thing is establishing positive discipline and mutual respect within the classroom.
Perhaps it is because the classes do not go towards school credit and/or I am not a “real” teacher. But one thing is certain – I have quickly learned that in this classroom setting, personal relationship hierarchy goes out the door, and for an hour and a half every Friday evening, everyone is my responsibility whether or not they happen to be parents, children, strangers, or neighbors. Mothers of disruptive and/or disrespectful children passively leave it to me to be the disciplinarian, as they take on the silent role of the student.
The question at hand then becomes: How does one discipline a child in front of a passive parent?
Will the child obey me if they see that their parent is non-responsive to their misbehavior?
This is something that I am struggling with at the moment. I realize that I need to implement classroom rules and consequences, but it is much different in theory than in practice. It is especially more so when the children see that their usual disciplinarians are not taking action when action is due, as this sends the signal that their behavior is acceptable, which then nullifies or trivializes my role.
I suppose I will take this challenge as a social experiment, and as my mother says, practice for when I become a family therapist (or parent) one day. If I have learned anything thus far, it is that manners and discipline ought to start at home, for they are the fundamental building blocks to a person’s attentiveness and potential success in life.