I Hate My Students

In teachers’ college, I read an article about the idea of hate in the classroom and teachers hating their students. When I read it back then, I thought it was straight blasphemy. How could I hate my students? But then I started teaching.

Let me preface this entire blog by stating that I do not hate any students. My best friend in fourth grade told me never to hate anyone because in the bible that meant a really bad thing. That sentiment kind of stuck with me throughout life. Seriously. But right about this time in the school year, when you drive to work in the dark and leave the building at the end of the day only to see that same darkness, one can’t help but feel a little bit disheartened. You know the whole idea of “the light at the end of the tunnel”? Yeah, this time of year feels like being smack in the middle of that passageway.

And when that feeling hits, teachers naturally become short-sighted. Concerns over behavior take absolute precedence over the true objectives of education. Small disruptions become magnified; the classroom risks slipping into tit for tat disagreements about everything. Complacency rules the day – for students and teachers alike.

So what do you do when your students have lost the zest for lining up after recess? Is it their fault or yours? The few times throughout the winter when you come to get your students and quickly hail them inside because it is too cold for you to stand out there and ensure that they are properly lined up gradually results in a nonchalant attitude towards the whole line up process…

I am writing about students lining up after recess…

I am complaining about the fact that students, a few months into school, don’t line up properly after recess…

Lining up after recess…

Lining up after recess?

The exhaustion is quite clear at this point in the school year. This time of year demands some strong lesson plans and a lot of quality rest at night. Lining up, following the rules and guidelines of the school, and acting according to the school culture are all important things for the success of students. But student success, and not ultimate compliance is our job. Point blank, end of discussion. I cannot afford to let a disagreement over compliance overshadow the essential learning that must take place inside my classroom. I can’t hate a student for the things he or she does that are besides the learning, investigating, and growing that my ten-year-old students are consciously or subconsciously doing day in and day out.

I didn’t sign up to become an educator to bicker over students not lining up or other trivial instances that inevitably occur on a class-wide level or individual circumstance. I am prepared to catch flack over my belief that “kids will be kids”. Most of the time, if we are honest with ourselves, the reason why students “behave” the way they do has more to do with our practice than their psychology. And if it doesn’t, if it doesn’t have anything to do with the way I teach, then what does that say about that child? If a child is “unreachable”, that says more about the damage or incongruences that child is experiencing than it does about his or her “disrespect” towards me, authority, school, or anything else.

In that case, we ought to look at ways to be patient and continue the effort to reach that child. We must help that student instead of hating that student.


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Matthew R. Morris

Educator, Speaker, Writer

Matthew R. Morris is a writer, speaker, and elementary educator in Toronto. He has an M.A. in Social Justice Education from OISE at the University of Toronto and is the author of the forthcoming book, Black Boys Like Me. 

Matthew R. Morris

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