heckler, bully student, in his 30s, hates his teacher (me)

For general discussion between ESL teachers.

Moderator: Susan

Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:50 pm
Status: New Teacher

heckler, bully student, in his 30s, hates his teacher (me)

Unread post by peachie » Wed Mar 16, 2011 8:14 pm

What is some advice or experience from others about bully students? I have one in particular who thinks everything is about him. When he's on his phone, I simply tell him no phones in class. The minute I turn my head, the phone is back. I tell him maybe 5 times a day no phones, and I know he understands, but does not respect me. This week he stood up and yelled at me, "you don't tell anyone 'no phones' but me!" Which is simply not true. I know for a fact I've told other students to put away their phones, but those students actually listen to me. I have to tell him several times, so he thinks I'm picking on him. He demands that I mark him on time and present when he's missed over 2 weeks of class, which is beyond my control, but he insists I do something about that. He never does homework and gets very upset and confused in class when we're discussing it. He tells me he didn't do homework because he couldn't understand it, every day. Even though the students meet together and study together outside of class and all but him have had it done, and remember he was WITH THEM. I know he is lying to me. He is trying to control me. He does not respect me. And he even told the students he hates me. I don't know what to do. I know it's not my job to be liked, but I can't believe my students can't see how hard I work for them and how much I care about them. You'd think they'd appreciate it and show some respect when I'm doing my job responsibly.

I wrote a report to my boss and co-workers about specific situations and today I asked them to come into my class because this student was making everyone uncomfortable and causing a scene with his loud voice. My co-worker listened to his complaints and the student overtly lied that I wrote him absent when he was present, marks him late when he's on time (I mark him late when he comes in 15 minutes or later passed starting time), and only tell him not to use his phone. She doesn't know about his presence, because she was on vacation. Why on Earth would I have the sadistic motivation to mark someone absent when they are actually here? He convinced her that I hated him, which is also absurd. He and I have always been joking and laughing before this week.

Whether or not he has a mental condition is not even my concern. I'm begging all readers and teachers for some help. I just don't know what to do.

If this helps, some info on us: He is Saudi Arabian, which means he is Muslim and has different viwes on women in authority, but I don't see that overtly so I don't believe he is sexist. He has studied English in Arkansas with his wife. He is in America on her student visa. She is taking academic classes, but he placed in the lowest ESL level 3 months ago. He didn't like that school, so they switched to this one in Michigan. He is about 30 years old, married but no kids. Huge build, very dark skin.
I am a very young teacher. I just graduated from grad school last year and got this job months afterward. This is my second semester teaching, but my first time teaching students with such low English abilities (when we started, they only knew the alphabet and numbers). Our days always consist of games and fun through practicing language. We don't have books, I create everything we do, and teach the basics (adjectives, verbs, sentence structure). I am tall, slightly overweight white American female from Michigan...what my students don't know is I also have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder. I have been seeking treatment for 5 years, so no condition is prevalent. However the way I think is very disoriented. But on the outside people find me to be humorous, pretty, and witty.

Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:10 am
Status: Teacher

Re: heckler, bully student, in his 30s, hates his teacher (m

Unread post by amma » Wed Apr 06, 2011 11:43 am

This might be a bit old to be responding to now but I'll try as noone else has responded. I think the biggest issue is most likely your age. Gender will be, too with a Saudi student, but generally older women who are teachers are more accepted in terms of having authority.

Saudis tend to feel they need to always be available to their families and this is more of a cultural issue than a religious difference. Will you have him in your class for a long time to come? It's likely he resents being put in a lower class especially as his wife is doing academic English! How about asking someone supportive to come in and observe your class (not just turn up when he's making a scene)? It might be helpful to get feedback. It sounds like he's the main problem in class and unfortunately there's now bad feeling. I've had problems with phones in class, too. Most teachers do! You could try asking him if he could go outside when using the phone and go and open the door (and wait) when he gets it out again! He might spend quite a long time outside the classroom talking but that's his problem. Humour works quite well with Saudis but it might be too hard to (re)establish that now. It'd be good if some older (higher ranking) Saudi guy could be enlisted to talk to him if that's a possibility. Failing that, I'd try asking him to remain behind and then ask him in a neutral way why he uses his phone all the time. Does he not want to learn English? Good luck with this.

Post Reply