In a recent article, Allentown School District teachers president discusses school violence, Allentown Public School Education Association President Debra Tretter chastised the local school board for not providing teachers with the same support as the local police during teacher student fights. The local police were responding to a recent student brawl that resulted in a school lockdown and the arrest of two students. Allentown Public Schools can only eliminate the dangers that some teachers may face by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships.

What student beliefs and perceptions will cause teacher student fights in Allentown Public Schools?

Student perceptions and feelings regarding teachers and themselves influence student achievement and behavior. Students do better in school when they believe getting a good education will increase their chances for success. Black and Latino urban high school students believe their underachievement results when they perceive racism and discrimination toward them. High school Latino students believe school is confusing and punishing, which results in their failure at school. Black adolescents believe school is a hostile place and teachers are oppression agents. In their eyes of many Black and Hispanic students, White teachers symbolize the racism historically underserved students have endured throughout their entire lives.

Black and Hispanic students have developed teacher beliefs that can affect the development of positive teacher-student racial relationships. For example, Black first graders believe interactive teacher-student relationships are the most important factor in school. Black sixth graders believe teachers who think well of them are characterized as democratic, responsive, understanding, kind, adaptable, fair, and optimistic. Compared to Hispanic students, Black students perceive that their teachers are more enthusiastic, give more appropriate feedback, pace the class more appropriately, and are more task-oriented. Latino students believe teachers are racist because teachers consistently underestimate the students’ competence and intelligence. Culture conflict for Mexican American children results from requiring language and informational processing style abandonment. Exhorting Hispanics to relinquish their values, language, and lifestyles and accept lifestyles that are foreign to them are acceptable practices according to American society.

How can teacher discrimination contribute to teacher student fights in the Allentown Public School?

Teachers discriminate against students by implementing differential discipline. Teachers with high percentages of Black students in their classroom are more likely to use an authoritarian classroom management approach. Teachers react to Black student learning experiences that are in opposition to traditional public schools by determining Blacks are incapable of following simple rules and therefore make rules that they deem intolerable. Teacher justify this belief with the though process that these students want to be disciplined in have some order in their lives. Teachers will spend more time looking for possible misbehavior by Black students, especially males, and are more prone to respond to Black student behavior by using severe punishments that include corporal punishment and suspensions. The differences between the teachers’ backgrounds that teach them to conform to preset externally fabricated rules and regulations and Black street culture tendencies to derive order as a situation happens cause teachers to resort to punishment for petty rules in order to force obedience at the expense of hindering learning. Blacks believe middle-class teachers are vulnerable and ignorant regarding Black life, which leaves the teachers at a disadvantage because Black students choose the battlefield, strategy, and weapons, which are words, and they possess a skill that enables them to remain cool in these confrontational situations.

Students frequently test the limitations in an inconsistent classroom by ignoring a teacher’s first, second, and even third request for compliance; when the teacher decides to deliver a consequence, the student claims the teacher is unfair because the same misbehavior does not always receive the same consequence. White teachers are correct in thinking that their Black students are hostile, resent the teacher’s authority, quick to anger, and have chips on their shoulders. Black students react to arbitrary and autocratic White teacher disciplinary assertiveness by believing that a White man is still trying to tell him what to do. Most teachers respond to students who attempt to act tough with them by threatening or talking back to the student. Removing hostile Black students from the classroom only delays the inevitable confrontation between the teacher and the student.

How can Allentown Public School teachers eliminate teacher student fights?

Positive relationships at schools and in the classroom are in many ways the prerequisites for effective learning and behavior. Students and teachers who are warm, compassionate, and friendly toward one another in the classroom have the potential to improve instruction, learning and behavior.

A few keys to positive relationships with students are:

  • Checking student knowledge by asking students what they already know
  • Providing students time to explore and discover
  • Celebrating student accomplishments
  • Respecting students, which includes expecting students to have wisdom
  • Exploring how they view things and discussing those differences

Allentown Public School teachers can only eliminate teacher student fights by promoting positive racial teacher student classroom relationships.

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Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.

PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012

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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology

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“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.

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~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President

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