I'm putting out a call for help from all who are willing to share their ideas.
A fellow teacher, "Jane," is trying to build relationships with her students, but is not having a lot of success. She teaches Algebra II, and the students do not like her class because it is hard. A few more details: Jane is a first year teacher, she is the only person who teaches it, all students must take the class, classes have extremely wide ranges of abilities and the school is focused on the problem based learning method. While my teacher has made connections with three of her four classes, one class is giving her (and other teachers) a run for their money.
Jane came to me (the only tenured teachers in our school) after school today in tears over this group of difficult students. When I asked what happened, she shared quite the story. Several of the students are very upset at the difficulty of the class and began sharing their thoughts about Jane as a teacher, her teaching abilities, and how "stupid the school" is. When Jane tried to quiet them, one girl began verbally attacking her. The worst part is that other students began cheering and encouraging the student's behavior. Jane managed to regain control and asked administration for help. This was the second time this particular girl openly yelled at Jane in class using profane language, a threatening tone, and extreme volume. Administration told Jane that the school counselor was working with the student. He then informed her that there would be no punishment for the student's actions.
Jane has tried talking to the student one on one, talking to her in a small group, calling home, meeting with the parent, and she's at a loss for what to do next. There are other students behaving similarly in other people's classrooms. The say things about how being written up is just a waste of the teacher's time because nothing is going to happen to them. Unfortunately, this has become the norm. Now, I have a new teacher desperately trying to build relationships in a situation where respect is only demanded one way, rude behavior must be tolerated, and administration blames her for the student behavior.
What things can Jane do in her classroom to try to make the situation better? I'm sure your help will help Jane, me, and all of the other teachers in our building. Thank you all in advance.