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***U. of Portland student teachers see MORE "disruptive behaviors"; 'Do I really want to teach?'

Updated: Apr 20, 2019

***Mar 31, 2019, UP students witness Oregon's crisis of disruptive learning UP education major Jane* began the school year with high hopes of making new friends, exploring the city of Portland and beginning her field experience at a local school. Jane had always wanted to be a teacher and she couldn’t wait to experience helping out in an actual elementary school class.  But the classroom behavior wasn’t what she expected. In her first few weeks at this elementary school, she saw one student rip posters off the wall and another student punch his teacher.  “I looked at these kids and thought, ‘What have I gotten myself into? Do I really want to teach?’” Jane said.  What Jane witnessed is not all that unusual, according to a new report by the Oregon Education Association (OEA) detailing the growing extreme student behavior seen throughout Oregon schools. UP’s School of Education students who are in these classrooms have witnessed instances of children becoming disruptive or physically aggressive, which can sometimes lead them to ask if teaching is the correct career path for them.  The OEA report states that Oregon is undergoing “A Crisis of Disrupted Learning.” Disrupted learning occurs when a student’s poor behavior affects how other students are behaving as well as the teacher’s ability to control the classroom and maintain a safe and focused learning environment.  Behavior like this used to be less frequent. But over the last three years, OEA members are sharing more and more of these disruptive instances in Oregon classrooms.  “Educators have reported a noticeable increase in disrupted learning environments across the state over the last several years,” according to the OEA. “This increase, however, is difficult to quantify.” … The report cites overcrowded classrooms, student trauma, poorly trained teachers, lack of resources and a decrease in time for P.E. or play for the children as the main reasons for this increase of poor behavior from students across Oregon. … Another UP student, Jake*, is not an education major but works part-time at a local elementary school. He once was asked to help a kindergartner finish his math assignment, but the student was chewing on the workbook pages instead of completing them. When Jake asked the little boy to stop, he spit in Jake’s face. … Some faculty of the education department are concerned that the report, and the publicity it has gotten, may not give adequate attention to the personal trauma some of these disruptive behaviors stem from. … “I don’t think of it from a crisis standpoint,” said education professor Hillary Merk. “I think of it from a more solution standpoint. Kids are facing way more trauma than students from when I taught. If we just call it a crisis I feel like that’s unfair to the student, unfair to the teacher, unfair to the families.”  The report addresses both student and teacher anxiety and trauma. More and more children come to school with the burden of issues at home, learning disabilities or mental health issues. These issues can cause stress on the teachers as they try to also to tend to the other students’ needs as well.  “Many educators also note that more students are coming to school with substantial social and emotional needs, physical health needs and mental health challenges,” the OEA report says. … Fifty-six percent of the surveyed participants for the report said their classroom or their child’s classroom had undergone at least one room clear this school year. Room clears are a procedure in which students must exit their classroom due to extreme or dangerous behaviors exhibited by one student that could potentially harm the other students. …


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