- Boundary Markers: An Alternative to Classroom Management - March 10, 2016
- International Mother Language Day-February 21st - February 25, 2016
- "Dear Future Me..."A Great Reflection Assignment for Students - February 1, 2016
- Thank You In Advance: The Power of Expectation - January 15, 2016
- Under the Guise of Inclusion - November 20, 2015
- Therapy Dogs and Schools - October 15, 2015
- SUPERPOWER Schools - October 13, 2015
- When Life Happens While You Teach - September 22, 2015
- "I'm Her Favorite Student!" - August 31, 2015
- Good Writing vs. Great Writing: Leading the Way - April 27, 2015
We've probably all seen those t-shirts or bumper stickers that read, "You can't scare me, I'm a .....mother/ school nurse/ correctional officer...well in this case, you may want to insert the word "teacher." Why? The premise to the captivating statement implies that we've seen it all, so there's just no way you can scare us with anything! As educators we've bandaged cuts, mended friendships, and taught proficiently...but we've also faced unhappy parents, unruly schedules and caught a student in a lie a time or two. Ah: the lie... How many times a week is a teacher beset with "non-truths" from students? Probably more than one would care to admit, but it made me wonder if there was actually a scientific way to tell if a student were being "less than truthful" in the hallways and/or the classroom and what exactly do you do with a student caught in a lie?
Teachers face a barrage of "non-truth-tellers" in the lifetime of their career, but is there a way to tell if a student is lying? I myself have wondered at times if I could put a polygraph machine to shame in my "lie-telling abilities." But I've also been horribly wrong about a student that I thought was not telling the truth and happily apologized. According to the FBI, there are actually very real tell-tale signs to spotting an untruthful person and here are a few:
- Pause or delay in answering a question
- Throat clearing or swallowing
- Hand to face activity
- Avoiding eye contact
- Overly defensive
- Inconsistencies in their story
- Too many details to their story
(Now that you're an expert in the above give-a-ways, just know that just a person doing any or all of the above may also be telling the truth...maybe they just have an itchy nose, after all...I guess you have to be Perry Mason to know for sure.)
Most of the time when we face non-truth-tellers, it is not a crucial situation, but we all know that there are times when lessons need to be learned and children's livelihoods are in jeopardy. When faced with the possibility of a lie, there are many things we can do as educators:
- Never call a student a liar. It is our job as educators to assess problems and work towards solving them, not place labels upon a student.
- Assess the situation. Ask yourself if this is a battle worth fighting or something that can be solved without "getting to the bottom of it." Many times when it comes down to two students battling it out on the playground, there may be ways of creating a solution without the need of truly finding out who got in line first. Other times, a student may let it be known that someone truly has become a victim of bullying and the truth must indeed be sought.
- Find out why the student is lying. Could it be that they are trying to save face, be popular, hide something embarrassing? Perhaps they are afraid of getting in trouble at home or they're trying to protect a friend. The reason a student lies may be just as important as the lie itself.
- Assess if parents or administration should be involved. Remember that you're not alone in your profession. If necessary, elicit help from other professionals and people that may need to be notified.
- Don't take it personally. There is a type of reward a student receives if they can get away with a lie. It's not about you, it's about whatever they are facing at the moment. We can always hope a student will be honest with us, but if they're not, don't give up. Keep trying to build a positive relationship with the student and let them know that you are there to help.
As a teacher, you probably feel like you've seen it all, from cheating on a test to attempting to hide family abuse at home; Just know that there are many ways of dealing with a possible untruthful situation and that you have a support system in place to help you. After all, being lied to by a student is practically part of the job description, but it's ok, you can handle it...they can't scare you, you're a teacher!