Teacher Deviant Communication and Behavior

Teacher Deviant Communication and Behavior

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2779-4.ch001
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Teachers occupy a powerful and influential position in the classroom. This power can be used effectively to inspire student learning, or it can be misused and abused, resulting in a non-supportive, tense, and unpleasant learning environment. Because teachers are not beyond violating their classroom power, this chapter considers teacher-initiated deviance by synthesizing and reflecting on the myriad of characteristics that encompass teachers misbehaving when interacting with students. Some topics that dominate the literature include misbehaviors, bullying, norm violations, compulsive communication, verbal aggression, swearing, anger, biases, classroom management, and cultural insensitivity. This chapter not only defines and explains some of the many ways teachers engage in deviant communication and behavior in the classroom, but it also addresses how the deviance is menacing to the teacher-student relationship and can serve as a catalyst for student misconduct.
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The teacher is considered the leader of the class, and an assumption of power comes with that position. It is arguable that teachers possess all fives bases of power identified by French and Raven (1960). Reward power concerns having control over some valued resource; with teachers, the resource could be grades. Coercive power refers to the ability to inflict punishments, and teachers can punish students with failing grades, detention, or perhaps even school expulsion. Third, is expert power, which is based on a person’s knowledge and competence. Teachers spend years educating themselves as students and researchers so that they may, in turn, pass that knowledge on to students. Legitimate power is based on formal rank or position, and is exercised when students use courtesy titles to refer to teachers (e.g., Dr., Mr., Ms.). These titles denote the power and respect that accompany the teaching position. Lastly, referent power, is demonstrated when the one being influenced wants to be like the influencer. When teachers mentor students or simply inspire students to want to teach, write, speak, or have any other characteristic like them, referent power is evident. French and Raven’s (1960) seminal work on the five bases of power clearly illustrates the varied power types teachers have. The question now concerns how teachers use their power when interacting with students.

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