DEAR ABBY: I am a high school teacher who has been encountering some problems with my students.
I admit my personality is rather bland. My favorite flavor of ice cream is vanilla; my favorite color is beige -- you get the picture. I am also aware that I speak in a monotone. My students won't let me hear the end of it.
I know I should enforce discipline, but I don't seem to have any control over my students. They blatantly ridicule my clothing and my voice. Sometimes I even feel bullied. I try to ignore it, but it doesn't seem to end. The entire class participates and finds it hilarious. What can I do to control my students? -- TRYING HARD IN TENNESSEE
DEAR TRYING HARD: The first thing to do is talk with the other educators in your school about your inability to enforce discipline. They may be able to offer some valuable suggestions. You should also explore whether the school district offers any classes in assertiveness training. If it doesn't, then please give serious consideration to changing careers, because you are not only shortchanging yourself but also the students you have allowed to turn you into a doormat.