Monday, March 11, 2013

Slice 11: Make it Right

I have been at odds with discipline practices, especially in schools.  Self-discipline is the key to success in many arenas.  In my house, we make it right.  My daughter may or may not have seen the candy for Easter that my husband forgot to hide.  We awoke the next morning to discover the Easter Bunny had made it right.  My boss wants people to make it right when the adults mess up. Fess up and then tell her how you are going to fix it.  That is her practice.  Sadly, we don't allow kids to make it right when they mess up.  Instead, they are treated to punishment such as in-school suspensions or we send them home for out-of-school suspensions, thereby pushing them right out where they want to be, anywhere, but school.   Either way, they miss an opportunity to learn and they miss class, a class that they need.

When we send kids out of class, we make extraneous work for teachers. Teachers are asked to send work for students to do in ISS or OSS.  The work that we need to send must be assignments that kids can do without help, busy work to keep them quiet. Current classroom practices and research about the brain and learning have required teachers to engage students and abandon lectures and worksheets. With small group instruction and other work where collaboration is key, we are still employing a factory-model in our disciplinary methods.  If kids could do the work that we do in class by themselves, they wouldn't need their teachers.  What type of work do you send to a a kid who needs to be in your class? Work that they may or may not be able to do by themselves. Work that rarely is sent back to you to grade. Worksheets?  How can we better serve the academic needs of kids who are sent out of the classroom to make it right?

Some teachers develop work-arounds such as asking the students to leave ISS to attend their class.  Astute teachers avoid escalating situations in which students clearly want to get pushed out of class for behavior issues.  One student reported to a school board member that he acted out in class just to get sent out of class, clearly an engagement issue.  There is no better drama in high school than the potential for a fight.

What discipline solutions do you employ at your school?  How do you ensure the kids who potentially need instruction the most get it even though their behavior is out-of-bounds?  How can staff members work together  to make it right with our students both academically and behaviorally?


  1. I agree with you, it becomes a game sometimes. In our school, I feel some teacher just abdicate their responsibilities - they let things get out of hand and then it's "off to t he principal's office!" I don't think most suspensions are warranted, truth to tell.

  2. One of the reasons I'm so glad I work in elementary...but I have to say it happens in here too as sad as it is.

  3. This is a tough issue, especially because the root of the behavior is often exactly as you say- to get out of class. I agree that other avenues must be explored. I always come back to technology- what can teachers do to engage students to create learning/knowledge rather than avoid? There are no easy answers, of course, but it is worth examining our curriculum and teaching practices.

  4. Along the same lines: If students are late getting to school in general, but the next tardy they get (because they can technically get 7 tardies a day with our 7 period day) results in either ISS or OSS - why should the student even come to school if staying home doesn't result in a tardy consequence?

    I know that's not an answer to your question, but I figured I'd throw it out there. I had a discussion about this this evening as well and found it interesting that it's the topic of your post :).

  5. I had forgotten about ISS! We don't have it here, but obviously, we're in very small communities and we have other ways to handle big problems. I have to say, though, that I think the facts that it's not an option forces teachers to look for other ways to handle things. I rarely wrote referrals for kids. It had to be a serious problem. Just didn't seem to make things better (as you know).


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