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LEA's need to be consistent in their policies, and the enforcement of
discipline. Also, I have noticed that Adminstrators set the tone for
discipline from the very first day of school. No human-being should be
allowed to hold an Administrator Position if they are spine-less
jelly-fish when it comes to dealing with any parent. Teachers are limited in what they can do in a school where there is NO displine! I could write a book on this...
Parents have been given the open door to our schools. While I do applaud parental invovlement, part of that is the core of why students misbehave. How so??
Firstly children reflect their parents actions, therefore if the parents are disrespectful the children will follow.
Second, if the child does wrong and Admin makes a call to home about it, most of the time the parent feels that the Admin is being unjust to their child and the student gets off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
Thirdly, Administration has no desire to deal with the parents being annoyed therefore they allow the students to do whatever they want to do, to such a degree that they themselves allow students to call them by thier first name.
We teach by design. Administration is scared or too lazy to deal with the parents so the kids get away with everything.
Wake up call to Admin in our schools, DO YOUR JOBS and support the teachers and stop having youre tail between your legs with the parents.
I'm a special education teacher in a K-12 school in a small, rural community. The elementary teachers, with support from administration, have effectively implemented the Responsive Classroom program, which goes a long way toward eliminating negative behaviors. Problems tend to occur at the administrative level. Although the superintendent and principal theoretically support RC, they often decline to use the strategies recommended when issues go beyond what can be handled in the classroom. This undermines the teachers who need backup, as well as the system as a whole.
When students from 7th through 12th grades end up in the office, the principal often "wings" a response rather than following the handbook. The handbook is updated every year, with input from staff and students, but for a variety of reasons, he has found it more convenient to make up responses to issues as he goes along. It's maddening when there are good systems in place and they are undermined from the "top."
I will have to say that the school I currently teach in seems to have a handle on students who are disruptive. There is absolute administrative support which I have found to be rare in South Georgia. Students are punished for inapropriate behavior. Sometimes it is a time-out or in-school suspension as well as out-of-school suspension. However, and I know this will be a hard pill for some folks to swallow, the largest deterrent has been corporal punishment which must have parental approval. Students are also rewarded for appropriate behavior. We have dances, popcorn movies, etc. Our school participates in Josten's Reanaissance which rewards both academic as well as behavior success for students. We are a PreK-5 school with over 900 students, and I will say I this school has one of the most positive environments I have taught in since I began teaching in 1976.
Students misbehave because they have been social promoted through so many grades without mastering grade-level standards that they are unable to connect with the curricula they are presently being taught, which presupposes such mastery.
That being the case, they misbehave because education at a level where they are objectively incapable of engagement is humiliating, since they were never taught the Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP) necessary to be successfully engaged in school.
To punish students under these circumstances is to blame the victim.
I think it's still got a long way to go. One problem is coming up with an effective consequence that is related to whatever poor choice was made.
Lately it seems like everyone says "you'll do laps during recess" but really, all that does is make physical activity a punishment.
Our staff is reading the Love and Logic book as a summer project. I do like the idea that the student comes up with a consequence. Takes some pressure off. I guess how well it will work on our campus remains to be seen.
Our district has a lengthy student handbook which outlines the more serious student misbehaviors and assigns a consequence for each offense, getting more severe for repeated offenses. Each year the teachers have to go through this handbook with the students and explain common misbehaviors in every day language to help the students recognize the consequences of their actions ("When the rule says no discriminating language, that means you can't say an activity is 'gay'").
It looks fine on paper, but when we actually refer a student to the administration for violating a guideline, the handbook is rarely followed. For something that has legal ramifications like fighting or truancy, the students usually get the predetermined consequences. However, when it comes to other infractions, especially those that fall under "disruptive classroom behavior," little is done. When we ask the administration about this, they tell us that in order to maintain the middle school climate, they want to make sure the students get a second chance and don't want to be too punitive. Really? Who came up with the consequences listed in the handbook? Why have the staff go over those consequences with students if they are not going to be enforced? It makes us all weaker.
It's not like the staff is sending students out of their rooms every day for little things. We all try to prevent misbehavior by planning engaging, active lessons, and usually we deal with misbehaviors in our classroom--it's more immediate and more effective. But sometimes, when the same kid is running around the room or talking back to the teacher or refusing to follow directions or yelling across the class, he has to go, at least for the sake of the other students who are trying to learn. Basically, when we send a child to the office, he has had more than a second chance already, and now needs another level of discipline.
I understand that it is very difficult to be the person in charge of dealing with discipline issues for an entire school, but that's what admins signed up for when they took the job. If they don't like the district-approved consequences, they should work to get them changed so we can have some semblance of consistency and support as a staff.