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It has been my experience that those students who typically get suspended are those who WANT to be out of school. No, I don't feel suspension is the most effective method for addressing 'problem' kids, but publicly-funded schools are so limited in providing alternatives.
What can administrators do that can both give relief to her teachers and make a POSITIVE impact on the children? Counseling and other interventions are a must, but they just aren't enough in the short-term to provide relief for the teachers and students who are trying to succeed in the classroom.
Consequences for misbehavior must be immediate and have the potential for making a lasting impression on the student. However, our public education system is so wrought with bureaucracy and school leaders so fearful of litigation , administrators are hand-tied.
While suspension may serve a purpose for students who have involved parents and are embarrassed by such a thing happening to them, I think a good many, teenagers especially, do things in order to get suspended because school is not a place where they want to be anymore.
I think that if a student is suspended he or she should have a complete social work evaluation and also be thoroughly screened for learning disabilities and special needs. Not a lot of students with good grades are suspended. Many need to be in special education.
Further, in the case of low income students in particular, the child's life and health might be in danger if they cannot go to school. IN some cases, the only meals they get are the free breakfasts and lunches they have at school. At one school I worked in, which was populated mostly by public housing children, they would sneak back into the school and join their classes for lunch. In addition, in single parent homes where the parent works for low wages, mama cannot take off work to babysit and expect to keep her job.
ISS is a much better choice and should trigger the evaluations mentioned above. Instead of a punitive environment where the students are forced to sit quietly doing worksheets, ISS should be designed as an environment that helps students deal with what is bothering them and why they feel the need to misbehave. Then perhaps a caring administration can help and we will end up with fewer children who are rebellious or withdrawn and more who are getting help with learning disabilities.
A school with a lot of suspensions is also often a school with major problems. I once worked under a principal who suspended by the dozen---always poor achieving students---right before standardized test time and in the last month of the school year when the teachers were exhausted. When a school has either a high rate of suspension or high teacher attrition, the competence of the principal needs to be adressed.
Meanwhile, the issue of such programs as Saturday School and Detention School should be addressed by requiring parents to agree to their child doing manual labor while in the program. This would only be effective in schools where the parents have money. Poor children already clean house and it won't faze them and they often work to help support their family, while richer children work to buy luxuries for themselves. Labor means cleaning walls and scrubbing toilets. If the parents won't agree, then the parents should be required to attend school with the child for a specified length of time. This would get to the middle class parents with bratty children.
It isn't fair to students who follow the rules or their parents when students are allowed to be out of control in the classroom or hallways. It isn't about punishing them, removing them from the classroom allows the students who are there for an education to receive it without interruption.
Suspension is useless. It only reenforces their idea that school is against them. Lets remember who are the adults. The adults should be able to come up with ways to KEEP them in school using whatever tooks they can come up with to HELP the student STAY in school. Being suspended is not a learning experience. It only removes the problem for everyone except the student.
I have always believed that treating students with respect and as young adults (Jr High and High school) will get you started on the right foot. Part of this idea is to teach responsibility. When a student breaks the rules they must be held responsible. Fairly and across the board. Everyone is equall. Parents must be notified and be part of the situation. Parents must also be held accountable for the actions of their minor children. School administrators must support their staff in these matters. In most cases I do not believe that sending the student home for misbehavior benefits the student or the school. We must protect the safety of the students but not ignore the problem by simply sending sthe student home. Call in the parents or guardian and make them part of the solution. Don't give up. Sometimes the toughest cases bear the best results.
Suspension may work for students, and it makes life easier for the teacher when the disruptive student(s) are removed.
Does the student care? depends
Does the parent care? depends
Does a good spanking work? can't do that
As stated, both have pros and cons, as a principal in a technical center, all of my decisions are based on Safety.
Who do I need to make sure is safe? Students, Teachers, Staff?
Based on who I need to keep safe determines my path of restitution and or correction. The level of student learning and growth is what helps me guide my decisions as to how to handle each case.
Time away from teachers and peers is lost time and lost opportunity and the goal is to minimize this loss. I have seen too many students who eventually left the system when they felt they could not catch up.
I use to run two "alternative to suspension" centers which provided an isolated, but safe environment for students to work with certified staff to keep up with their studies through close communication with their teachers. Re-entry into the regular school day was much easier and successful when they were current with their work.
All I can say, is it must be addressed by individual circumstance and while it it is much harder to be creative with diciplinary options, students deserve our time and attention to finding the best answer that will insure they will learn and grow as a member of our communities.
Zero tolerance policies don't work, Their is ALWAYS and exception that needs to be considered.
I have always felt that conflict is an opportunity for us to grow and gather new insights and social skills. I teach it to my 3-4 year olds and cannot understand why we do not continue to use it in a deep way with older students. If a student has misbehaved we should find a way to engage that student in an assessment of what went wrong and what solutions may be most appropriate for both the student and the school. What we should strive for is a win-win solution. J Briffa.
You reach the wrong kids with suspension. Kids who care can be handled another way. Those who don't won't be affected by a suspension. There are more effective (creative) ways to reach both groups of kids. Suspension does make the problem go away for a little while, but it comes back (maybe). Is it worth it to take the chance?
Most of the time, I think that suspension is not an effective mode of disciple. Most of the time, other interventions, especially that involve problem solving and parents' support will be a more effective means of disciple. However, there are situations - serious threats to a student or faculty member, bringing a weapon into school, and behavior that has been ongoing with no positive change - that warrent suspension. Hopefully this would be a last step and would have as its goal to help the student or communicate to the rest of the school community that they will be safe and protected.