Thursday, May 26, 2011

On The End of School and Classroom Discipline Measures

First day of summer vacation and I woke up at 7:30.  That's about three hours earlier than I planned.  But, it's two hours later than usual, so I guess it's okay.

I'm anxious to get rested up and return to regular blogging here.  As I get older I find it takes me longer to recover from the school year than it did when I was young and just out of the gate.  It will take me about a week to decompress and finally start to relax.  I will probably still check my school email four or five times a day for the next several days.

This year was harder than most on most of us at school for various reasons.  I want to post about it but I'd have to hold back so much information that it would be pointless, so I'll just stay quiet.  I'll just say that it was a variety of factors that made this year so difficult and the biggest problem, when you boil it all down, comes from people in Baton Rouge, or Washington even, who have never been in a classroom as a teacher trying to dictate how things should be run.  Some things should be left to the school level and to the principal who was hired to make those kind of determinations.

I'll give you one brief example so you know what I mean.  This year Louisiana schools went to a major/minor referral system.  It's all part of the new Positive Behavior Reinforcement program where you reward a kid for doing the right thing so he'll continue to do the right thing.  One of the intents of this system is to keep discipline referrals down and keep kids in class rather than suspended for things like uniform violations or classroom disruptions.

With the minor referral system, a student gets three minor referrals before he is written up on a major referral.  A minor referral requires no trip to the office, no contact with an administrator and no disciplinary action.  It's a slap on the wrist that says "Don't do it again and I'm going to warn you two more times."

So.  A student comes to class out of dress code three times before he gets action from the office.  Or he can sit in class and eat Hot Cheetos and drink a soda, in violation of your class rules, three times before anything happens.  Or any combination of these.  So on any minor referral it might be the same offense 3x or it might be two uniform issues and one time when he was disrupting class by talking to his friends instead of listening to you.

On the fourth minor, he gets a major and goes to the office.

Then the process starts all over again.  Three more minors.

The major referral process still stands for things like fighting or cussing out a teacher.

But you can see the potential for manipulating the system.  And from a student's point of view, there aren't any consequences for his bad behavior or disregard for the rules for quite some time.  When you have thirty kids in a class and you have to stop class to write up five minor referrals for no ID, two minor referrals for eating in class, one for that kid who is more interested in talking or sleeping rather than listening to the lesson, you can see the chaos that ensues.

Part of the PBS (positive behavior system) idea is that if you reward the student for NOT talking in class or for wearing his ID with an incentive (like school dollars he can spend in the school store on things like chips and candy that he can't eat in class) then he'll be more inclined to do the right thing.

This is what happens when liberals get too involved in education and in the operation of schools at building level.

Most kids are going to do the right thing and follow the rules simply because it's the right thing.

Anyway, this is just one of the things that has made this year such a challenge.  But, I'm not going to think about all that for 70 days. For the next 70 days I'm going to rejuvenate and enjoy my family and myself.  I'm going to read, poke in antique stores, visit Milly Rose often, work in the yard and  play with my dogs.  Steve and I will take day trips and I will blog my silly head off once again.  Tomorrow we are going back to Coushatta to pick up the china cabinet Steve bought for me which means today I have to empty a bookshelf and move it so I'll have room.  I have to wash my glassware that's going in to it and wash and press some antique linen that will go on the shelves.

I'll begin my decompression and recovery process and be right as rain in a day or two.


MikeAT said...


Enjoy your recovery look forwarding forward to reading more on you blog

Donald Douglas said...

This is the first summer, in 11 years at Long Beach City College, in which I'm not teaching summer school.

I have about 70 or so days off as well.

Hope you have a good summer. Enjoy.