Thursday, October 10, 2013

Drawing a Line

In over five years of teaching, I can count on one hand the times I sent a student to the office. I typically like to deal with problems in my own classroom. The office is the final resort after lots of other strategies.

I sent one girl to the office for biting another student. She was an 8th grader. My response was, "I never thought I'd have to deal with students biting each other in junior high school." Turns out I was wrong. Most junoir high kids are like elementary kids; they're just bigger and can be a little mouthier.

If a student is over-the-top disrespectful, I'll send them out in the hall to cool off and then have a long talk with them before I notify their parents later the same day. I had to throw a girl out of my class the second day of school during my first year of teaching. She was arguing with me in front of the whole class, being totally disrespectful so I threw her out. It was a rude shock to be spoken to like that. And the thought did cross my mind that i don't get paid near enough . . .  We had trouble with that girl all year long. She was suspended over and over again for various reasons. And she was finally expelled the last week of school.

This year, I had to kick a kid out of my class during the first week of school. He was totally out of control, disrespectful, so I asked him to leave. I talked at him for quite awhile out in the hall. He wouldn't make eye contact or respond to me at all. I thought I was going to have a very long year with this kid. But I have been pleasantly surprised. The kid has totally shaped up, gotten in control of himself and is polite and respectful. There are occasions when he bursts out loudly about something, but never any disrespect. Never anything like that first week when I threw him out.

So sometimes, throwing a kid out once, drawing a line in the sand is all it takes to get them to come around. But no two kids are alike, just like no two days are the same while your teaching. There are no proven formulas on what will make a student behave and what won't.

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