You have bad days at work. Days that you screwed up and the boss or client comes down hard on you. Screw up consistently and your job will be on the line. So how many times in a day could you screw up before consequences followed? Would your boss come to you after the first two? If two more followed, where would you be? How about three or four after that? Do you think you’d make it to twelve mistakes in a day before you were sent packing, sent home, or fired? Probably not. If you returned, do you think the slate would be wiped clean, ready for another 12 incidences? What effect would this have on your co-workers, on moral, on the bottom line? As you contemplate this, consider that this is the reality of the discipline system in my wife’s school. A child must screw up 12 times before they can be sent out of the classroom. 12 times. 12!
The district or school (not clear who) mandates use of the following discipline system. After 3 incidences, the offending child is moved to the first tier. An incident can be anything short of physical contact with the teacher or other students: disruptions, distraction, disobedience, etc. A child screaming at the teacher would only be a single incident. The same child could then knock over a chair for number two. Finally, if the child ignores the teacher’s request, then we are onto the first tier of discipline requiring a formal warning. That’s it. Awesome.
Within the first tier, the child could act out 3 additional times, and on the 6th offense, be moved to the next tier, with another formal warning and modification like moving seats. Again, that’s it. After another 3 disruptions, the 9th time results in real action. The child gets a formal warning (very effective to this point), a time-out, and a form to detail their transgression. By the way, the time-out cannot last longer than 5 minutes and no discussion is required for the form. After reinstatement, the child has 3 more opportunities to act out. . Finally, and mercifully, on the 12th disruption, the child can be sent to a cool down, essentially in-school suspension for 15, 30, or 60 minuts. There the child can “cool down”, have no teacher instruction, and most importantly, not disrupt the classroom any longer. Hooray. After 12 disruptions, the child can finally be removed and the class can go on.
However, after the allotted time, the child can be returned to the classroom. In theory, the system starts over for with 12 new incidents required to send them out again. I also failed to mention that the teacher must document each incident for the record. So every time the child acts out, the teacher must find the time to document the offense, you know, while the child is still acting out. In addition, if sent for 30 or 60 minutes, the teacher must also send accompanying work, thus again stopping instruction of the bulk of class. Yeah, I know, it is absurd.
In my wife’s school and classroom, this system is a model for disaster. Sure, most of the children don’t approach even the first tier, but several students push the system to the limits, every day. They realize that they won’t be punished until the 9th time they act out, and then for no longer than 5 minutes. They can do what they want (outside of attacking other students or the teacher) without much more than a warning until the 12th time they act out. What kind of environment does this create?
Sure, it is not fair to the teacher; they lack authority in their own classroom. They are not allowed to dictate restrictions, limited by a one size fits none system. It is not fair to the behaving kids who lose time and attention; they don’t deserve less because they behave. But it is also not fair to the misbehaving students either. Are these kids acting out for the attention they don’t receive from home? Are they testing their limits, and finding not much resistance? Perhaps they don’t know any other way to get attention. How does a system like this help them going forward into the real world. In a job situation, they would surely be fired. Nobody wins and the district won’t allow teachers to employ a system that might work for their kids. Sadly, the administration doesn’t trust its teachers to develop or modify a discipline plan to the needs of the classroom. If it works for one model classroom, it will work for all of them. And if it doesn’t, well, that’s the teachers fault. Sad. #KCK