Monday, October 25, 2010

Should I Punish Students for Bad Behavior in Another Class?

My school has in-school suspension for students that behave inappropriately. I am not sure if it is because of not doing homework or because of what they have said or done. As the "computer" teacher I have never given any work for those students to complete, not much of a punishment if I let them use a computer in my opinion.

Today a teacher asked me if I ever sent any work for the student to do. When I replied I didn't she implied the student was "getting off" from doing the work in my class. My reply was that it would be hard for them to do the work in ISS when we are using the computers. I could figure out some make-work for them to do, but our administration is just as capable of that as me.

Thinking back over the exchange I have a different response. I really don't think I should punish a student by giving him/her make-work for improper behavior in someone else's class. What do you think?


Karyn Romeis said...

I have long been of the view that (other than parents) no-one should discipline (note that I don't use the word punish, it is a different concept) a child for disobeying someone else. Each person needs to take ownership of their own area of responsibility in respect of the children in their care. If you discipline child A because they are misbehaving in teacher B's class, you only serve to further undermine teacher B in the child's eyes, and cast yourself in the role of the heavy.

It's not a million miles from the following scenario:

I was sitting in a coffee shop, minding my own business. Nearby, was a mother with a fractious small child, who kept trying to climb out of his high chair, and squawking when she prevented him from doing so. Hey, we've all been there. But then this woman threatened her child: "If you don't sit nicely, that lady over there is going to come over here and spank you."

Well, this 'lady over there' was having none of that, and said so. "I certainly will not. Disciplining your child is your responsibility. Don't you dare bring me into it!"

Wm Chamberlain said...

@Karyn Thanks for the comment. I don't really see giving make work as discipline, not really teaching the student anything. I do consider it punishment and don't feel it is my place.

I find it amazing that the mother would try to scare her child with you. I suspect she will have a lot of sad days ahead of her with that type of discipline strategy.

Philip said...

In looking from a different perspective, I'm wondering what the child is missing in your class by not being there. Is there some essential learning that he isn't receiving or obtaining because of the ISS? If so, is there a way he can "do the work" while out of your class? I don't think I'd assign something just to assign it, but if he is missing meaningful learning/work, he needs an opportunity to accomplish that (be it through a pen & paper, reading, etc.).

Cathy Crea said...

What message does it send that school work = punishment?

Wm Chamberlain said...

@Philip My class is almost completely based on student discovery. I tell them what I want them to make and the tools I want them to use. I do give a lot of time for projects to be completed so missing one day will not really set them back.

I would not necessarily assume the same in the other classes though. I think there are a lot of learning experiences that would justify being out of a classroom, not sure that ISS is one though.

@Cathy I am not sure what most of our school work equates to, but I would not reject out of hand the word punishment. ;) I am not sure the setting makes a real difference.

Chris Mayoh said...

I've always been of the opinion that punishing children with learning is one of the most confused and dangerous messages teachers can possibly send out to students. Pretty shocking behaviour really.

Wm Chamberlain said...

@Chris I am not sure how wide-spread this is, but I would guess this is not atypical. On the other hand, I am not sure that learning and a lot of our curriculum are mutually compatible anyway.

Mr. Ray said...

Like others have said, using extra work as a punishment is a recipe for disaster. I also think that sounds like a reaction, and a discipline plan needs to be about pro-action.

So one of my main pushes each year early on is how to deal with other teachers. I tell my class they're expected to act with other teachers/aides the way they would with me. This extends to clusters, push-ins, pull-outs, and the lunchroom. Because I take the time to do this (early on) before each transition to a different adult, and then ask in front of the class for a report from the adult, my classes generally do well.

If they don't, though, the furthest I go with "punishment" is talking to the offenders, and taking the opportunity to reflect together on what the expectations are and where those expectations weren't met. I don't believe in punishing for transgressions with other teachers. That's for those teachers to decide.

By the way, I operate on the assumption that discipline is a plan that includes dealing with issues before they arise and having the punishment for these issues in place before they come up. That's fairest.

LeeAnn said...

I could reiterate what others have already commented. One of the biggest reasons I wouldn't want to add to the discipline or punishment is because in my building, what many kids are disciplined for in other rooms are minor infractions that simply need redirection by a teacher, not removal from the room.

Kayla (Perkins) Beck said...

I agree because even if they misbehave for someone else, does not mean that they do not have more respect for you. As teachers, I truly believe that if we respect our kids long enough, they will learn that respecting us is the best choice. And making them do punishment work for another class is not your job. It is the job of that teacher to handle it in his/her class, not in yours.

Erin Tillman said...

I believe that your class and your rules should not have anything else to do with another teacher or class. If misbehavior is in another class, the punishment should not transfer to you. You do not personally know what happened. That would make the student/teacher relationship plummet.

Allie Howell said...

I have to agree with the majority. A child should not be disciplined in one class for what he or she did in another.

As a child, I remember my parents getting into a couple of little "tiffs" because my mom used to do the whole, "Just wait until your dad gets home!" My dad claimed that was a completely ineffective disciplinary action. If a child misbehaves with Mom, then Mom does the punishing.

I think this same principle applies to school. A child shouldn't be punished by one teacher just because he or she misbehaved in another teacher's classroom. just doesn't make sense.