First one of the year

I suspended my first student of the year today, in fact the first student at our school to be suspended this year.
I report this with no particular happiness- I take no joy in suspending kids, but simply as a fact. It happened.
Now, do I think suspending this particular student is going to have any positive impact on him or his desire to reform his behavior? Not particularly. But I’m not sure how many other options I had available to me.
Allow me to explain:
After school on Friday, this young man made, in front of me, a teacher, and a parent, what appeared to me to be an obscene gesture towards another student. I asked him to come over to me to discuss the issue, and was met with typical early-teen attitude and denial. My intention at the time was to give a brief “don’t-do-that-here-again” lecture, but he continued with the attitude and started to walk away. I followed and told him to come back, but he continued to walk off. I said, “I’m not going to chase you, but I will see you on Monday,” giving him a last chance to return without any serious consequence, but to no avail. I tracked the student down through a little detective work and found he had a history last year of similar behaviors.
Now, the question is, did I do the right thing to suspend him from school? (1 day, for those who are wondering).
My situation, I feel, limited me a bit:
1) I’m new at the school this year, so I am establishing my credibility with students, teachers, and parents alike at this point.
2) This incident took place in public, in front of parents and other students.
3) The student had a history of similar behaviors.

Number 3, more than the other 2, made up my mind for me. Had this been a first-time kind of thing, I would have chosen another consequence, but didn’t feel like I could under the circumstances.

What would you have done?

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6 comments so far

  1. "Ms. Cornelius" on

    Here’s the way to look at it: what message would have been sent by tolerating or not attempting to check this behavior?

    1) Student would have gotten the message that this behavior had no consequences.

    2) Student would have pushed the envelope to find out just what is and is not allowed.

    43) Parents would have understood that their own children could be subjected to this behavior with no consequences for the perp.

    5) You would have sent the message of PUBLICLY tolerating this behavior.

    They’re called “standards for a reason, and that means that some people will refuse to meet them. Tolerate this incivility, and the problem will metastasize.

    You did the right thing, and you should not question yourself. It’s probably the first time this young person has had his behavior checks in a month of Sundays.

  2. The Bus Driver on

    I agree with Ms. Cornelius.

    As a school bus driver, I run the gammut when it comes to the schools and behavior problems on and off the school bus. WE know which schools will “do something” and discipline the child, and which schools refuse to do anything because afterall its easier to just let things slide “kids will be kids” style.

    We know which administrators will stand up to ANY children from ANY school from pre-k through 12th grade AND will remove them from the bus for poor behavior. (We wish we could clone that administrator – he’s well loved and respected.)

    More on the lines of the student, do you have a STAR (Student Transition and Recovery) program or something similar? Maybe that student needs to be placed in that program for his behavior problems?

  3. David on

    You absolutely did the right thing, first by letting the kid go at the moment, but resolving to track him down later. No need for police drama, chasing a suspect down the street.

    Also, the consequence assigned was very appropriate. It would have been just as appropriate if no one had witnessed the incident, but it was totally necessary under the circumstances.

    Right on!

  4. Alexa on

    I think that it is important to discipline all of the students the same way but it is also important to know the students’ background. Most of the time when they are acting out it usually has something to do with their home life. I feel that some students think that they can never get in trouble and that it is important to not worry about “stepping on the kids’ toes.” As a teacher, we have a job to do, teach the students the best we can. I feel you did the right thing for suspending the student because now he will know his boundaries and respect you more.

  5. Emily-Anne on

    I think you did the right thing. Apparently he has behavior problems and noone else has done anything about it. I think this suspenstion will and should teach him a lesson. It sounds liek you might a put a little fear into him when you actually punished him for his wrong actions.

  6. Mr. C on

    Alexa and Emily-Anne,
    I really wish that was the case, that the student I suspended had learned his lesson. Unfortunately, I’m not convinced that was true.
    While I believe he understands his limits with me, I’m not sure he is any more inclined to follow the rules than he was at the beginning of the school year. From my observations since this event, this particular student has gone “underground” and is just more subtle with his behavior. It’s harder to catch him being “bad” now, but that doesn’t mean he’s being “good,” one of the unfortunate side effects of this type of consequence.
    I’m still convinced I did what was right for this situation, but I don’t know that it was necessarily the action that was going to change this student’s behavior.
    That’s kind of the dilemma we deal with as administrators- consequences handed out for particular behaviors don’t always stop that behavior from repeating, but not handing out consequences may encourage that behavior to repeat. Kind of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.

    Thanks for commenting!


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