(via Flickr: dcJohn)
NOTE: if looking for answers to the Discipline Conundrum…I don’t have them, but read on and give me your suggestions.
As an administrator, I often regret that a significant portion of my day (and week) is spent addressing behavioral issues. On a daily basis, I have good intentions of spending time on classroom visits (my favorite thing to do) only to be derailed by the latest in campus crises. It can be extremely frustrating–I don’t usually view time in my office (during the school day) as extremely productive.
There are two things that keep me from becoming totally discouraged with discipline. First, I know that my work addressing student behavior allows teachers to focus on what they need to do–teach. It is one less distraction in a profession that requires expertise in multi-tasking. Second, it is an opportunity for me to counsel/teach a student in a one-on-one situation–something classroom teachers dream about.
Here is the problem, as I see it. Sometimes, I am forced to make decisions in the best interest of the whole, at the expense of the individual student…or I follow school/district policy when I know it won’t help the student involved. This is particularly the case when addressing more severe violations–fighting, bullying, bus infractions, etc.
My opinion is that discipline needs to serve a purpose–helping students learn socially appropriate behavior. It isn’t applied to make a kid miserable. Unfortunately, many disciplinary situations involve taking a student who is already disengaged and struggling academically and further distancing them from the school environment. I understand why that sometimes needs to happen, but I don’t necessarily think it is the best thing for kids.
Some will argue that the counseling that should occur after a behavioral incident is the responsiblity of parents. That may be the way it should be, but we all know that isn’t always the reality. Th truth of the matter is that we have to work with what we are given and adequate parent support isn’t always part of the equation (see Beyond the Blame Game). So, how do we ensure that our disciplinary measures are helping students learn appropriate behavior? How do we keep from further disengaging at-risk students?
If you have the answers, please let me know. Otherwise, I will keep doing the best I can.