Posts Tagged ‘Discipline’

19 US States Still Allow Corporal Punishment in their Classrooms

April 7, 2013


It is quite upsetting that 19 US States still allow corporal punishment in their schools. Below are some damning statistics taken from 2005-2006. I hope the numbers of students hit per state has dramatically lessened since then, but I somewhat doubt it. Of equal concern is the ratio of black and Hispanic children being metered out this outdated and inhumane form of punishment.

Number of Students Hit
Number of IDEA Students Hit
Total Number of Students Hit
Percentage of Total Students
North Carolina
New Mexico
South Carolina

A Mother’s Punishment For Her Pot Smoking Son (Video)

August 28, 2012

Good on April Mathison for doing her best to get her son on the right track:

“Smoked Pot, got caught. Don’t I look cool? Not.”

That’s what was written on the sandwich board-style sign that Brandon Mathison, 13, wore as he walked back and forth along an intersection in South Carolina, reports.

“Time outs and taking things away just doesn’t work any more. Sometimes a little public humility is what they need nowadays to get a point across,” the boy’s mother, April Mathison, told the news outlet.

Mathison said that if the display prevents even one child from thinking about smoking marijuana, then she will feel she has done her job as a parent. But she’s not the only parent to use the tactic on her child.

Click on the link to read Inspirational Dad Competes In Triathlon With Daughter Who Has Cerebral Palsy

Click on the link to read Brilliant Rap Song By Parents About Parenting

Click on the link to read 20 Tips to Ensuring Your Kids Find You Embarrassing

Click on the link to read This is What You Get for Doing Your Homework

The New Form of Spanking

August 7, 2012

I am personally not fond of spanking. I don’t think it works and I personally choose to discipline my daughter by other means. I don’t, however, believe in banning parents from exercising their right to spank.

I was reading a standard article about spanking and couldn’t help but gasp at a new form of spanking:

In an experiment that involved surreptitiously watching parents discipline their kids in public places such as restaurants, researchers found that in 23 percent of cases, mom or dad resorted to “negative touch” to get their child to comply. Negative touch can include anything from restraining and spanking to pinching and hitting.

Restraining? How can you blame a parent for restraining their own child? Just the expression “negative touch” is something I consider repulsive.

It is just completely mind-boggling that it is legal for teachers to inflict corporal punishments in many civilised countries, yet to simply restrain your own child during a tantrum draws the disapproval of so-called child experts.

Click on the link to read Teachers Who Beat Kids Should Be Put Away!

Click on the link to read Corporal Punishment Reveals the Worst School Has to Offer

Click on the link to read Calls To Allow Teachers To Use “Reasonable Force” on Students

The Punishment That Used to Work but No Longer Does

June 18, 2012

When I was a child there was no punishment more feared than a suspension from school.  The idea that the Principal could at any moment call your parents to pick you up and take you home was enough to make any child think before breaking a rule. But times have changed and suspensions have lost their effectiveness. This is partly due to it being metered out for minor offenses such as answering back and rudeness and partly due to a change in parenting styles.

If my parents were given the call to pick me up early they would have been furious. They would have immediately sided with the school and grounded me at home. Nowadays, parents take their children’s side and embrace them rather than berate them. When the child returns to school after their suspension, it is common to hear them boast about being taken out for a coffee and spending the afternoon playing video games.

It is no wonder that a recent survey has labelled suspensions as ‘counterproductive’:

SUSPENDING students from school for bad behaviour is counterproductive, with students who have been suspended twice as likely to be excluded again in the next 12 months.

Research by Australian Catholic University professor Sheryl Hemphill found about 6 per cent of students in Years 6-8 have been suspended, rising to 12 per cent of Year 10 students.

“Kids who are suspended just keep getting suspended. It doesn’t stop the behaviour that resulted in the suspension, it almost sets them on a pathway more likely to lead to suspension,” she said. “The risk for students who are having trouble maintaining engagement and staying at school is that suspension starts to help them move out of school.”

As part of a series of reports on problems in our nation’s schools, The Australian has found that suspended students were 50 per cent more likely to engage in antisocial behaviour and 70 per cent more likely to commit a violent act in the next 12 months.

Professor Hemphill said the policy of excluding students from school as punishment for bad behaviour sent a mixed message: every child must attend school, except on some occasions.

“It’s so contradictory to everything else we’re trying to do,” she said. “We’re trying to keep kids in school longer, we know the positive benefits of keeping them connected to further study and training for employment.

“Suspension doesn’t fit with the current policy environment, a lot of which promotes connection with education, because suspension is potentially a way of cutting off students.”

The problem with scrapping suspensions is that it leaves teachers with fewer options in dealing with class discipline issues.

Click here to read about my post on teachers being stripped of the ability to give punishments that work.

5 Tips for Frustrated Teachers

June 6, 2012

If you are finding your job quite challenging lately and you are at a loss to work out how to restore order in the classroom, I hope these tips will prove useful:

1. You Have Nothing to be Ashamed of: Even the best of teachers often struggle to keep control of a classroom. You should not feel deflated if your current crop of children are making your life difficult and testing your patience. This is nothing unusual. Make sure you keep a positive front. Children do not tend to feel empathy for a defeated teacher. On the flip side, they have respect for a teacher that can overcome difficult moments and stay positive, enthusiastic and show a willingness to intoduce new ideas to make things work.

2. What you Teach is not as Important as who you Teach: As much as it can frustrate when you have a lot to cover and so little time to cover it, it is important to note that the most important aspect of your job is to look after the wellbeing of your students. It is perfectly alright to interrupt a maths class for a discussion on bullying or respect. It is also important to realise that whilst Timmy may frustrate you and come to class with a poor attitude, the best thing you can do for him is to plant a seed of positivity. He may leave your class without the skills you have taught, but at least you have let him know that you believe in him and are there for him regardless.

3. If They are not Listening, Perhaps you Should Stop Talking: Teachers often complain about the lack of concentration among their students. This is commonplace, but not always entirely the students’ fault. Teachers often talk too much. From laboured mat sessions to interminable board work, teachers have got to realise that the more they talk, the more the students program themselves to daydream. Teachers have got to spend less time talking to the class and more time going from individual to individual. This is less threatening, more effective and better for charting individual progress. Other ideas include: Group work, games and interactive programs.

4. Stop Threatening: Detentions, suspensions and other punishments are important tools in a teachers toolbox, but boy they can get overused! A teacher’s attitude sets the tone for the classroom. If the “go-to” response is always to threaten and punish, the classroom will be a negative place. If the teacher instead put a privilege on the board (such as extra computer time) and during the class add under the privellege according to behaviour, attitude and work ethic, it sets a very different mood. Instead of feeling watched and judged, the students feel empowered to earn the teacher’s respect and motivated to win the reward.

5. Small Changes Make a Big Difference: When you are in a rut, the desperate part of you wants to change the world in a day. This is impossible. A better approach would be to isolate a goal or two such as; working on an orderly line-up, getting the students to raise hands before asking questions or getting the students to reflect on how they treat each other. These goals may seem insufficient in the grader scheme of an uncontrolled classroom but I assure you small goals can make big changes to the classroom dynamic.

I hope these tips are of use. We all struggle at times to teach effectively. You are not alone!

Kids Don’t Need Gold Stars

May 11, 2012

In my opinion, the look that children give when they receive a gold star is misleading. Sure, they look excited, but that excitement is sometimes relative. In truth, kids don’t need gold stars and essentially, that is not what they are after when they produce good work.

What they really want is something – anything. They want a compliment, a smile, a gesture that will make them feel better about themselves. School can be such an overwhelming place. Teachers are so good at being critical. Critical of the way students dress, sit, answer back, talk, the speed in which they work, the neatness of their handwriting etc. The gold star doesn’t just signify an achievement of sorts, it breaks the cycle of criticism and balances the ledger somewhat.

As teachers, we need to be aware that our students crave our acceptance and approval. They may superficially be doing this by trying to earn a gold star, but essentially, all they really want is a confidence boost.

I enjoyed the tips for showing recognition to students by bestselling author and confessed ‘gold star junkie’, Gretchen Rubin:

1. Be specific. Vague praise doesn’t make much of an impression.

2. Find a way to praise sincerely. It’s a rare situation where you can’t identify something that you honestly find praiseworthy. “Striking” is one of my favorite fudge adjectives.

3. Never offer praise and ask for a favor in the same conversation. It makes the praise seem like a set-up.

4. Praise process, not outcome.This particularly relevant with children. It’s more helpful to praise effort, diligence, persistence, and imagination than a grade or milestone.

5. Look for something less obvious to praise – a more obscure accomplishment or quality that a person hasn’t heard praised many times before; help people identify strengths they didn’t realize they had. Or praise a person for something that he or she does day after day, without recognition. Show that you appreciate the fact that the coffee’s always made, that the report is never late. It’s a sad fact of human nature: those who are the most reliable are the most easily taken for granted.

6. Don’t hesitate to praise people who get a lot of praise already. Perhaps counter-intuitively, even people who get constant praise – or perhaps especially people who get constant praise – crave praise. Is this because praiseworthy people are often insecure? Does getting praise lead to an addiction to more praise? Or – and this is my current hypothesis – does constant praise indicate constant evaluation, and constant evaluation leads to a craving for praise?

7. Praise people behind their backs. The praised person usually hears about the praise, and behind-the-back praise seems more sincere than face-to-face praise. Also, always pass along the behind-the-back praise that you hear. This is one of my favorite things to do!

The Loss of Common Sense in Education

May 6, 2012

Teacher Kathy Kenney-Marshall mourns the lack of common sense in education and shares some stories which highlight the double standards of some parents:

Lately though, one particular sentence repeats itself in my head when I read my school email. The line says, “Common Sense took a turn for the worse when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.”

I find this to be all too common as my teaching career marks nearly a quarter of a century. This includes, but is not limited to, expecting that kids do their homework.

Recently for example a parent was incensed when her child was not given a sticker on a homework assignment that was not completed according to directions! A sticker!!

It happened every once in a while when I was newer to the profession; a child on the verge of permanent punishment made up a story to “get me in trouble”: “MOM! The teacher is making me write every spelling word from the whole year 5,000 times each and it’s May!” “MOM! She’s making me write a 17-page paper on the 17 countries in West Africa…by TOMORROW!”

Most of the time the parents of these embellishment makers, will write a note asking why I am torturing children, but for the most part, I get a very nice call or note letting me know about the tall tales that are coming home to deflect the attention off themselves and whatever it is they have or haven’t done, and onto me, the evil teacher in room B29.

But, as I spend more and more time in the classroom, I find myself addressing situations that make me believe that Common Sense is, if not dead, rushing out the doors of many homes. Not too long ago, I had a parent call me to say that she was having trouble putting her child to bed. She asked what I could do to help her. I thought perhaps she dialed the wrong number and really meant to call the pediatrician. But sadly, I was mistaken.

She literally asked me if I could come to her home to help her put her unruly-at-home son to bed because I didn’t seem to have trouble with him at school.

Another day, I received a phone call from a distraught mother whose child was new to our school. She was upset because her very bright daughter wrote a very messy essay and reported, “Mrs. KKM said to do it this way.”

The mother berated me for forcing her child to do a bad job. It didn’t take long to figure out the confusion; I asked the children to do a rough draft, but since they are only 8, and I like to rhyme, I call it a “sloppy copy” and apparently I failed to explain the term properly to an appropriately literal third- grader. The mother and I had a laugh and so did the student the next day.One of my favorites of late was a parent of a child who transferred from a very religious private school. The parent called to inquire about a discussion that her son relayed to her from the day. The conversation went something like this:

Parent: “Are you teaching about the family in school?”

Me: “No, there is a family/community unit in first grade, but not in third.”

P: “Well are you teaching about alternative lifestyles?” (Now I was interested)

M: “Hmm….no. I can’t figure out where you’re going with this, why do you ask?”

P: “Mrs. Kenney-Marshall! We are a very conservative and religious family! Are you teaching homosexuality?!” (I almost choked on my water.)

What I wanted to say and almost did, but MY Common Sense took over just in time, “No, Ma’am, that’s not until fourth grade.” After a few more questions from me, I realized what she was talking about; in math class, I had talked about how certain numbers are related. For example; 4, 3, and 12 are related in multiplication and division. She was immensely relieved, but as I hung up the phone, I shook my head and found myself missing my good friend Common Sense who had apparently vacated her home that day.


Both a Parents’ Best Friend and Worst Enemy

April 21, 2012

I witnessed a 10 year-old boy having a major meltdown at the shoe shop last Sunday. He acted in an obnoxious way and completely embarrassed his mother. Kicking out in obvious frustration, he berated his mother for taking him to the shop (even though she took him because he needed new shoes!) He screamed out on a number of occasions, “This is so boring!”

It took a while for the mother t0 react decisively. At first she tried to reassure him, then sweet talk him. Finally she decided to threaten him. Nowadays, when a parent threatens their child there seems to be a standard “go to” consequence – the use of the family game console. The mother said, “That’s it! No more Playstation for the rest of the day!”

And then she paused, if only to reflect on what she had just done and whether she was comfortable with the challenges that come with setting such a punishment.

“What?” came the boy’s reply. “No Playstation? For the whole day? Why?”

“Because of your tantrum. I’m fed up with it!”

“But that’s not fair! I was just bored, that’s all!”

And then, as if the penny dropped, the mother realised what she had done. In a haste to punish her child, it dawned on her that she had in fact punished herself. She realised that her child is tolerable in front of the Playstation and a considerable challenge away from it. So she scrambled for an “out clause.”

“If you behave for the rest of your time here I might reconsider.”

Unfortunately, this is becoming standard practice among parents. As much as they hate watching their children becoming couch potatoes and gaming addicts, as much as they wish that they could get their attention quicker and steer them away from these distractions when it’s time to do homework, they have come to rely on it for peace and quiet. Here this mother had the perfect punishment for her son’s terrible exhibition. Following through would certainly be a “game changer.” It would make the statement that if you want to misbehave like that in public again it may come at a major price.

But no, this parent wasn’t prepared to risk ruining the rest of her Sunday for the sake of this statement. She probably wanted her son to be out of sight and mind for the rest of the day and there was no way that was going to happen with the punishment she nominated.

I am not trying to judge this parent. We have all breathed a sigh of relief as our child has camped in front of television or computer screen at some stage.

I am merely commenting on the stranglehold this technology has over parents, children and families.

Ten Useful Tips for Improving Classroom Management

March 7, 2012

Every teacher has moments when they struggle to gain the attention, if not respect, of their class. has provided 10 useful strategies for improved classroom management.

1. Give at least one warning.

They’re kids. Kids aren’t perfect. I call the name of the student who is disrupting the class, and I say, “That’s one.” Most of the time, that’s all the student needs to straighten up.

2. Don’t try and teach over the noise.

A lot of the student teachers I’ve had are guilty of this. I was guilty of this also when I first started teaching. You have a plan that you have to get through. You see a few students actually paying attention to you, so you don’t want to stop, even though you know the kids in the back are doing something other than listening to you. You can’t go on. You have to stop and either wait till you have all their attention or you have to deal with the students who are taking attention from you.

3. Don’t raise your voice. Stay in control.

When you yell at the students, you give up control, and the students win.

4. Don’t humiliate a student, especially in front of his/her friends.

It’s never a good idea to humiliate a student. Sometimes, when you call their name in front of the class for making noise, it becomes an embarrassing moment. Do your best to make it as short a moment as possible. Don’t go into a long lecture on proper behavior in front of the class. First of all, you may lose any hopes for future success with that student, and you might cause that student to become defensive and belligerent. Some students will risk everything to save face in front of their friends.

5. Spend time on your lesson plan.

My toughest days are when my plan is the weakest. A detailed lesson plan will go a long way to reduce your class disruptions. You can’t just “wing it,” and expect the class to run smoothly.

6. Be consistent.

If one day you give a consequence for poor behavior, and tomorrow you don’t, it’s sends a bad message.

7. Have a discipline ladder.

What is the consequence for the first offence? Second? Make sure the kids know what will happen at each level. Also, make it a short ladder. One = warning; Two = detention; Three = referral to the office, etc.

8. Forget yesterday’s poor behavior.

Make every day a new day, especially for those students who really made you mad yesterday.

9. Praise and remember good behavior.

It’s good to remind your students of how great they did yesterday or last week.

10. Don’t be afraid to contact parents.

Many times, the parents can help you reinforce your rules. Notice I didn’t say “All the times?” Some parents won’t do anything.

I hope these tips will make life easier for you in the classroom. If you have other strategies that have worked for you, please feel free to share them with us.

The Difficulties of Parenting

February 6, 2012

This afternoon I met a colleague outside her eldest child’s school. She had just picked him up from school and was struggling to get both him and his younger sibling inside the car. Her youngest child was making life very difficult for her by having a temper tantrum by the side of the road.

When she saw me, she apologised for the commotion and looked terribly embarrassed by the behaviour of her screaming 2 year-old. I tried putting her at ease, by explaining that I know what it’s like when young children are hot and tired, but it was no use. The whole ordeal clearly embarrassed my poor colleague.

This got me thinking. Society, women in particular, are so judgemental when it comes to parenting and “proper” parenting styles. They are so good at making a poor young mother feel insecure about a whole range of related issues. Any parent can tell you that tantrums are part of the job description. No matter how good or bad your parenting skills are, your kids are a good bet to have a public tantrum every once in a while.

The same goes for parents that feed their kids the odd candy bar or take them out for fast food once in a while. The needn’t feel judged, but they are.

That is why I would like to start a movement. It’s called the “Mind Your Own Business” movement.

You think I’m too lenient on my child? – Mind Your Own Business!

You object to what I put in my child’s lunchbox? – Mind Your Own Business!

You think I should work less and be home more? – Mind Your Own Business!

What’s that? My child is too young to go to child care? – Mind Your Own Business!

I shouldn’t have given up so easily on breastfeeding my baby? – Mind Your Own Business!

You think I’m an over protective parent? – Mind Your Business!

Parenting is a might hard job. Getting a healthy balance between work and home as well as not being too strict or too lenient is so difficult. People should avoid giving parenting advice unless they are specifically called on to do so. People shouldn’t go around thinking they are better parents than everyone else, because chances are they’re not.

And most of all, people should learn to mind their own bloody business!

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