Posts Tagged ‘Suspensions’

When Something Doesn’t Work – Try Again Until it Does

July 1, 2012

When it comes to disciplining students who are continually getting into trouble, Principals suffer from an extreme case of memory loss. The standard punishment of granting suspensions hasn’t worked and is unlikely to work in the future.

So what is the standard reaction to students that continue to offend? Suspend them again!

THE state’s worst students are being suspended at least once every three weeks.

Data reveals 90 misbehaving students were sent home from school 16 or more times in 2011 and another 16 were suspended between 11 and 15 times throughout the year.

The Education Department said the primary and secondary school children were sent home for between one and 10 days.

State School Teachers Union president Anne Gisborne said mainstream schools did not have the resources to cope with recidivist students.

“We do have a number of children within our system who are obviously stretching the capacity of the school to respond to their needs,” she said.

The number of suspensions issued for “negative behaviour”, such as disrupting lessons or back-chatting a teacher, have surged almost 50 per cent in five years. Just more than 1600 suspensions were handed out for such behaviour last year, compared to 1082 in 2007.

Suspensions for breaking school rules, such as not wearing a uniform or using a mobile phone in class rose 30 per cent. More than 7100 were issued last year, compared to 5453 in 2007.

Click on the link to read my post, The Punishment That Used to Work but No Longer Does’.

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!

Teachers Stripped of the Ability to Give Punishments That Work

November 11, 2011

We are currently living in the age of “the hamstrung teacher’. Never has it been so hard for teachers to gain control, receive respect and maintain some semblance of authority.

Blogs and staff rooms are replete with dispirited and powerless teachers struggling with unruly and defiant students. It wasn’t long ago that teachers were able to meter out tough and effective consequences for bad behaviour. Unfortunately, it is so much harder now than it ever was to find the right penalty for inappropriate and insubordinate behaviour.

Why not send them to the Principal?

The Principal used to be an imposing figure. – someone you didn’t want to meet, even to get a certificate or compliment. Students used to avoid the Principal like a plague. Principal’s used to concern themselves with discipline issues and take charge when students overstepped the mark.  But nowadays a visit to the Principal’s office is not all that dissimilar to a trip to the fun park. A Principal’s job now is to keep parents and students happy and leave the real disciplining to the teachers.

“Next time try not calling the teacher those names.”

What about suspending them?

Nine hundred students are suspended every day in England. In Australia it is 100 per day. Being suspended used to be a humiliation. It would involve notifying the students’ parents, who would be none too happy to receive the phone call. Now suspensions presents just another opportunity to get back to the Playstation or X-Box. Parents often reassure their kids and allow them to go home and vegetate. Hardly a real punishment!

What about taking away their recess?

Don’t tell the civil libertarians about this mode of punishment! According to law, students can only be kept in for some of recess, not the entire playtime. And anyway, why should the teacher be punished? Teachers rely on their lunch breaks to recharge and re-energize. Monitoring detention just isn’t fair.

What about ringing the parents?

Parents used to be on the side of the teacher. When a teacher called a parent, that parent would take stock of what the teacher was saying and become partners in helping manage the problem. Nowadays, parents are likely to become defensive, make excuses and become unwitting enablers for their children’s poor behaviour.

Please note, that I am not tainting all parents. On the contrary, the parents I work with have been incredibly open and supportive. I am merely pointing out that trends are changing and punishments that used to make students squirm and think twice before acting, are now no longer a deterrent.

It is also important to note that most teachers are not trigger happy when it comes to punishments. We don’t like punishing students. We try to command respect rather than demand it. But there are times when all semblance of control is lost and students are purposely trying to sabotage the class and undermine their teacher.

In those cases, the teacher is often left to raise their arms skyward and ponder what it is they can do to remedy the situation.

The Hugging Rule: Another Example of Running Schools Like Prisons

November 4, 2011

There is a huge difference between hugging someone because they are your friend and sexual harassment.  It is not hard to distinguish one from the other.

Friends hugging innocently in the playground in no way prevents schools from punishing children for sexual harassment.

A 14-year-old Florida student who hugged his friend was suspended as a result of his middle school’s zero-tolerance no-hugging policy.

Nick Martinez said he gave a quick hug to his best friend, a female student, between classes, WKMG-TV reported.

The public display of affection was spotted by the principal of Palm Bay’s Southwest Middle School, which is 120km south-east of Orlando. While the principal told WKMG-TV he believed the hug was innocent, he brought the two students to the school’s dean, who penalised them with in-school suspensions.

According to the Southwest Middle School’s student handbook, students can receive a one-day out-of-school suspension for kissing, while students caught hugging or hand-holding are penalised with a dean’s detention or suspension.

The school’s strict policy stipulates that there is no difference between an unwanted hug, or sexual harassment, and a hug between friends, WKMG-TV reported.

What measures like this do, is transform schools which are already unnatural places for children and make them even more dreary and dictatorial.  The irony is, that while bullying continues to be a major problem, you would have though that acts of friendship would be encouraged, not outlawed.
What’s next – banning students from complimenting each other?
It’s about time we started matching school bans on children by imposing bans on schools.  I would love to ban schools from implementing rules inspired by political correctness gone wrong!

Do Suspensions Really Work?

October 7, 2011

I have been reading about the dramatic increases in suspensions as a response to schoolyard violence and unruly behaviour.  A few months ago I wrote about the 900 British students reportedly suspended per day.

Today I noticed that more than 100 students in Australia are being suspended on a daily basis:

VIOLENT schoolyard attacks have marred the start of Term 4 as figures show more than 100 suspensions were handed out every school day last year for physical misconduct.

One student was stabbed in the head and four others bashed with a baseball bat in separate schoolyard incidents this week.

A 14-year-old girl was hospitalised at Tara, west of Dalby, on Wednesday after she was stabbed in the head allegedly by another student, 14, with a steak knife during a lunchtime scuffle.

Tara Shire State College went into lockdown shortly after 1.30pm and police were called.

A 14-year-old girl has been charged and will be dealt with under the Youth Justices Act. She has also been suspended. The injured student required stitches.

The question has to be asked: Are suspensions working?

In my day the threat of a suspension was extremely effective in moderating our behaviour.  But with so many seemingly disregarding the inevitable consequences of violent or unruly behaviour, I am of the opinion that suspensions are not working.  It seems an opportune time to consider an alternate form of action.

What has been your experience with suspensions?  Do they work in your school?


900 British Students Suspended Per Day

July 29, 2011

It seems student violence is a major issue in Britain.  Reading that 900 students are suspended each day for physical and verbal violence towards teachers and classmates, indicates to me schools in Britain are at crisis point.  It seems that whatever they are doing clearly isn’t working:

Bad behaviour is blighting Britain’s schools with almost 900 children suspended every day for attacking or verbally abusing their teachers and classmates, new figures show.

Every school day 13 pupils are permanently expelled for attacks and abuse and 878 are suspended in England’s primary and secondary schools.

The figures, from the Department for Education, include physical assaults, racist abuse and threatening behaviour.

In total, they show school children were suspended on 166,900 occasions for assault or abuse.

And pupils were expelled on 2,460 occasions.

And the level of violence in primary schools was also high with children aged four and under suspended 1,210 times and expelled 20 times.

Across all of England’s primary, secondary and special schools, boys were around four times more likely to be expelled than girls, with boys accounting for 78 per cent of expulsions

%d bloggers like this: