Are students being held accountable at your school?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Peregrin5, May 7, 2016.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Yesterday, before school, our infamous 8th grade group (not my students) set off a couple of fire-crackers. This was while we had a whole bunch of students on the basketball court after they've been told they can't be up there without supervision. I was passing by, and immediately kicked everyone off the court. I was discreetly cursed out (eh, who cares?) but most of these kids who didn't know me previously realized that I wasn't a teacher they could walk all over.

    I am getting the sense that our students in our school believe that all of the teachers are soft and easy on misbehavior, and that they aren't going to be held accountable to the rules. They tried to argue and debate with me thinking that would work (because it works with other teachers). I ignored all of it, and kept them off the court.

    I got the dish about who set off the firecrackers from a student and sent the info to the principal. The principal said she couldn't really do anything about it without hard proof, though she was SURE (as was everyone) it was who I had named, because she's been dinged so often for giving consequences disproportionately to students of color.

    This entire year all of the teachers have been realizing that we haven't been holding this bunch accountable, for their actions. I don't think it's my P's fault, because her hands are tied by the Ed Code.

    I agree that students of color definitely face more discipline than caucasian students, and that sometimes it's unwarranted, but I think these restrictions keep schools, admin, and teachers from being effective.

    The fact is, misbehavior occurs more often with students of color. The issue stems from the socioeconomic and institutional racism that is rife in our country. This means that students of color are forced to grow up more often in impoverished homes, with families that have to work many jobs just to make ends meet, and so don't have the time and ability to discipline their children. Or sometimes they lack the education to do what is really best for their children and instead fall into the many traps that are laid for poorer families. (alcoholism, drugs, gangs, etc.)

    So I think it's a problem, but the appropriate solution is not to stop holding minority students accountable for their behavior. That will only worsen the situation because then they are disrupting their own learning and the learning of others. This problem has seeped into all issues with holding students accountable, because our P can't hold only caucasian students accountable and not the students of color, because that's clearly unfair. So caucasian students who misbehave get away with it too, now.

    How are things at your school in regards to holding students accountable for misbehavior. I understand that this might be less of a problem in less diverse schools.
     
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  3. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    My experience seems to be that the more a student is held accountable the higher the likelihood confrontation and accusations will arise against teachers and admin by the parents of said students. The issue is not accountability by the schools as much as parents wanting help holding their child accountable.
     
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  4. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I think fear of confrontation is definitely a factor in some schools. Is that the main issue in your school? And is it really "parents wanting help holding their child accountable" as you said, because your first sentence implies that parents don't want to hold their children accountable and don't want others too as well.

    My principal isn't the type to be cowed by difficult parents. But she is cowed by her bosses in the district.
     
  5. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I don't think it has anything to do with students of color, but I do wish that my school (admin and other teachers) would hold students accountable to a higher standard of behavior across the board. I have noticed kids getting more disrespectful and having no consequences for things they really should be receiving consequences for.

    I'm a big believer in the broken window theory... I think picking on the small things keeps problems from escalating. For example, talking when a teacher is talking is a big issue for me, so if students are talking while I'm teaching, I ask them to stop and give a consequence if it continues. Other teachers that my kids come in contact with (we partner teach and students have specials) just say stop talking and then talk over them instead of addressing it when the talking does not stop. I wish students were held accountable for following rules in every classroom. I also am picky about uniform, while others allow blatant violations. If a school is going to go to the trouble of making a rule, it needs to be enforced.
     
  6. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I think it influences how situations are handled at my school. The principle is not afraid, but will start doing things completely by the book knowing that as the student is held more accountable the parents are likely to turn from an ally to opposition.

    I was trying to say that I don't think it is the schools and teachers that are not holding students accountable, parents don't want their child to "go to the next level", get tested for sped, or get diagnosed ED. The parents NEED to change their perspective from mama bears, to looking at the consistent patterns of behaviors of their child. It is uncomfortable as a parent.
     
  7. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    So otterpop, what kind of consequences should the school have for these violations? What can a school really do? Our school is really struggling with behaviors right now, so I am curious what one thinks the consequences should be. We use a PBIS system, not seeing it work to be honest.
     
  8. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    We don't have anything like PBIS, and I think even that would be an improvement. In my classroom, having a kid take a time out and sit away from the class is usually sufficient. Sometimes I take away recess too. It doesn't need to be a big deal. It's just got to be something.

    Personally, I'd like to see students get assigned work duty for bigger issues. Making them clean up trash or wash windows or something during recess. But, I'm not sure it's a possibility with how much parents complain these days.
     
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  9. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    2 things
    1. classroom consequences like you describe are prevalent, it is not working.
    2. Work duty sounds good, but I think I can use this term...illegal.
     
  10. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Yeah, again, not something I'm doing. I don't know that it would be illegal, though.
     
  11. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Overall, I think the best action is a proactive approach. I'd like to see character education be taught along with the other subjects. Too many kids just aren't learning things like respect at home.
     
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  12. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Yeah, I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure it is illegal in California. I think it is linked to corporal punishment.

    I agree with character development.
     
  13. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Not illegal. But the custodian's union would be unhappy.
     
  14. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Do you feel that the media or society in general has promoted the idea that parents should be "mama bears" and protect their children from the "mean principals" more nowadays than in the past?

    This could be linked to how parents gave a lot more freedom to their kids in the past, where they ran around freely, but a few cases of kidnapping put a general scare into the public and kids mostly aren't allowed outdoors anymore without parent supervision (and in some cases parents can be arrested for it).
     
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  15. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    My point is, I think that keeping kids at school, and giving them something productive to do, is better than suspension for things like disrespect, especially because schools are really reluctant to suspend kids at the moment.
     
  16. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I think it is likely a lot of things. Younger parents who were not well supervised as kids themselves now in charge of their own kids. The harsh reality that their child struggles in "society", the labels, being told they have to "step up their parenting game" at home, effort...etc. that comes with that.

    Ultimately, IMO, I think it is the political correctness issue of the USA. We are not allowed to say the truth, everything is shrouded in fluffy words.
     
  17. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    I agree, I even agree with them doing some work, especially if they contributed to ruining something, I was just pointing out that this is very iffy at least where I work. I have heard it discussed in terms of not being legal or corporal punishment, something along those lines. Admin wants or has wanted to use it, but had serious concerns.
     
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  18. Peregrin5

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    I agree as well. Suspension just kicks them off back home, and that's where these students don't learn anything. In fact for some, that's a reward, because they can hang around at home and play games.

    Pashtun: I think part of it is political correctness in terms of how we're allowed to talk to parents. We treat parents like customers, and we'd never say something like: "you need to step up your parenting game". It's a grave insult to criticize a parent's parenting skills.

    Thus if a school has to call home frequently for behavior, the parent becomes indignant because they see it as an insult to their parenting skills. I think it's a move from "it takes a village" to "I have to do it on my own, and appear great at it!"
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2016
  19. MathGuy82

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    In my school some extent. However, it always seems to boil down to the teacher's fault in some way or another. If someone doesn't want to work in class or wants to do something mischievous, they are going to. We can try to contact parents and write minor citations (called level one or zaps in my school). However, to do something big, like detention for a couple of days is quite a bit of work and is rather time consuming when you have so much to do. We have to approve the referral to the principal and deal with the student telling the parents a lie. Schools should have a "room" where students work if they want to cause trouble in the class or do things illegal in my opinion. Students should not be allowed in class when they screw up a lot. But then they say "being away hinders learning". However, the mischievous being away shows an example and allows the class to learn. Why can't it be easier to remove students?? At colleges you can kick someone out for a day in that class period and do the same process again if they want to cause trouble. I get so fed up with hearing that principals and assistants are so busy all the time and it shows lack of classroom management if we have to send a student to them.
     
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  20. phillyteacher

    phillyteacher Comrade

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    IMO, I think a lot of this may have to do with parents who are not confident in their parenting skills but don't know what to do AND who are uncomfortable with school settings due to their own experiences. That's a difficult combination and likely puts parents on the defensive. "You need to step up your parenting game" is not at all constructive or helpful and doesn't acknowledge any "village-ness" either. I know that was just an off-hand example, I'm just saying...

    As far as uneven consequences for children of color, I think one big way this comes up is in how adults react to perceived (and, often, real) disrespect. I have been working on this one myself. If I want my students of color to be able to advocate for themselves, I need to allow them to advocate for themselves even if what they are advocating for is "against" me or something I've said/ done. I also need to teach them ways to do that that are appropriate, but I need to recognize that some forms of what I perceive as disrespect are actually students trying to advocate and slightly missing the mark in some way (it's a hard thing to do for me as an adult as well).
     
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  21. otterpop

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    It used to be that a call or note home would result in the child getting in trouble with their parents. Often, now, it turns into an excuse: "Well, ___'s been bullying my child and they're just sticking up for themselves" (given when their child punches a kid for absolutely no reason); "My child doesn't do well with this teacher as they're too strict/mean/not fair". I've directly heard the first, and several teachers I know have heard the second. It doesn't matter what the behavior is. Some parents will always find an excuse (and lead their kids to find one too).
     
  22. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Yes, the "step up your parenting game" reference was in respect to almost any advice, questioning, or criticism of what is going on at home, that parents do not want to be part of the "village". The village in the eyes of the parents is the SCHOOL and it should be fixed there.

    Also, the idea of parents as customers is very scary to me and feeds into the problem. I worked many years in retail and can tell you, treating someone as a customer meant knowingly providing a poor product, breaking any and all rules arbitrarily from one customer to the next, and lying about almost anything and everything, very dishonest and impersonal.

    The inability to be honest with a parent inhibits productive progress in my opinion, the same is true for students. Sometimes you have to look a student in the eyes and be honest "you are going to continue to struggle in reading until you pick up a book, raise your hand, ask some questions, and take some ownership of your learning." As long as we continue to hide these comments in fluffy rainbow and unicorn statements I personally don't believe it will get better.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2016
  23. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    That is so true! These kids need more honesty.
     
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  24. FourSquare

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    Pashtun, I understand your first post completely, and honestly my only solution was to get a job somewhere where the kids are less needy and better prepared to function in school. I'm tired.
     
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  25. FourSquare

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    I am a big fan of restorative justice....but that is NOT what that is meant to look like. There has to be a balance.

    Or maybe I just freaking suck, now. :confused: I used to be 100% relationship building, responsive classroom, tiered discipline.....now I'm just like "You know what? Go the **** home." :cool:

    I still think there's room for all the aforementioned practices, but it can't be at the expense of regular consequences. The kids have been NUTS.
     
  26. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    At my school the kids are held accountable. They have to be, because of the types of students we have. IT is also easier, because it's a small school (about 50-60 students), but it has to be small, again because of the students we have.

    My P's main thing right now is to keep us from getting frustrated. She knows April / May is the longest and worst stretch for teachers and students, and our disciplinary actions are often exaggerated, and based on emotions. She's trying to make sure we keep our cool, and she is right.
    But overall, the kids do have to answer for their actions, and it's not just one blanket-consequence, the punishment usually fits the crime and fits the student.
    At our school, no accountability would mean gang fights and riots every day, drugs and weapons brought to school, and luckily we have none of these issues :)
     
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  27. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Our kids are held accountable--by staff and by administration. Suspensions are rare, but that doesn't mean that discipline isn't happening. Our P and VP are rarely in the office--they spend most of their time in the halls, classrooms and on the yard dealing with small issues before they have a chance to become big ones.
     
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  28. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    That's odd. At my (public, residential) high school, we all had work service. My first semester I worked in the cafeteria, and second semester I worked cleaning the floors and bathrooms in the second floor of the main classroom building. Senior year I got media center as my work service. I liked that we gave back to the school. We were also responsible for keeping our own rooms and bathrooms clean, and would be assigned additional cleaning duties if we did not.

    A common punishment, both at the high school I attended and at the summer program I run, is cleaning. The idea is that if you have done something to make the program less beautiful, you will now do something to make it more beautiful, be it sweeping the stairs, taking out the trash on the halls, etc. We also make the students clean their own bathrooms and rooms, including sweeping and mopping, and require them to clean all of the common areas at the end of the day.

    Never had a custodian complain. Always had them be thankful that we were teaching kids that you don't just leave messes for someone else to clean.
     
  29. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    You also get parents like this: http://abc7ny.com/education/students-forced-to-clean-bathrooms-pick-up-trash-as-punishment/555673/

    who feel like you're picking on their precious baby when you actually make them responsible for anything.
     
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  30. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    A few weeks ago, I would have said yes, students are being accountable. However, in the past two weeks, I wrote up two students (the first referrals I have had all semester -- one for her phone, one for throwing a pencil up to stick in the ceiling tiles...) and neither one was followed through with by admin. Both happened to be "nice white kids," by they way. I don't know if it's because it's May or what, do we not have consequences any more? I am really hoping this was a coincidence and not a new pattern...
     
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  31. ChemCoastie

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    Nope and nope. The lack of accountability at my current school is astounding.
     
  32. ChemCoastie

    ChemCoastie Rookie

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    Mostly a lack of follow through with administration support, which makes it hard to manage certain students who have found out that there will be no repercussions for their actions.
     
  33. YoungTeacherGuy

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  34. otterpop

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  35. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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  36. Loomistrout

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    Very astute P and VP. They see their role as proactive or preventing discipline problems. This is contrary to many schools which seem to be stuck on the "What should happen to _____ for doing _____ ?" or reacting after the fact. This also supports research by Fred Jones that showed "Distance is safety while proximity is accountability."
     
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  37. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    I am so fortunate to work in small elem. schools. 205 kids in one and 140 in the other. The bigger one has one P and she follows through and is NEVER hesitant to call parents to solve the problems. Consistent and fair. The other one is great at curriculum and stuff but struggles with discipline some. We do have some insane parents and situations but it the other lady would hammer that stuff, All in all with small numbers we can keep the fires out mostly, IF I was at one school full time that would make a HUGE difference at either one.
     
  38. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    Edited to add...never mind! I found it!
    48900.6. As part of or instead of disciplinary action prescribed by
    this article, the principal of a school, the principal's designee,
    the superintendent of schools, or the governing board may require a
    pupil to perform community service on school grounds or, with written
    permission of the parent or guardian of the pupil, off school
    grounds, during the pupil's nonschool hours. For the purposes of this
    section, "community service" may include, but is not limited to,
    work performed in the community or on school grounds in the areas of
    outdoor beautification, community or campus betterment, and teacher,
    peer, or youth assistance programs. This section does not apply if a
    pupil has been suspended, pending expulsion, pursuant to Section
    48915. However, this section applies if the recommended expulsion is
    not implemented or is, itself, suspended by stipulation or other
    administrative action.




     
  39. YoungTeacherGuy

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  40. CindyBlue

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    Thank you!

     
  41. Geologygirl

    Geologygirl Comrade

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    Kids at my school dont get seen after getting a referal somtimez untill a week or two has passed. Kids who should be expelled and are on contracts to be expelled if they mess up again often are never expelled due to the district being afraid of being sued....I have one kid on his 5th or 6th "last chance".
    Many parents question discipline decisions or call teachers liars......or refuse to let their kid get a consequence.....its in a well off area.
     
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