Misinterpreted what Principal said about pics of students

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by uncleal, Apr 2, 2011.

  1. uncleal

    uncleal Rookie

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    I misinterpreted what my principal told me about the student photo policy and will have to explain it to him next week.

    When I first started. The principal told me that if I was going to publish a photo on the Web site, that I would need to get parental consent. I also know not to post pictures on Facebook or other things.

    However, there is a gray line when it comes to classroom management.

    I have had a student who keeps bringing food into my class and not following my rules at all of not bringing food to my class. When I tell him to put the food away, he is very defiant. I have written him up several times, but he just doesn't get it. I have been talking regularly with the father who is well aware of the student's misbehavior.

    Finally, I decided to whip out my phone camera and snapped a photo of the student eating in my classroom and then e-mailed the photo to his parent. I thought that a picture would be worth a thousand words.

    The student made a scene and told me that I couldn't do that! He ran to the vice principal about it. He called his dad and I explained to the father my actions and why I chose to take the picture and how I would delete the photos from my camera and computer once it was e-mailed. I wanted the student's father to see the behavior in action.

    Bear in mind that I did not plan to use this for publication at all. The photo in question was specifically for the student's father and then I would delete the photo from my camera and from my computer with my teacher's aide (another adult) as my witness.

    A few minutes later, one of the admins shows up. When one of the admins asked me who gave me the right to take the photo, I said that the principal did because it was a photo taken not for publication but specifically for the parent. The admin requested that I deleted the photo immediately, which I did.

    Then, the VP showed up and told me that I cannot legally take photos of students like that. She told me that next time, I should write a written warning and leave it at that. She acknowledged that I was a new teacher and that this was a learning experience. However, I have to explain things to the P later this week, especially the fact that I misinerpreted his words.

    I am a nervous nelly but my partner is telling me that based on what he is hearing, it is a simple misunderstanding and that I should get off with a verbal or written warning and a stern "don't ever do that again."

    I know that I will never ever do it again. I am still a good teacher and a new one and I hope that this is just going to be a learning experience and not something that will require serious disciplinary action.

    What are your thoughts as teachers who have had much more experience and seen other things much worse happen? :help:
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Wow, I am allowed to take all the pictures of my class that I want. We post them for the students and even give some of the photos to the students (the ones that are only of them). I don't really see why taking a photo of a student eating is wrong as you can take photos for class projects or the such.

    I guess....maybe the emailing to a parent? Not sure about that either. I've never done it, but I don't see that as wrong either.

    The only thing that I could take as not following protocol is using your phone instead of a camera....

    Hopefully with a little time, the principal will realize that this is nothing and you didn't do anything to violate the rules.
     
  4. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I think you'll be just fine. Just explain, as you already plan to do, that you misunderstood the P about the policy on photos, you thought you were doing everything correctly, but now you understand and it won't happen again.
     
  5. TiffanyL

    TiffanyL Cohort

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    You are right in the sense that, yes, there have been much worse things happen.....and if this is the worst thing you do in your career, you will be fine.

    Nonetheless, take some time to reflect on what happened and how to prevent something like this in the future. You should never take a pic of a student on your cell phone....too many variables come into play there and you open yourself up to way too many liabilities.

    Maybe you could ask yourself why you felt it necessary to take a pic and send to the father? As a parent, I would be ticked over something such as eating food in class being sent in a cell photo to me.

    From your perspective, I'm sure your frustration level was up and it became annoying that you couldn't control this child's behavior. Keep in mind that kids pick up on that and play into it even more.

    Your response (taking the pic and sending it to dad) brought you down even further with regards to getting this kid to trust and respect you....and thus, follow your rules.

    I hope this isn't sounding rude...I don't mean it to be....just typing fast and trying to give you some food for thought.
     
  6. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Ironic--- students can take videos and photos of their teachers when the teacher is doing something wrong, but heaven forbid we take a photo for parental eyes only to prove their child is doing something wrong.

    Apparently a written warning is NOT DOING ANYTHING. It's a shame administration is not understanding that.

    I would honestly ask your admins if its okay to just take the food away from the student and throw it out. Or not allow the student into the classroom with any food--- maybe you could send the child down to the main office and let him hang out with admins? Perhaps they'll get sick of him doing that and actually do something.

    I really think you did the right thing--- your admins are not doing anything to help the situation and the student is actively defying you which is extremely wrong especially since you're a new teacher and students tend to do that type of action towards new educators.

    Demand that your admins actually come up with some solutions instead of this written statement nonsense--- document everything as well (so you can show that you have written him up a number of times).
     
  7. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    If my child was breaking the rules and a teacher sent me a video or a photo of it, I would be thanking the teacher. We let students get away with too much and parents sometimes need physical evidence to get that their child is not perfect and needs to stop doing certain actions.

    And what does it matter if the photo was taken on a cell phone? Would it have been more appropriate if it was taken on a camera instead?

    Students have actively gotten teachers in trouble by using their cell phones to take videos and photos of their teachers doing something wrong. Why not allow teachers be able to gather evidence the same way?
     
  8. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    I think that if the school has a no cell phone policy, you get a little sketchy if the teacher is using her cell phone....A camera would have been more appropriate in my eyes.
     
  9. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Many school have a no cell phone policy and I bet most of the schools that do do not enforce it. Plus usually that policy is for students, not necessarily the faculty and staff.

    I just don't see why the "tool" matters in this case. The student has repeatedly done something wrong, the teacher has followed policy with writing up the student, nothing has changed and the administration has not helped. She probably thought--- and I can't blame her for this-- that photo evidence (regardless of the tool) might allow the administration and this student's parents to step up and do something about the problem.
     
  10. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Generally, the only reason to use a camera for such purposes is when the student and or the parent is denying what happened. But it appears that the father was supportive of you and knew that the boy was bringing food. Was he?

    When I was a kid, and got in trouble at school, I didn't breath a word about it to anyone, let alone go running to an administrator. That's insane. It either speaks volumes about the kid, the parents, or your administration.

    I think tossing the food, no questions asked, is a good policy. Generally, kids like to keep that bag of hot cheetos and won't risk losing it over taking a bite or two during class.
     
  11. TiffanyL

    TiffanyL Cohort

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    Bioangel, you sound very angry/upset which was not my intention.

    In my opinion, a camera would have been better and more professional, but still not necessary. Taking a photo of him and sending it to dad implies that the teacher does not know what else to do. The teacher has given up and is now resorting to desperate measures rather than being able to control her class.

    I'm not saying that this is the case with this OP...I wasn't in the classroom. I'm just stating that this is what it would imply if it were to happen on my campus. It would signal to me that I need to support this teacher more in the area of classroom management.
     
  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I'd be really careful making demands of administrators, especially as a new teacher. Although new teachers should be given a little leeway to learn the ropes and whatnot of teaching, they are still professional educators who are expected to know how to do their jobs. If a teacher marched into the principal's office and began demanding that the principal start taking care of a classroom management problem, I don't think it would go over well. In my school, that would be a great way to find yourself on the admin's radar, which is not a place you want to be as a new teacher.

    I think a better solution would be to talk with a mentor teacher and well-respected colleagues, do some online investigating, and pick up a bunch of books about classroom management.
     
  13. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I have run into a number of those sorts of students, the ones who run to admin after they've done something wrong. In almost every case they either have a very, very strong-willed parent who will back them up no matter what, and/or are some sort of "pet" of the administrator. It's very frustrating to have to defend yourself and your actions (which were entirely on the up and up) because a kid didn't want to follow the rules.
     
  14. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Wow. I'm sorry you have had to deal with this-know that things like this even happen to experienced teachers. A mistake is made or a misunderstanding of policy.

    Was the issue that you took the pic with the cell phone or that you sent it to the father, or both? I send pictures to my parents all the time from class (I've never done it for management reasons or used my cell phone though). Our parents sign a blanket release in the beginning of the year. Some parents don't believe their child would ever be anything but an angel in class so I can see your reasoning behind the action.

    Anyway, I would definitely go into that meeting apologetic and it won't happen again, but I agree it seems like an odd thing to make such a big deal out of. And I have to agree with Sarge that the student would run to the admin and complain is surprising. What did he say, well, I was breaking the rules and eating in class, but the teacher took a picture of me so I shouldn't have a consequence?What a mess.
     
  15. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    I know one teacher at my school took a picture of one of her kindergarten students who was throwing a tantrum and destroying the classroom. She did this before (the student) but parents were in disbelief that their angel would ever do such a thing. So, the teacher (who's taught for ages and ages, a wonderful teacher) took the pictures. Parents were in shock, but appreciated the evidence and began working with their daughter to help her express her frustration in other ways.

    I also don't EXACTLY understand what the issue is. Is it that it was on a phone or that the picture was taken at all.
     
  16. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Taking a photo of a student with your cellphone is sketchy at best...threatening to send the photo home is not professional. You may defend yourself with the claim that you didn't understand the photo policy, but the way the 'snack infraction' was handled was a misguided abuse of the power you have as a teacher.:2cents:
     
  17. uncleal

    uncleal Rookie

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    Thank you for all the support

    Wow! I am so thankful for all of the support.

    I think it is ultimately about what I said after the incident. I had talked to VP later on and she told me not to stew about it this weekend. I said that the principal was the one who gave me authorization to take pictures of the student.

    I misinterpreted the principal and her answers and that is how I got into this situation. My mentor teacher says that I will probably get off with a written warning that will be on file but this should not be something to jeapordize my job.

    I have made a written statement that I will submit to my principal this week.

    BTW, the behavior is not eating in class. I wrote that to protect the student's anonymity. Still, it is a very annoying behavior that is disruptive in my classroom. I have told the student to stop verbally, given nonverbal signals and then I snapped the photo.
     
  18. uncleal

    uncleal Rookie

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    I agree. I will accept a written warning, but I pray that I shall keep my job still because this is a learning experience and I will learn from it.

     
  19. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    This is what was thinking, too.
    I hope you just get a warning, and I KNOW you will learn from the experience.
     
  20. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    I just emailed pictures out to parents after our Dr. Seuss day and after our day using the Van der Graaf machine. My principal knows I did it (one of my parents teaches at the school and she forwarded the picture to the principal to share). Nothing at all was said. We do have a permission form they sign at the beginning of the year, though.
     
  21. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Wow! I've used my cell phone many times to take pictures & have never had a problem. Sometimes, it was to take pictures of an activity in the classroom, on a field trip etc. Sometimes, to document a child's behavior or the result of a temper tantrum. (coloring on furniture, tearing up journal etc.) Those pictures that I used to document behavior were emailed to the AP.
     
  22. LUCHopefulTeach

    LUCHopefulTeach Habitué

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    :agreed:

    The fact that it was taken with a cell phone instead of a camera was inappropriate. A teacher shouldn't have a cell phone physically on his or her body when teaching.

    More so, if I was a parent and a teacher sent this to me I would be upset for various reasons. First, I would be upset with my child and talk to my child. Secondly, I would be upset with the teacher for wasting valuable class time to email me a picture from their cell phone as what... proof? It kind of seems like 'ah ha! I caught you and now I'm going to email it to your parents so they believe me and you get in trouble' which I view as immature.
     
  23. LUCHopefulTeach

    LUCHopefulTeach Habitué

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    Well that changes how the photo and situation could be inappropriate. I don't know what the behavior is but if it was a suggestive or offensive behavior than the act of taking the photo could be viewed as inappropriate because the image captured was inappropriate.
     
  24. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I understand why it is sketchy to use a cell phone to take pictures, but I think it is a shame teachers have such a valuable tool basically being "banned" - especially when students are able to take photos and videos with their phones without any comments being made about such activity being "inappropriate".

    I understand teachers are professional adults and kids are - well, kids - but it does seem like the teachers are having a hand tied behind their back.

    Last year, I had a student that took a personal dislike to me during my student teaching. He was disrespectful and disruptive every single day. It eventually led to a meeting with the student, parents, teachers and principal. Fortunately, I had full documentation of the things he had done in class.

    One incident involved a desk he defaced with ink from an pen. He broke the pen open and poured the black ink on the desk next to his, smearing it as he went. I didn't see him do it, but because I had assigned seats, I knew he was the only that could have done it during the time period in question. Of course, he flat-out lied to his parents about it when I gave them the documentation sheet. Fortunately, the parents have had problems of their own with him and didn't completely believe him. He eventually admitted to doing it, but he could easily have refused. Then it would have just been his word against mine. If I had seen him defacing the desk, I could have snapped a picture with my cellphone and then there would be NO discussion about whether he was the guilty party or not.

    Cameras are fairly cheap now and it would definitely been a wise investment for teachers to have in their room. It could provide much better documentation than any write-up.

    I think one reason there is still controversy about teachers taking pics of students in class is because, until the last decade or so, we really didn't have the technology available to take and record a photo instantly of something as it was happening in the room. ALL of our busses now have video cameras installed and whenever there is an incident on the bus, the first thing admin does is pull the tape and watch what happened for themselves. I think the same technology could and should be used in the classroom to protect teachers AND students.

    As for this particular incident, I think the others are correct that it should warrant no more than a mild warning. A verbal warning would be sufficient, especially if the parent was not upset by the photo, but the P may have to do a written letter for his file and for yours. I doubt it would go any farther than that, though.
     
  25. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I wouldn't be opposed to it. I see nothing wrong with getting photo documentation of students acting up. Since there is so much controversy when it comes to taking a photo of the incident, the next best thing would be to have a video camera in the room.

    I don't know how cost prohibitive it would be, however, and I'm sure many teachers would not be happy with the idea of being "observed" all the time.

    But this could be one tool used in improving teacher evaluations. One of the biggest complaints is that admin and parents don't see the job we do every day. If they could spend 1 or 2 days in our classrooms themselves, they would see how much work we actually do. Video cameras provide the perfect way to do that. Principals can literally see how their teachers act and conduct class every single day, so they would have a much better idea of the overall job and interaction being done by the teacher.
     
  26. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Let it go. The VP himself said not to stew about it. Don't make this into a mountain. Just say, "It won't happen again," and try not to make this into something where the principal feels the need to write you up.

    And I think some of you are being too harsh on her. I don't know what the real problem is that the kid was doing, but it doesn't hurt to have documentation. Everyone snaps pictures with their cell now instead of getting a camera.

    I wouldn't have sent it to the parent, though. But I might have if I were a first or second year teacher. It's a mistake. She already said she wouldn't do it again. I've made tons of mistakes that I wouldn't do again.

    Signed,
    Not perfect yet.
     
  27. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    As long as it's off, I have no issues with it. Mine lives in my purse. I check before I get out of the parking lot to ensure that it's turned off.
     
  28. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    I use my phone as an Ipod to play music in class. I've used it during my planning to look something up on Youtube or some other thing that's blocked by the school Internet. Typically, if I'm using it with students I put it on "airplane mode" so that it basically is just an Ipod. I don't get the big deal. When I'm not using it, it's on silent. I don't turn it off because I have family members who call and refuse to leave messages. If my phone was off, I'd never know that they called. I also make a lot of school-related phone calls, and those people call my phone instead of the office, because I only get down to check my box for messages twice a day.
     
  29. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    If that's school policy, then yes, I agree.

    But many teachers at our school use cell phones to communicate with parents. I don't carry mine, like Alice it's in my purse (it would take me the same amount of time to get my phone out as it would my camera and I don't always have my camera at school). I have 2 parents that will text me about how their student is getting home-whether or not they are riding the bus, etc. So I check it at lunchtime and at the end of the day.

    I also understand carrying it in case of emergency (as long as it's off)-we don't have phones in the classrooms. If there were an intruder in the building or something, I would call the front office from my cell phone.
     
  30. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I honestly don't see the difference between I'm going to e-mail your parent right now and tell them what you're doing and sending a photo. Like Cerek said it's "proof" of them breaking the rule in case the child denies it happened.
     
  31. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I don't 'email parents right now and tell them' what a child is doing either.
     
  32. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think sending a picture sends the message that I don't expect to be believed without the picture.

    I'm the adult and the teacher. I tell the dean if there's a major incident. I don't need proof. There's no "he said/she said." I make sure of my facts and I let the disciplinary process work.
     
  33. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I agree, Alice. Also, I doubt if you need administrative action or parent notification for managing most behaviors in your classroom.
     
  34. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    "Most"??-- no. At this point in my career, if I still needed help managing a typical class, I would be concerned.

    "Occasional"??? sure. :) It's one of the funny things about teaching: you can never assume that what worked yesterday will continue to work tomorrow.
     
  35. mom2ohc

    mom2ohc Habitué

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    for me, as a parent, I would NOT like the teacher taking a picture of my child with her personal cell phone. but at the beginning of the year when the school sends home a consent form, I ALWAYS say no. No pictures.
     
  36. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    That brings up an interesting point for those who think it's a good diea: what if the parent has signed that form? What's the backup plan in terms of classroom management? It seems kind of unfair that only some kids can get "caught in the act."
     
  37. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I've always viewed the photo permission as having consent to take pics for bulletin boards, slide shows, etc...never would I consider it carte Blanche for 'gotcha' type behavior management.
     
  38. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    I think it depends on your relationship with the parent. Often times I have parents who tell me that their kid is perfect and well behaved and does need any discipline. Well, a picture truly can be worth a thousand words, especially with some of the obscene things that some students do.

    On the other hand, I have some parents who are very hard on their child. Again, a picture can go a long way.

    Now, when you have administration that supports you and follows through and parents who trust you as an adult and teacher, then do you need this? Probably not!

    But when you have administration that just lets kids who get into a fight hang out in the office together, and just sends students back to class, plus parents who lie for their children--more might be needed.
     
  39. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    I respectfully disagree with some of the responses. I have sent parents pictures or shown them pictures during conferences. I don't do it to have them correct the behavior. It's my classroom and my job. I do, however, want them to see the behavior I'm talking about. Maybe the parents I deal with are different than some of you, but I have parents who will back their child no matter what. If their child says something happened or didn't happen, they believe them each time. Having the proof of a picture, test, paper, note, etc, just takes the "maybe" out of the situation and allows us to deal with the issue.
     
  40. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Well, I guess you are just a better teacher than I am.

    Sometimes I need support from a parent. I did it the other day when a child was consistently refusing to do his work, including a common assessment. I mean, not even a name on the paper-and this had been the trend for several days-he said he was bored and wasn't going to do any work. I took a minute and let the parent know. That parent e-mailed me back and asked for me to put the kid on the phone with them and I'll tell you what, I haven't had a single problem with him finishing his work since then. I don't think that's relinquishing my authority or abusing my power, I think it's using what I know will work with that child.

    We don't have much in the way of recourse-if a parent is going to support with a consequence at home-taking away the video games or the party he was going to go to that weekend, then I'm going to use that as part of my management plan.

    I had an actual bruise on my face from a student once, a whole class of students witnesses and because the student said he didn't hit me, the parent believed he didn't hit me. I think a picture of a child in action might change a conference from my baby's an angel to, oh, I guess he did do that.
     
  41. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Apr 3, 2011

    If a child hit me and left a bruise in front of a classroom of students, I would take a photo- of my face.

    I don't have an unsupportive administration nor do I often encounter parents who don't believe what a teacher says. Those types of parents tend to develop a 'reputation' anyway so it's no big surprise when those kinds of situations arise...year after year, teacher after teacher...sooner or later the chickens come home to roost eventually in those kinds of issues.

    I would call if I was hit by a student, if a student causes bodily harm to another, if there is bullying, if there is a repeated concern which I have already addressed in multiple ways...but snack? no wouldn't call for that...nor would I call for most classroom behavior blips. It's not about who is a better teacher...it's just different classroom management philosophy. I'm glad what you do works for your classroom, as how I handle classroom mgt works for my students and for me.
     

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