Moral Dilemma...

Discussion in 'General Education' started by StudentTeach, Apr 26, 2011.

  1. StudentTeach

    StudentTeach Comrade

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    Apr 26, 2011

    My classes and I have been celebrating Poetry Month since the start of April. Students each signed up for a day to bring in poems to read and discuss and I promised them that the last day of poetry (this Thursday) we would have Dunkin Donuts and celebrate.

    Today I was observed for the first time and one of my classes acted very immaturely. They did things they KNOW they are not supposed to do: take out their cell phones and ask the AP if she wants to look at pictures in the middle of the lesson or throw pens across the room after I tell them to stand up and walk it to the person.

    I've promised this DD celebration since the first day in April and I don't want to go against my word, but I REALLY am not in the mood to throw them a party when they clearly didn't show that they deserve it. I'm afraid to go back on my word because they will think I don't mean what I say.

    What would you do in this situation?
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Apr 26, 2011

    Tell them you intend to keep your promise but that right now you are so disappointed that you can't even bring yourself to bring in the snack. When you see improvement, you will bring the snack. Truthfully, I'd be more concerned about the observation write up than the snack.
     
  4. LUCHopefulTeach

    LUCHopefulTeach Habitué

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    Apr 26, 2011

    Keep your promise. Yes, they were inappropriate however, they are children and you're an adult. They need you to be consistent. They need you to keep your promises. They need to know they could rely on you. I think that going back on your promise or changing it would only worsen the relationship with your students.
     
  5. StudentTeach

    StudentTeach Comrade

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    Honestly I've been feeling upset about how the observation write up will be (I haven't debriefed with the AP yet), but I also know that at this point I have no control over that I only have control over what happens in my next class. I'm conflicted about what I should do.
     
  6. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Can't their consequence for the bad behavior have nothing to do with the party? I'm not a parent, but here's what I immediately thought of - if you had a child of your own who misbehaved horribly a few days before his birthday party, you wouldn't cancel the party. You may, however, take away his TV/video game privileges for the days leading up to the party. haha kind of a silly example, but I think it you can probably see the premise...:)
     
  7. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    I agree with czacza, however, during observations if the class acts up and you handle the situation as your administration (or district) wants you to, it is possible to get a higher score than if the class is running smoothly. Well, at least in my district. I found this out my first year of teaching when a student put a desk with a built in chair around his body and couldn't get out of it!!! The whole class went nuts, but I had just been to training by the district and followed the guidelines and it was one of my highest observations. Also, I hate observations, hate,hate,hate them. Come in and visit, drop by, but don't come in with pen and form in hand, act like you don't know me, sit in the back of the room....cause I get stage fright:( I know it's part of the job but I hate it.
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Apr 26, 2011

    Go in tomorrow, and talk about it.

    Ask THEM what they think you should do. Let them know why there was someone in the back observing, what it means to you in terms of your student teaching grade, in terms of possible letters of recomendation that might make a difference in finding a job next year, and ask whether they think you have cause to celebrate right now.

    Don't lay it on TOO thick, but let them know that THEIR actionos have consequences for YOU. Use it as a teachable moment.

    Then ask whether they stil think you should stop at Dunkin Donuts Thursday.
     
  9. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Apr 26, 2011

    I like this idea.

    If not this, I would keep the two separate.
     
  10. StudentTeach

    StudentTeach Comrade

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    Apr 26, 2011

    I do really like that idea, but we don't have class again until Thursday (class meets every other day). I still think I can have a similar conversation, though.

    FYI, I made my username while I was a student teacher, so I know it's misleading, but I finished up last May and this is my first part time job :)
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Apr 26, 2011

    Oops, sorry.
     
  12. StudentTeach

    StudentTeach Comrade

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    Apr 26, 2011

    It's okay :)
     
  13. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I would postpone the Donuts. Privledges can be taken away. This is a situation where it seems to me that they lost that chance for now. If they can prove that it was a fluke situation and show they deserve it, then they will get it. Its not a matter of keeping promises, its a matter of getting what is earned. I have taken away things that I have promised before, sometimes they can earn it back, sometimes they cant.
     
  14. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Apr 27, 2011

    Here's a similar situation with adults that may help illustrate why it can be important to keep situations distinct:

    Imagine a teacher gets suspended on May 15th for bringing her pet walrus to school. She gets suspended without pay for 2 weeks, and on the principal also decides that the teacher won't be allowed to receive her paycheck for the 1st-14th either because the teacher "lost the chance" to get paid because of her behavior.

    Imagine the feelings of resentment that the teacher might feel. The teacher knows she shouldn't have brought her pet walrus, and accepts the punishment of 2 weeks of unpaid suspension. However, she is resentful because she performed her duties without issue from the 1st-14th. The withholding of pay for that time period is beyond the scope of the behavior - the punishment not only doesn't fit the crime, but the teacher is being punished for the time period during which she was actually good.

    Generally, it is best practice to let kids keep what they have earned once they've earned it. If bad behavior arises, a punishment can be given for that occurrence, but the original reward should still stand. The rationale for this is that when teachers give and take away unassociated rewards, they start to see reward/punishment as being more related to the whims/preferences of the adult giving them, rather than related to their own behavior. The adult becomes increasingly seen as unfair, inconsistent, and arbitrary, and kids see their actions/behaviors as increasingly irrelevant and disconnected to the rewards/punishments, as those rewards/punishments can be altered based on things unrelated to the behavior for which they were originally specified.
     
  15. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Apr 27, 2011

    :yeahthat:

    EdEd, you truly have a way with words!! I love how you explained this!! I knew I had a leaning toward this viewpoint, but I didn't know how to express it. :)
     
  16. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Apr 27, 2011

    Thanks yellowdaisies!
     
  17. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Apr 27, 2011

    Did the students do as you asked for poetry month? If so, I think you should follow through with the reward that you set up. But instead, give them a different consequence. Many students do act up when their is a new person in the room (AP for example). You may want to have them write letters to the AP for their behavior or have a conversation before their celebration.
     
  18. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Apr 27, 2011

    I'm still a little on the fence with this one.

    I like EdEd's explanation of why the events should be kept separate, however, in his example, he is punishing the teacher two distinct punishments. So far, your kids have received no punishment for their behavior, so the two examples aren't exactly the same.

    A poster mentioned earlier that a parent wouldn't cancel their child's birthday party if they acted out a few days before. I agree. Birthdays should not be messed with. However, if I had a special trip or activity planned - like going to a movie or amusement park - that is a different issue. If I promised my boys we would do a special activity and then they acted out in public a few days before, there is a good chance the activity or trip would be cancelled as a consequence for their actions.

    Still, I think the BEST option IS to put the burden on the kids themselves. Make them discuss, in class, why their actions were wrong and offer their own suggestions about what consequences they should receive. This not only takes the moral dilemma from you, it gives them the ownership and responsibility EdEd is describing for the situation as well.
     
  19. Dynamite Boys

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    Apr 27, 2011

    I understand what some of the other posters are saying, but I somewhat disagree. Donuts and a party are a privilege, not a right. I know with my own children if I promised donuts one morning and they didn't behave - the donuts would be lost. They can have cereal instead.

    I do agree that the best idea is to talk with the students and get their feelings. Maybe even have them talk about how their actions affected the class environment, the students around them and you. However, I do not believe there is anything wrong with postponing the party for a week either. Maybe I'm misunderstanding the problem, but I feel rewarding students when they misbehave sends the wrong message.
     
  20. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I'll go one further, I don't understand at all.

    The issue here is respect. For students to purposely act out in the face of an observer is a blatant sign of disrespect. Keep in mind, this is high school - we're not talking about 8 year olds. These kids knew what they were doing.

    To make another analogy that really doesn't fit, imagine yourself with a police officer. He has pulled you over for speeding. You treat him nicely, admit fault, and he decides to let you on your way. As he turns around you laugh maniacally. This is not illegal. You are free to laugh all you want. However, the officer could (and likely would) turn back around and give you the ticket for speeding.

    Disrespect, even if unintentional, is a massive problem in our society today, especially among the youth. Ask anyone who has had to manage them in a work setting. Kids need to know that disrespect has consequences. They need to know that they hurt you and you see no reason why you should now go out of your way to reward them.

    I too have no problem with having the party later if they prove they learned something but to do so now would only leave you angry and them empowered to repeat their actions.
     
  21. StudentTeach

    StudentTeach Comrade

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    Apr 27, 2011

    I've had time to sleep on the issue and read the rest of your posts -- thanks to everyone who responded, I really appreciate you all taking the time to weigh in!

    The students ultimately had done all of the poetry requirements that I had asked in order for them to earn a party.

    Several students were misbehaving, but not the entire class, so I would feel badly punishing everyone.

    I want to make them write something along the lines of, "why it is important to be respectful," because I can't really think of another way for them to really reflect on this, but I don't know when I would ask them to do it. Writing before the snacks would put a damper on the whole thing; waiting until Monday (our next class after Thursday) would be too far removed from the incident. Thoughts?
     
  22. Mathemagician

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    Apr 27, 2011

    For homework? It can be due on Monday, or they can email it to you over the weekend? Require that the writing be in poetry form too to go with the theme of the month.
     
  23. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Those students who were misbehaving could write their reflections BEFORE they can participate in the party. Could they go to another room? Or the back of the room? The rest, can have their party. When the written reflection is completed, to your satisfaction and maybe even delivered to the AP, then they can have the party.

    Actions have consequences and rewards.
     
  24. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    Kpa... I agree. But I also like the respect in a poem form assignment... would be good for everyone to work on over the weekend.

    I know when I subbed we would work on getting a recess & sometimes it wasn't everyone, but you also need to show that sometimes it only takes a few to have a an impact on many. Also, that sometimes the "reverse peer pressure" is our as teacher's best friends. As my neighbor who taught told me when her own children at home did not want to her to help with homework... sometimes someone closer or their age have more of an impact!!!
     
  25. StudentTeach

    StudentTeach Comrade

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    Hmm... I'm liking these ideas. When the students come in to class the first thing they do is take out their journals and respond to a journal assignment or free-write for about five minutes. I could have the "journal response" to be to write about what respect looks like, in a poem form. ;)
     
  26. 2ndTimeAround

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    There's no way I'd take in donuts for a group of kids that were so disrespectful to me. No way.

    Of course you didn't tell the students that your promise was contingent on them behaving during an observation. You just assumed that they would do as expected. Should you outline every possible offense before making a promise?

    And to the previous poster - I am a mother. And you better believe that I would (and have) cancel a birthday party based on behavior preceding that party. It would (and was) have to be a pretty big offense, but it would be done.

    I really believe in natural consequences. But I can stretch any situation to make the natural consequence fit my idea of proper punishment ;)

    For me, the natural consequence in this situation is that the teacher does not feel respected enough to spend her own money on a reward for the class. People naturally do not go out of their way to give to people who harm them. They had the potential and obviously the intent, to harm you during your observation.
     
  27. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    It may not consistently happen, but one thing that can happen is that a cycle may start - kids disrespect adults, so adult disrespects kids back by cancelling an unrelated reward. Then, kids disrespect adult because of cancelled punishment, etc.

    For a one time occurrence or even minor occurrences, I don't see this as being a big deal, but I have seen enduring power struggles develop because of the inappropriate use of consequences.

    In this particular situation, I don't see it as being a big deal.
     
  28. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    I would turn on all the guilt of a mother before I gave the students the donuts. I would go in and say very soberly, "You know, today, I brought you the donuts like I promised because I care about you and keeping my word is important to me. But you guys really upset me on X day when I was observed. I was heart broken by the level of disrespect by a few of you. You see me every day working with you, helping you and respecting you. Here I am today with a special treat for you because you are important to me... and yet you hurt me deeply. It made me sad. I thought we had a better relationship than that... But we're going to move past that now and enjoy our donuts and have a celebration of all of the wonderful things you've done in our poetry unit. Your work was really outstanding, and I'm very proud of you for the effort you made."

    But I'm the queen of guilt... just ask my daughter. LOL.
     
  29. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I think not giving the donuts is a perfect life lesson. It isn't like the teacher is pulling a field trip where the kids had to raise funds throughout the year.

    And I wouldn't pussyfoot around it either. I'd show them how shocked I was if they expected to get the donuts still. "You what? You want me to STILL bring in donuts? You want me to spend my OWN MONEY on you after you did what you did to me?" I do a lot for my students but I won't reward their bad behavior. No matter how you spin it, those kids that were that crazy to think they could get away with their behavior would totally see the donuts as proof that they could get away with something.
     
  30. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I wouldn't bring in doughnuts on that period since you haven't seen them since their performance. Maybe at a later date after the behavior has been discussed or I'd do like band said and lay the guilt on thick before passing out the doughnuts. I don't like breaking my word either, but I also tell my class that I don't spend my own personal money on children who are disrespectful to me.
     
  31. queenie

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    I wouldn't use mass punishment. I'm sure there are some students who didn't participate in the immature behavior :confused: I'd limit any kind of "punishment" to the ones who got out their cell phones and threw the pencil, etc.
     
  32. queenie

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    I'm liking this suggestion!
     
  33. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    You could always bring students for the students who did not cause problems. Let them eat the donuts while the other students watched. That type of action usually has an impact on the students.
    Oh and make sure you eat a donut or two with those well behaved kids as well.
     
  34. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    You're worried about putting a "damper" on the party???

    HELLOOOOO! Their lucky their getting the party at ALL after their blatant disrespect.

    When they come in on Thursday, I would make them write the poem on respect with an emphasis on why it is important in a civilized society and what damage can be done to that society when respect is not shown. IF - and ONLY if - these poems met my strict standard of acceptance (by reflecting the appropriate amount of acknowledgment and responsibility for consequences), then I might bring the donuts the following week. If they don't like that arrangement? BOO - FREAKIN - HOO. Build a bridge and get over it.

    While they did "earn" a reward, they did so by doing what is expected of them anyway - class assignments. That is the same as a boss promising an office party if the staff meets production requirements, then having several staff members act like fools when the Corporate President drops in for a visit. Do you really think the office boss is going to say "Well, since you did meet production requirements (which is part of your JOB anyway), we'll still have that office party, but now we're going to have to deal with your behavior in front of the President too - but we'll do that after the party."

    BZZZZZZZZ!!!! Wrong Answer, but thank you for playing. Johnny has a nice consolation prize and crisp slip of pink paper for you to sign on your way out.

    Ok...ok....maybe that is a little over the top on the Snarkiness Scale. :rolleyes:

    On a more serious note, I would give them the new assignment on Thursday (to be completed in class) - write a reflection on the importance of respect and self-discipline in one of the poetic forms we have studied this month. This new assignment - and the suspension of the donut party - is the consequence of the actions taken during the AP's visit.

    After I read the poems this weekend and do my own reflections on what is written, I will decide if I should continue with the party or not.
     
  35. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    That sounds perfect to me Cerek. Spot on I say.
     
  36. Kindergarten31

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    I pretty much agree with Cerek. Kindergarten and high school are at the extreme ends-I just have to tell my class that I am so sad and how disappointed in them I am, and they cry. But if they did something similar, I would at least postphone the donut party.
     
  37. StudentTeach

    StudentTeach Comrade

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    As I bought the treats this morning for my first class I ended up buying enough for both. I reflected pretty much all day about what I was going to do and ended up doing this: When the students came in and began their journal it was to write a ten line poem called, "What Respect Looks Like." Some of the students shared their poems and we had a discussion about respect and courtesy and why it's important. I let them know that I was disappointed with their behavior on Tuesday and why it's important to drop these time-consuming habits. I put it on thick about how the younger students look to them on how to behave and if they are disrespectful the other kids think that's how they should treat people. The discussion ended with them signing a sheet of all of our class rules stating if they engage in these behaviors I will take one point off every time. If they have three points deducted it's an automatic detention. I concluded by letting them know I was conflicted about spending my own money on them when I was feeling disrespected and the students genuinely looked ashamed of themselves -- I talked for about fifteen minutes and it was dead silent the entire time. I brought out the treats and told them because of their hard work with poetry and that most students were doing what they needed to that we would still celebrate and we would move on from this but their behaviors did not go unnoticed. The rest of class went very well and I had a good time teaching and discussing with them. I know some people will disagree with how I handled it, but I really tried to think of the route that would cause the least amount of damage with my relationship with the students and influence the most change. The students seemed to respect the fact that I kept my word even though I was angry and that I won't allow them to push me over the next two months of school. Everyone's responses here were very helpful!
     
  38. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    I believe the way you handled it was stellar. Punishments are not always the best way to handle misbehaviors. Most times it doesn't teach the lesson you want it to teach. What it does teach is resentment, particularly when the "treat" denied was for something completely different or the punishment was left for much later. :thumb:
     
  39. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Sounds like you did a great job StudentTeach! You gave thoughtful consideration to it, had the students engaged in thinking about their behavior, and managed to still deliver the reward and celebrate the good times. Congrats!
     
  40. bondo

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    Take away the party. There has to be consequences for actions. In real life, one person can screw it up for many and many can screw it up for one. As long as you explain the whole situation and your reasoning then they should understand.
    You may want to give them the option to earn back the party by behaving well. They have to change in order to be able to get the party back.
     
  41. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Apr 29, 2011

    Good job, StudentTeach!
     

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