Push ups as punishment

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by waterfall, Aug 21, 2012.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Aug 21, 2012

    I hesitated to post this because it's so specific to my school (after the thread about anonymity) but I just can't hold it in! Is it just me, or is this one of the most ridiculous things you've ever heard?

    I have a student in my class who has severe behavior issues. She's on an IEP, takes meds, parents are extremely supportive of her behaving at school and all of my communications with them have been positive (in the sense that they support what I'm doing in class and recognize that the behavior is a problem). She runs out of class, throws things around, makes loud noises (occasionally escalates to shrieking), tears up her school supplies, etc. My P is adamant that behavior stays IN the classroom. I'm not allowed to send her to the office. I'm working with basically every specialist at school to come up with some things for her...

    Anyway, mom came in for a meeting with the P this morning. The P is new as well and has very different expectations and procedures than the last P, so she wanted to make that clear to mom that things would be a lot different from last year where the student was removed from the classroom pretty much daily. I was talking with the P before the meeting and one of my many concerns was that I have no consequence that this student really seems to care about.

    We have a lunch/recess and an "extra" afternoon recess. Kids that lose recess lose the second "extra" one so they still have the opportunity to move around in the first one. This student loses hers pretty much daily, but I was saying I honestly don't think she cares. Mom's advice was to make her do push ups during recess detention so that detention is a place she really does NOT want to be...and the P backed her up on this! She said it's fine because mom suggested it. Given that so far I can barely get her to sit in a chair, I'm pretty sure even if I didn't think it was totally absurd, she's not going to do push ups if I tell her to. I brought this up, and the P literally told me to "get down and scream in her face until she does them." Umm, what? I'm just not a yeller, for one. Two, the idea of screaming in a kid's face to tell them to do push ups is so absurd to me it's just laughable. I'm supposed to basically ignore her during the day so her behavior doesn't escalate in front of the other students, and then use this detention time when they're out of the room to "be really strict with her." What do you think?
     
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  3. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Aug 21, 2012

    I think that any physical activity used as a punishment counts as corporal punishment. I wouldn't do it.

    Why is the student losing her recess all the time? That consequence isn't working for her. I think you need to find another consequence and give her her recesses.
     
  4. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Aug 21, 2012

    Yeah I asked about the corporal punishment and they said it was legal if the parents approved.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I understand that. I would still be very hesitant about it. I personally wouldn't implement or enforce that kind of thing, legal or not. If the principal wants to enforce it with the parent's permission, then so be it, but I wouldn't be a party to it.
     
  6. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Aug 22, 2012

    Don't do it. Especially not with a kid with an IEP. It would be ok if you were in PE or an athletic coach if you used pushups with all the students. But you don't want to single a kid out for special punishments even if the parents tell you to do it. And, in my state, a kid with an IEP who takes Meds should not be held back from meal or snack breaks.
     
  7. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Aug 22, 2012

    There are SO many red flags in these paragraphs. I wouldn't be comfortable with any of these suggestions! I had a student like you are describing when I taught grade 6. He wouldn't have done the push ups even if I had 'screamed in his face' - but that's besides the point. I hate to be discouraging, but we didn't ever find a consequence he cared about and he didn't finish the school year with us. I teach in a fully inclusive environment but he was eventually removed from my classroom so the rest of the students could learn. It doesn't sound like that is an option either.... sorry... I guess I'm just here supporting you!
     
  8. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Aug 22, 2012

    I'd let the principal know that you're quite uncomfortable with the corporal punishment (I'd even maybe use those words); however, if he'd like, you'd send the student to the office and then he could have her do whatever negative consequence he wishes.

    If he insists that you make the student do push-ups, then I would advise you AGAINST ignoring his directive. Doing so, may get you written up for insubordination. That being said, you should possibly consult with your union (if you have one) on what your next step would be (e.g., filing a grievance?).

    And document EVERYTHING. If possible, have this conversation with your principal via email. This could help vs. any "hearsay" allegations.

    But no, even though I'm quite a strict teacher, I draw the line of "yelling in my student's face" and forcing him/her to do push-ups... even with the parents' blessings.
     
  9. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Aug 22, 2012

    I would not make her do push ups, no matter what my P or the parent said. I can just see something happening (an injury, perhaps) and it all falling back on you. Plus, what a wonderful way to make her associate physical activity with negativity....in today's society with a large percentage of obese children, that's the last thing we need to do!

    Instead of finding some punishment for her during this extra recess, the issue of WHY she's losing recess needs to be addressed. Has she been visited by a BCBA? Has she had an FBA? Has she been observed....by anyone? Her behavior in the classroom is not appropriate, and could be diminished or even extinguished with ABA techniques.
     
  10. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Aug 22, 2012

    I like the idea of push-ups ... for the parent and principal. While in the down position try to explain the concept "You get what you give". The student did not learn outrageous behavior which includes physical acts from reading a book. She learned from watching adults, mainly the parent. And now when she shows up to school, the so-called place where adults are supposed to be on top of their game, she gets more of the same. The principal has no place being anywhere near young people.
     
  11. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Aug 22, 2012

    I think push ups are fine. Sometimes I have my super hyperactive kid take a lap once around the school before she comes to my class. I think exercise is good for kids and they don't get enough!
     
  12. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Aug 22, 2012

    But you're not (hopefully) yelling at your students and forcing them to take laps when they don't want to. That's the problem I have with the OP's situation. The push ups are something undesirable, and if she refuses to do them, then her principal told her to "yell at her and make her do them". I have students who get up to take breaks, use fidgets, etc.....but it's THEIR choice to do it and it's seen as a way to expend energy and not as a punishment.
     
  13. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Aug 22, 2012

    Yep. Idea to use academics as punishment - writing sentences etc. - has come up many times on this site. Although most would agree push-ups are not pencil and paper academics put yourself in the place of a PE teacher who has spent a good portion of adulthood trying to motivate and teach effectively, cardiovascular fitness and strength training being part, only to find out your lesson is considered a punishment in someone else's class.
     
  14. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Aug 22, 2012

    Yeah, that's like being a math teacher and finding out that the art teacher makes her misbehavers complete multiplication facts. Forcing students to view a certain behavior as negative in one class and positive in another is just asking for trouble.
     
  15. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

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    Aug 22, 2012

    I think there's a very easy way to switch that around. Her missing her breaks and having to do push ups doesn't have to be a punishment.. you can just say "okay during your break today you need to do 10 pushups, 10 sit ups, and 10 jumping jacks" Then the next time do it again. Don't form it as a punishment, just as something to do. If she hates the exercises, she might shape up on her own. If she likes them, then great! At least she's burning off some energy!
     
  16. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 22, 2012

    OP...are you responsible for kids during the second recess? If so, who is supervising the other kids while you are managing this one kid's punishment?
    Has anyone ever looked at a child study team referral? A one on one aide?
     
  17. Lisabobisa

    Lisabobisa Comrade

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    Aug 22, 2012

    I had a boy who I worked with who would do push-ups after a tantrum to help calm down. I'd ask him, "Want to do push-ups?" and he'd get into push-up position and then we'd do them together. When he was done, he stopped, or if he didn't want to do them, he'd say no, and I'd use a different technique to help him deescalate. Maybe it could work for her, but I would only use it if she was a willing participant.
     
  18. novaguy1968

    novaguy1968 MS English Educator

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    Aug 22, 2012

    Wow! You are being put in a very tough postion. I don't envy you. I'm not teaching yet (in the process), so I don't have any advice for you, but I do hope the outcome for you is positive.
     
  19. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Aug 22, 2012

    I have her this week because I am in charge of recess detention this week. One teacher on our team stays in for detention and the other three go out with the kids. Next week, it would be a different teacher who has detention.

    She's already on an IEP for behavior. My district doesn't have a separate program for behavior students or even a separate classroom within a normal school building. When we were talking about what the main behavior problems were before school started the teachers were all agreeing that it was really just these "red zone" kids that in other districts would be in separate programs but our district believes they should be in gen ed.

    She's in sped for academics as well, it's just been tough these first few days because pull outs haven't started yet. Once they start, she'll had the sped teacher in my room with her in the morning and then pulled out for an hour at the end of the day. I am documenting everything so that we can "get her the help she needs" in my P's words, which I guess would mean an aide since there is no program for her to go to. She's done this same thing every year but this is a new P, in the past she's just been removed from the classroom after she escalated up to a certain point. Mom wants her to be in gen ed all day with no para, so that's an obstacle too.

    Like I said in the first post, I am already working with basically every specialist we have in the building to come up with some stuff for her.
     
  20. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Exactly. One attribute of primitive discipline is the extraordinary amount of time school personnel devote to planning punishment in relation to the amount of time devoted to preventing it in the first place. As some teachers have suggested they look at this type of problem and ask, "What can I do to prevent the hyper type problem?" Some start their class with some sort of physical warm-up - to let out some energy. They have a plan.

    What seems to be the underlying problem is administration wants teachers to handle the problems and teachers want help from administration. One could call it discipline by mandate. Too bad administration doesn't offer real, on-going discipline training so teachers (and ad') can develop new skills, firm old ones and support each other versus the hot potato approach.
     
  21. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Obviously, as I've said multiple times now, we already have tons and tons of things in place for her and every specialist in the building is working on it. That's not what the post was about. No one is thinking that a kid as crazy is this is going to respond to no other strategy than missing recess.
     
  22. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Aug 23, 2012

    I thought the main point of the post was regarding a meeting between several professionals and a parent at which a strategy, missing recess and doing push-ups, was discussed and promoted by the principal. Then the principal suggested "screaming at her" as a strategy if student refused. In addition, it was recommended to "ignore her" during class then dole out punishment later at recess as a consequence. Then you asked, "What do you think?" If no one is thinking a strategy like missing recess is the only solution why was it the only solution offered up at the meeting? I'm confused.
     
  23. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    Aug 23, 2012

    I would talk to the SpecEd team. What can they do for her? Or will do for her when they start seeing students? Will that help?

    One year I had a child with behavior issues. He was a chair flipper among other things. I did several things for him: I built him his own special area. . . paper chains hung from the ceiling. He could go in there to be "alone" but I could still see him. It was a great place for him to "cool" off in. The chains actually stayed up for about 5mos. before he started pulling them down. He ran errands for me, the errand may be delivering the 1st object I saw to another teacher, or a note. One of the best things was a mini-trampoline, especially in the winter when we couldn't go out. He would jump on it for a bit. To make it not seem like a punishment everyone, would get a chance. Maybe jump on the trampoline while thinking about the answer to a question: What is 6 x 6? They could jump as they say the problem/answer. Those are just a couple of things that I have tried when I needed to keep a child in the room.

    Good luck!
     
  24. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Aug 23, 2012

    I've seen all of these activities used as "punishment" and, frankly, I see no problem with it.

    Doing push-ups is exercise and is actually beneficial for the student. Whether they enjoy doing the push-ups or not is really irrelevant. Most students probably don't like doing them in PE either, but they still have to do them because it is part of the physical standards that have to be met. While it would be great if the kids suddenly decided they really enjoyed doing push-ups, chances are that isn't going to happen, no matter what, but we don't suggest the PE teacher find a different activity that might make them like physical exercise more.

    As a math teacher, I would have no problem with the art teacher making kids write multiplication facts or multiplication tables as a consequence for misbehaving. No, the kids probably won't like doing it - but that's kind of the point of a "consequence" in the first place. Whether the kid LIKES doing the tables or not, (s)he WILL become better at multiplication from the repetition of writing them down several times. I've seen gen ed teachers (including math teachers) use this punishment - often completed while the student is also placed in "Silent Lunch". Gives them something to do since they can't talk to their friends anyway.

    Same thing with repetitive writing. I am not persuaded by the hypothetical argument that "if they don't like writing to begin with, they will like it even less when it is a punishment". No. Most likely they aren't going to suddenly develop a love of writing if they have always hated it. If a teacher does come up with a wonderful activity that "clicks" with the kid and gets them excited about writing, then doing repetitive writing as a consequence in a different class will not eliminate that enthusiasm, especially if the amount of writing is relatively short. Just like multiplication tables, it will force them to practice proper sentence structure and grammar, which will only improve their writing skill in the end.

    I don't use repetitive writing very often, but when I do, I prefer to make it relevant to the action. I found a page long script for students to write dealing with either "Respect" or "Talking". When a student shows disrespect or disrupts the class with talking out of turn, I've had them copy the appropriate script which not only addresses the specific action they did, but also explains WHY that action was inappropriate and unacceptable in the classroom setting.

    I would also would not be so quick to label a form of exercise as "corporal punishment", because then the kid(s) can claim the exercise in PE is also "corporal punishment" and refuse to participate.
     
  25. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Aug 23, 2012

    Getting back to the OP situation: If mom suggested having her do push-ups, it's possible that is a consequence she has used at home. You may want to call the mom, ask about that and also ask how willing the girl was to comply with the consequence. If mom says the girl knows that is one consequence of her behavior and will do it when told to, then I think it is a viable option because it does help release some of her extra energy.

    However, I agree with the others that you should NOT "yell in her face" if she refuses. That is not going to work and can only lead to trouble for you. If the P insists, then perhaps the P should be the one to enforce it.

    I truly am sorry you are having to deal with this very difficult situation, waterfall. I can only imagine the amount of stress and frustration you are dealing with every day. I hope you and the team eventually find a strategy (or combination of strategies) that will work for the girl so that all of each day becomes easier for everyone involved.
     
  26. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Aug 23, 2012

    As I've said four times now, we have TONS of things in place for her. I said that in the op and every post since...every specialist is working on it, etc. This kid takes up more time of my day than anything else because I have to keep track of so many charts, incentives, phone calls home, "strikes", modified work, make an "if I...then I can..."chart for EVERY activity, documentation and other behavior things for her. The point of the post was the fact that I thought this ONE thing of telling a kid to do push ups and then yelling in her face when she doesn't do them was completely ridiculous. Personally, I find the thought that we/I hadn't bothered to try anything else, look into why she was doing the behavior,or thought someone that was completing off the wall was going to be okay with just missing recess pretty insulting.
     
  27. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Aug 24, 2012

    I never said you hadn't bothered to try anything else. Evidently I didn't make myself clear regarding the principal (and parent) suggesting a strategy that in some states is considered corporal punishment. It is quite evident in your OP and others all kinds of strategies have been tried and in motion by you and in collaboration with colleagues.

    In any event, sorry if I caused you discomfort.
     
  28. lakepaduski

    lakepaduski Rookie

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    I don't agree with push ups. I think the goal is to encourage students to use their minds. I would not scream at a student in recess to drop down and give me 10. If it was soccer or sports, I would have a different answer. Hoo-yah! is for the Navy not sophomores.
     
  29. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Oct 7, 2012

    Your P is wrong here. I wouldn't do it. Yelling is not a good form of punishment or are push ups. Much better choices out there.
     

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