Was I in the wrong?

Discussion in 'Behavior Management' started by allaragallagher, Jan 20, 2017.

  1. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Jan 20, 2017

    Sorry this is so long.

    My principal ripped me a new one today as I was about to leave. While he was out of district, I assigned three detentions to three different boys. It was easy enough. After we finished class, I asked them to stay after and read off a list of things they'd done. I told them this was a warning and if they behaved like that again in my class, they would be the ones calling home to read whatever I wrote down that they did. Two out of the three admitted wrong-doing, signed the slip, and asked to serve their detentions immediately. The third agreed to the detention but hadn't served it yet. (This is a new elective that started last week, by the way.)

    My principal got back today and I knew he would approach me about this because I don't usually write a lot of detentions and, lately, I have been. We all have been. The kids, especially a select number of boys, have just been ridiculously disruptive and/or disrespectful. We're free to write detentions as we see fit so long as we have the kids in our room (we can't assign detention and then have a coworker cover it.) After this kid got a different detention last week in one of my other classes , my principal floated the idea that if he was good on a Thursday and Friday, I should rip up the detention. The kid was good, so I did. Anyway, he doesn't ask about why or anything, he just mentions the last kid wants to serve it today after school. No problemo.

    My prep. period rolls around and the kid shows up (again, it's midterms) begging to do anything to get a passing grade. He has a 68 and in my district a 70 is a D-. I tell him if he sits down right now and writes a five paragraph essay convincing me why I should bump him those two points, I'll consider it. We go next door to the class he is supposed to be in and get the all clear for him to come in and make up his grade. The kid sits for an hour in a desk with no distractions and cranks out a relatively insightful paper about how he used to enjoy school in sixth grade, and he doesn't know why he's lost that love. That he doesn't have any missing assignments in my class, it's just that he scores poorly on tests and he could do better (show more effort) on assignments.

    At the end of the day, the same kid comes to me to serve his twenty minute detention. I tell him why I consider us square and send him on his way. What would he gain by sitting at a desk staring at a whiteboard for twenty minutes while I pack my stuff and then stare at the clock waiting to go home? Well, before I can go home on what has been a pretty great a Friday overall, my principal finds me and starts chewing me out.

    What was I thinking? I just rewarded that kid. He got out of a detention and raised his grade from failing in one day. I just let him spit in my face. He's probably down there bragging right now. I look like a pushover. My classroom management has really taken a dive lately.

    I say that I'm sorry, I thought it was fair. I didn't realize I was in the wrong. I had forgiven detentions before (hello, you just had me forgive one last week?) Since the kid was in the building, did he want me to march down and tell him I was mistaken and he needed to come do the twenty minutes now?

    No. Too late for that. The damage is done. You've just made it that much more difficult for anyone to assign him a detention because now he thinks they aren't enforced.

    Sorry again? I honestly didn't think it was that big of a deal. The kids original detention was a formality because I wanted documentation that he'd been warned I would have him call his parents next time. He did great today. Then he came in to do extra work and I thought that would suffice.

    Oh, he was pissed. He left fuming. A coworker peeked his head in to see if I was okay.

    You see, I feel like even if I was in the wrong to let the kid off the hook, my principal should have politely said something more along the lines of: hey, I just saw you let X out early. In the future, I would really prefer it if when you assign a detention, the student do the full punishment regardless of any positive improvements that occur afterwards, okay? Have a good weekend.

    Message would have been received loud and clear without anyone getting upset. Instead, I went home crying. I didn't cry in front of him. I tried to make it more of a conversation than a lecture: Oh, I see. Yes, it does make sense that since he's been getting so many detentions lately, maybe I shouldn't have been lenient with him. I was mistaken. I'll keep that in mind next time. It won't happen again.

    Is it just the millennial in me?

    Thanks for listening to my rant.
     
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  3. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Jan 21, 2017

    I'm sorry that bully attacked you.

    At my stage in life (ready and willing to retire), I think I would have stood up to him and demanded he treat me respectfully or he can carry on that tirade to an empty room.

    However, most people are not at a point that they can risk their job by speaking up to an irate administrator. So, you did the best you could with an impossible situation. At least you will probably never cancel a detention again.
     
  4. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Jan 21, 2017

    Thanks. This obviously isn't the first incident. I'm really close to quitting after this year (year three), even if I don't have another job lined up. This place has a high turn over rate and now I know why. I've had four SS teachers next door since I started and two ELA teachers down the hall.

    One SS teacher left after my first year, the next was fired half way through my second, and a long term sub finished the year with a new hire starting fresh this year. I was the fourth ELA teacher in a row for my students when I started. One had quit in October, the next in December, and a long term sub finished the year out. Since then I've worked with three ELA teachers down the hall. One quit end of year two for me, and the new hire quit in December, so we have a long term sub finishing out the year.

    See a pattern? I seem to be the only idiot staying. I wish I could say it was because of the kids because I see what this does to them. They don't trust adults at all because they think we are all going to leave so they treat us like crap because they know we will bail on them first chance we get anyway. I'm only here because there are no open positions nearby and I don't want to move again.
     
  5. Secondary Teach

    Secondary Teach Companion

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    Jan 21, 2017

    I would report his behavior to the district administrators, or someone in human resources where you can report grievances to. I've never worked in the public school or charter system, I'm in a catholic school but I'm sure there's someone you can report this too. If you're afraid your job would be on the line, I would recommend waiting to file your grievance or reporting his misbehavior until you've accepted another position. In your report, do include your thoughts on how you feel his misbehavior is affecting the students and their achievement at the school. But frankly, I'd probably just tell him off and then quit on the spot afterwards.
    :)
     
  6. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Jan 22, 2017

    It's tempting.
     
  7. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jan 22, 2017

    While I personally would rarely excuse a detention for good behavior (my stance is the bad behavior happened and a consequence must always be served, and good behavior is expected, so the detention still stands), the principal needs to defer to your decision making in this matter and his behavior is outrageous. He treated you very unprofessionally. You have every right to determine what is an appropriate consequence in your classroom, or whether a consequence is even needed.
     
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  8. Education4all

    Education4all Rookie

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    Jan 22, 2017

    Your principal is 100% right! His delivery could have been better. I would be delighted to work for a principal like that to be quite honest.

    You may view your actions in the short term as harmless, but in the long-term you have taught that student a lesson that will only hinder them in the real world. We as teachers in this day need to be focused on teaching students responsibility and accountability not entitlement.
     
  9. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Jan 22, 2017

    I agree. However, I also agree with what you said here:
    The above statement would have been much more professional. I'm sorry you were bullied in that way! I'm not sure whether there's much that you can do about it, though. If you feel you have a discreet way of reporting this, I would, but otherwise maybe just consider transferring next year if you're unhappy and you think this method of leadership will continue.

    Right or wrong, I would have gone home and cried too! It does not excuse it, but there is a possibility that your principal was having a bad day and let it out in an inappropriate way. There have been times when I've felt that was the case by my admin too, not necessarily at me, but in their interactions in general. I got back a quite rude email one day after what I considered a standard question. I asked my husband, and he felt it was a fair question too, but the answer made me feel like I was stupid for asking. I figured, maybe that person had just had one too many emails to respond to that day. If interactions like that keep happening, I wouldn't blame someone at all for leaving. Work atmosphere matters a lot.
     
  10. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jan 22, 2017

    I would never want to work for a principal who yells at me like I'm a kid. We're adults, and professionals, and this job can already be stressful enough, let alone having the fear of a bully who holds your job in his hands.

    I think the P had a point, but it wasn't like permanent damage was done. Al the teacher has to do next time is assign a detention and keep it, and bam "damage" is undone. No matter what, no one should be yelled at.

    Once, in a non-teaching job, I had a boss who would yell and bully, and by the end I was making stupid mistakes because she messed with my head so much, that I was in fear, and second guessed myself and made bad decisions out of fear that my other decisions weren't good enough. Back then I didn't know what was happening, and didn't know how to stand up for myself. never again.
     
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  11. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Jan 22, 2017

    I have major issues with being talked to like a child. We've had a lot of changes happen this year, some good, some bad, but the few times I've left school super upset have been after a professional development day when I've felt we were all talked to as if we were children or didn't know what we were doing. I can weather through just about anything, but once I feel like I'm being talked down to, I'm done. I think that sometimes principals who used to be teachers forget they're talking to a room full of competent adults, not students.
     
  12. allaragallagher

    allaragallagher Comrade

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    Jan 22, 2017

    Well, like I said, I think he could have handled it differently. It might be the millennial in me but I'm not willing to invest in a place or boss that treats me like that. This is my third year and I know forgiving one detention half way through the year is not going to ruin the rest of my year with the students, but it does have the potential to make think twice about getting my admin involved again. In the future, we will just be making phone calls home or eating lunch in my room. I don't need to assign detentions to do either. As for his accusations, I trust my coworkers can handle their own classrooms and if the kid tries to pull a: "Ms. X let me serve my detention at a different time" or "Ms. X let me out early," they'll respond: "I'm not Ms. X, am I?"
     
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  13. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Jan 23, 2017

    If we do something that my principal doesn't agree with, she tells us, "going forward, I would prefer you do xyz". She told us that we will never be berated and that everything is a learning experience. Yeah, sounds like that guy you dealt with is a bully.
     
  14. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Feb 16, 2017

    I do not see anything wrong with the way you handled that. Moving forward, this student will remember that when he did what he was supposed to, he was rewarded by getting out of detention early and will think twice about misbehaving. I have a real problem with being yelled at by 'professionals'. I am a professional and should be treated like one. They are a one too and they get the same respect. You get more of someone when you treat them with respect than by belittling them and yelling at them.
     
  15. Jerry Dill

    Jerry Dill Companion

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    Feb 19, 2017

    I am a bit lax like you, and I am not sure whether it is a benefit or a liability in dealing with my students. At my school, we have a policy that students with a grade of "C" or below must attend tutoring after school a couple days a week. I sometimes let students go home as long as they promise me to write the overdue homework essays or they do some of the overdue homework in the tutoring class. I think some of the students regard me as fair as a result, and they are more likely to keep motivated in my class. But I do think some students are not changing their habits sufficiently, and by letting them go home early, I am merely kicking the can down the road. I am trying to find a way to balance these two consequences. Sometimes, the symbolism matters and letting a student go home early sends the wrong message, especially to a repeat offender.
     
  16. Mr Magoo

    Mr Magoo Comrade

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    Feb 19, 2017

    .
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
    Secondary Teach likes this.

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