When one mysteriously student does something wrong...

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Backroads, Jan 18, 2018.

  1. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Jan 18, 2018

    I've come across this a few times over my career, and I had another one yesterday: variations of a very mean note about a student being found in a very classroom-public place... and no way of determining who did it.

    If you have had this happen before, how do you handle it?

    Since it happened at the end of the day yesterday, I assigned each student the name of another student to write five nice things about them, as a ticket to recess.

    In retrospect, it felt forced and unnatural. But I also hate to take away recess or other big things like that.
     
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  3. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    Jan 18, 2018

    When this has happened in my classes in the past, I’ve stopped everyone right then to address it. I make it very clear that these types of notes are completely unacceptable - they are unkind, hurtful, and if it happens more than once it is bullying.
    Usually that gets the writer looking guilty, and I pull them aside later to discuss consequences. If no one fesses up, then what you did sounds perfect. It may be forced but it gets the guilty party feeling bad for what they did.
     
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  4. Kat.

    Kat. Companion

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    Jan 18, 2018

    I would tell my students I'll check the cameras and that their consequences will be worse if they aren't honest right away.


    I teach first grade so this usually works for them.
     
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  5. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Jan 18, 2018

    It depends...

    I usually have a heart to heart with the class, telling them I found an unkind note in our classroom and that I'm disappointed. I do a big speech about how we have a great classroom community and that I am shocked someone in our class would do something like this. Then I'd go on to talk about mistakes and how we all make them and sometimes we have to do something really hard, which is make amends.

    Then I'd wait and see. Sometimes the person gives them self away and I follow up with some form of restitution. If the subject of the note is unaware that the note is about them, I wouldn't make the restitution be towards that individual. However, the note writer would need to make amends with the class somehow, maybe by missing part of recess to help clean up a messy activity or some sort of act of kindness for throwing our classroom spirit off kilter.

    I think your response was great and ended a tough situation in a positive way. The author, whoever it was, made amends.
     
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  6. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    Jan 19, 2018

    I'd probably do both of these together.

    Have them write compliments may seem forced and unnatural, but for someone who is writing mean, nasty things, it's going to feel forced and unnatural until it becomes language of habit. Even if only one student wrote the note, it's never a bad thing to have them all practice being kind. The more they practice, the more it will feel natural when they are saying it on their own.
     
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  7. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    Jan 19, 2018

    An addition to this, it's also important to model it. I don't know how often last year I heard my own words coming out of my 2nd graders' mouths and realizing just how bad it sounded. I never meant it badly or meanly when I said it - some of it just came out as a tone of voice - but hearing it repeated by 8-year-olds was a knife to the heart when it sunk in how much I must have been saying things to my students that could be taken as rude or hurtful. I've gotten much better about saying encouraging things, and when I'm in my own classroom again it will be a goal to make sure that the things my students repeat from me are encouraging and kind.

    (Also, I'm not saying that OP is doing the same thing I did, but definitely building in the practice PLUS teacher modeling of how to be kind is a big factor! Some kids will be mean regardless, but it never hurts to practice as much as possible.)
     
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  8. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Jan 20, 2018

    As a class at the beginning of the year, we would make a list of nice, encouraging things to say to each other and then we'd post the list on the wall. I'd listen for such comments during cooperative groups and make mention of what I'd heard during our closing discussion of the project. The nice comments eventually became more a part of the students' natural conversation.

    Backroads, I think your positive intervention was so clever and helpful! Young kids' cruel comments can be so cruel, but they are still learning social behaviors. (And sadly sometimes they're imitating adults). Purposefully practicing kind behaviors is like putting out a fire with water. The more students are doing positive activities, the less room there is for negativity.
     
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