72. TWP’S CRITIQUE OF “A DISCIPLINE PLAN FROM ARIZONA”

SPECIAL MEMO TO “SHARON OF ARIZONA”: This post was written by the four of us at TWP over 6 days of editing and re-editing. We feel that this post may be the best we have ever written. Sharon, we all urge you to read ALL of this post before sending any comments to us. Everything below is in sincerity and we wrote what we wrote because we CARE about YOU and your 2nd grade pupils.

TWP’S CRITIQUE OF

“A DISCIPLINE PLAN FROM ARIZONA”


Dear readers: We at TWP have, after much deliberation among the four of us, decided to give our own analysis of the “Discipline Plan” submitted by Sharon, a 2nd grade teacher. When I (Renee) first received the “plan”, I knew it involved school c.p. as well as a demerit system. I anticipated a system of good merits vs. bad demerits in which one would offset the other. (Think “indulgences” or “offsets”)

But after I finished reading the “plan”, all I could do was blink my eyes and shake my head. I then thought,”Did I miss something?” I looked it over carefully the second time while using my insights as a veteran teacher and intern assistant principal. After re-reading it a couple times, I felt that a few questions needed to be clarified in my mind before assessing the overall plan. Do understand though -Jenny, Wendy and Michelle were much more “acidic” than I was in their initial reactions.

The questions, which appeared on the last post along with Sharon’s answers sent to TWP this week are as follows (Answers in Bold):

1) In your list of violations; does “talking in class” or “not paying attention” count the same as “disrespect towards teacher” or “inappropriate horseplay” as to issuance of demerits?

As with many things in the classroom, each teacher has a certain amount of discretion in terms of giving out demerits for misbehavior. The teacher has the ability to assign multiple demerits should behavior warrant. Therefore -yes- certain misbehavior such as disrespect to the teacher can be assigned more demerits than a minor violation such as not paying attention.

2) Is “spanking”/c.p. the only negative consequence for 6 or more demerits?

The way the plan is structured currently, all students who receive in excess of 5 demerits are subject to a spanking/cp. We do reserve the right to include additional “negative consequences” based on the individual situation. These things could include: work in the classroom, extra homework, and others.

3) What are the “other minor rules”?

I believe I included some of these previously but examples of minor rules are:

1. Talking in class without permission
2. Minor disruptive behavior
3. Inappropriate verbal or physical teasing of another student
4. Deliberate inattention in class
5. Failing to follow directions or classroom procedures
6. Being unprepared for class
7. Not completing homework/assignments on time
8. Chewing gum
9. Eating candy or food in class at inappropriate times or in inappropriate places on campus
10. Running in buildings or at inappropriate times
11. Littering on campus

4) How does your plan work on a shorten week -Like Thanksgiving week?

As part of putting this plan together we looked at our school calendar to address that very question. In terms of Thanksgiving, our school was closed the entire week so it was not an issue. The same will be true for the Holiday break as the last day of class is Friday December 18th and there will then be a full two week break. Our spring break is also a full week. We do have a few weeks where there will be 4 day school weeks due to a teacher in service day or singular holiday. For these 4 day weeks we have elected to keep the same standards. Therefore in theory a student would have to misbehave at a higher rate in order to exceed the demerit threshold.

5) How many students in your classroom have been “spanked” since the plan was started? How many “spankings” total over how many weeks?

The numbers I am providing below are reflective of both 2nd grade classrooms and a total of 64 students. The classroom discipline plan has now been in place for 7 weeks though in reality 6 weeks as one of the weeks was Thanksgiving. Therefore there have been 6 Friday’s where demerits have been totaled and discipline administered. Over this 6 week period, there have been 27 students who have received a spanking. The first week of the program, 7 students received a spanking and it has averaged 4 per week since then. I believe the first week’s higher numbers were a result of students “testing the system” and the teachers being a bit stricter as well. Of the 27 spankings, there have been 11 incidents of repeat offenders so approximately 25% of the students in the two classrooms have received a spanking since the program’s inception. Though we do not have a similar period to compare these numbers to, I can safely say that the 25% figure is lower then the % of students who would havereceived detention, loss of recess, etc over a similar 6 week period.

Now that my (Renee) questions were answered, TWP has agreed to critique the aforementioned plan by first giving the positives that we agreed on. Then, we will focus on the negatives using our three principles as defined in MISSION STATEMENT (Judicious, Moderate, Rare/Sparing). Finally, we will give our impressions and conclusions on the “Discipline Plan” submitted by Sharon.

THE POSITIVES

We at TWP are positive people -Or at least try to be. We do not know what prompted Sharon to contact us but we are glad she did. TWP is a “fair and balanced” blog and will give credit where it is due.

The positive aspect of this plan is the positive reinforcement characteristic of the plan. Good behavior -or at least staying out of trouble- is something good to be encouraged in ALL students.
We only wished there was a “merit” system in the plan to better single out specific positive behaviors in the children.

Sharon, you are definitely on to something here and we believe you are headed in the right direction on this point-So don’t stop.

THE NEGATIVES

While we at TWP give encouragement to the idea of rewarding good behavior, we simply CANNOT in good conscience ignore the negatives which, in our opinion, overwhelm the positives. Our criteria comes from our post MISSION STATEMENT. We put some thought into this and truly believe this is a “teachable moment”.

JUDICIOUS

All school discipline must be consistent, fair, and firm if it is to be effective. Whatever the rules, they must apply to everyone and be enforced the same way by ALL teachers at all times. Also, the same rules must be enforced day in and day out, without fail. That is where fairness becomes a part of the process. When those conditions are achieved, it can be said the the discipline policy is JUDICIOUS.

Problem

In the discipline plan, the first problem is multiple teachers. This is also a problem at the secondary school level and is a primary reason why we disfavor c.p. at that level. In this plan, 4 teachers are given total discretion as to handing out demerits as they each see fit. But teachers are NOT robots and can NOT be expected to be consistent at all times. But once a demerit is given, it is given and the child moves at least one step closer to receiving a “spanking/c.p.”

The second problem is fairness. “Talking in class w/o permission” seems simple -But demerits each time? We know teachers love absolutely quiet classrooms but we are talking about 7 year olds here. “Minor disruptive behavior”? What exactly is that? Hope your students are clear on what a “minor disruptive behavior” is. (Not defined as a sneeze or cough, I hope!) “Deliberate inattention in class” -How do you determine if inattention is “deliberate” or not? “Failing to follow directions or classroom procedures”? Is this “failing” intentional or “unintentionally” caused by confusion by an individual student as to directions? “Being unprepared for class”. What if child loses pencil? You need to cut a LITTLE slack -Hey, they ARE 2nd graders, after all! “Not completing homework/assignments on time”. What about the “slow child” who turns in their classwork last or his difficulty in the task? -A demerit for THAT? You also must be sure to accept SOME excuses such as family emergencies and sicknesses as to homework. These MUST come from parents by written note. All other infractions are o.k. but you still must use common sense over the “quick draw” as to giving demerits.

MODERATE

If an educator uses moderation, he/she will not use an inappropriately sized paddle nor an overpowering physical force in the administration of corporal punishment.

Problem

The Hand: This is an implement that we did not endorse because it is prohibited by most school districts including our own. The reason is that the usage of the hand involves more direct physical contact between teacher and student. We at TWP agree and feel that a physical insturment as recommended in our post IMPLEMENTS AND TECHNIQUES are worth a look.

The hand does present other problems as well. Being a mom myself, I (Renee) KNOW that the hand is able to do more damage than you would think. Remember that the hand is mostly hardened muscle because we use it every day in various tasks of gripping, pulling, etc. A hard flattened hand impacting a clothed rear end of a 7 year old at maximum force WILL bruise -Believe me, I know firsthand! (No pun intended)

I understand the intent of the plan is to have the use of the hand as step 1 because it is considered the mildest. But the truth is -If max force (Hand held up at full arm lenght with full use of arm and shoulder in swatting) is used, the hand will surpass the ruler easily and may exceed a lite paddle in impact as well. Of course, lite to moderate hand swats are o.k. but from what we have read thus far; that is not the case here.

Ruler: According to your last email, this is a thin wooden 12″ ruler about 1/4″ in thickness. A suggestion: We believe this instrument would be best used as a step 1. Just be careful with the corners/edges because they could leave marks. Hint: Sand off the corners/edges!

Paddle: Described as thin, wooden and ping pong shaped, it is 1/4″ thick and this is o.k. as long as there are NO holes. Actually, this paddle is less likely to bruise than a full-force hand impact. If you dispute this, simply compare the weight of your hand vs. the “lite paddle”. You will be surprised.

# of Swats: We think 5 is too many for 7 year olds and 3 is less severe and meets our moderate requirement. Keep in mind that c.p. should be much more psychological than physical -The initial sting should subside by the time child re-enters the classroom a few minutes later.

RARE

Nearly all school districts say that corporal punishment is to be used as a “last resort” but nearly always leave exceptions for extreme behavior which is rarely defined.

Problem

In the “Plan”, spanking/c.p. is not only the first option, it is the ONLY option. And the result: There have been 6 Friday’s where demerits have been totaled and discipline administered. Over this 6 week period, there have been 27 students who have received a spanking. Approximately 25% of the students in the two classrooms (64 total) have received a spanking since the program’s inception.

Numbing numbers like those ALONE destroy the so called “Plan” in the eyes of TWP. We all agree that if we used this plan at its fullest; nearly half of ALL of our students would be spanked/paddled. At TWP, we are proud that our paddles are used so rarely: Only 7 paddlings given by the four of us all of last year.

OTHER PROBLEMS

Weekly Discipline Pattern: This is second to “rare” as the worst problem and tied with “Hand”. The “Plan” sounds like a sick version of “Survivor” where the winners make it to Friday afternoon with 5 or fewer demerits and are REWARDED for it. And the unlucky few get marks or perhaps even a bruise on their buttocks to start their weekend with. A truly disgusting “T.G.I.F. Spanking” routine -In our opinion.

Publicly Humiliation of Students: Purposely humiliating students to be spanked/paddled by calling out their names in front of the entire class. Totally unnecessary! You do not have to make a secret of who is due but public humiliation is ABUSIVE!

5/6 Threshold: If a student early in the week exceeds 5 demerits, what motivation does he have to “toe the line” since he/she is ALREADY due to be spanked anyway? Visa versa, what about the child who stays quiet and lays low through most of the week? If you have a 4 or 5 demerit cushion, there is little incentive to keep behaving -A student may “slack off” on Friday a.m. and “coast” to dismissal time.

Punishment Levels: After 6 demerits, #7 and #8 mean nothing -The punishment is the same. The Ruler as to #9 and #10 presents same problem. After #10, your plan is maxed out as to c.p. with the paddle. If nothing else convinces you that spanking/c.p. has real limitations as a first and only option, then consider this: The worst you can do is 5 swats with a lite ping pong paddle.

Thats it -Unless, in your upside down world, you consider detention, recess sit-ins and extra homework the “nuclear option”.

IMPRESSIONS/CONCLUSIONS

Sharon dear, we are sure by now that you feel “put-down” or “slammed” by TWP. While our criticism is pointed and may seem harsh, it is not “personal”, unlike the flood of comments that we have received from other readers. Just keep in mind that we average 100s of readers every week and many were extremely upset by your “Discipline Plan”. As to TEACHERSWHOPADDLE, we pride ourselves in being “fair and balanced” to BOTH sides of the school c.p. debate. Anyone who disputes that has never read any of our posts. We at TWP regard ourselves as a “middle of the road” blog which leans towards the “pro c.p.” side but refuses to be anyone’s ideological “rubber stamp”.

Renee: When I first fully understood the “Discipline Plan”(After re-reading it several times), I thought,”This must be a JOKE…A VERY ‘SICK’ JOKE…” Sharon honey, none of us think of you as a “bad person” but the “Plan” IS bad and its positives are wiped out by the negatives. I try to see the good in people and you DO have GOOD in you.

Sharon, as the “good” person I truly believe you to be -You have a decision to make: Disregard everything we posted and keep doing what you are doing in name of “behavior management” regardless of the children in your care OR starting in the new year, simply refuse to give out demerits for trivial reasons like a shopping mall Santa giving out candyAND refuse to either administer or witness Friday “spankings/c.p.” until the “Plan” is drastically changed or scraped altogether. 25% of the 2nd graders spanked in just 6 weeks is WAY too many.

Jenny: Like Renee, I have a boy who will start kindergarten next year and I was SHOCKED by what you and your teacher-colleagues have been doing in name of discipline. As both a parent and teacher, I am NOT adverse to the idea of “spanking/c.p.” but have rarely done so on both fronts. The reason can be stated simply as “c.p. as LAST resort”. Sharon dear, I do not teach all “angels” and if I were to use the “Plan” you sent us, more than half my class would have been paddled before Halloween. I think you and the other teachers can do better than that “Plan”. Go for it girl!…I believe in you!

Wendy: I am the third and youngest mom and I try to understand where you are coming from. But I can’t. Because I have the (unfair) tag of “hardest paddler” and “hot-tempered” placed on me by anti c.p. zealots, I sympathize with the hardships you have as a young teacher. But still, what you are doing WILL backfire in the arena of public opinion. Do not think the “Discipline Plan” will stay a secret from the general public. TWP is not the WALL STREET JOURNAL but eventually someone will read about the “Plan” and then -All hell will break loose over your “spanking/c.p. Plan”. After all, 80% of Arizona school districts ALREADY ban c.p. What you are doing may do what the antis have been trying to do for years. Think about that.

Michelle: When Renee showed me the “Discipline Plan”, my first reaction was,”Is this some ‘adult s&m game’ sent to us by some sicko pervert?” Sharon, I’m just a year(?) older than you and certainly understand how senior teachers can “pull” you towards their way of thinking. Speaking for myself; if Renee, Jenny or Wendy had suggested or urged ANYsuch “Plan” on me, I would have firmly but politely said “NO”. I actually was the most upset and angry about the “Plan” and would have been harsher towards you had I typed out this earlier. The “Plan” you sent us still bothers me greatly but the reason TEACHERSWHOPADDLE exists is for issues like this. Please, for your “kid’s” sake as well as your own -Take to heart what we have posted here. Remember, none of us “hate” you -We only want what is best for you and your “kids”.

ALL: None of us, as parents, would EVER consent to our children being subjected to the “Plan” you sent us. Furthermore, we would ALL pull our children out of your school the same day we heard about it.

Conclusion

Sharon dear, we want you to to think about the following during your time off over Christmas through the New Year’s celebrations.

On Friday afternoon just before the start of Christmas break, one of you “spanked” a 2nd grade boy or girl. Follow this scenario: The seven year old was dropped off by his mom late on Monday a.m. because of car trouble/traffic backup. His mom calls office to have tardy “excused” but one of his teachers already gave him a demerit -And “forgets” to take it off later. Tuesday, he/she loses pencil and gets demerit #2 for being unprepared for class. Wednesday, he/she commits the cardinal sin of getting up to sharpen pencil w/o permission-Demerit #3 (But if child fails to finish classwork on time, that is also a demerit). On Thursday, he/she is on wrong page when class is reading together a story -Demerit #4. At Thursday lunch, he/she drops fork and (forgetting a “cafeteria rule”) goes against the lunch line to get clean fork -Demerit #5. (Thursday was truly a “bad” day) On Friday, he/she blurts out “I know…I know” to a question asked in class before raising his/her hand -Demerit #6 and a trip across a teacher’s lap for 5 hard hand swats.

When he/she leaves school a short time later, his/her buttocks will have someone’s hand marks on them as a parting “Christmas present”.

Sharon, while you are celebrating Christmas with family and friends and ringing in the New Year while sipping champagne -You might ought to think back about that “Christmas present” a small child got for “minor rule violations”.

The administrator might “forget” about it but that child will NEVER forget what happened to him/her for “minor rule violations”.

Think about that…

 

NEXT POST: PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE week #15/16

(RENEE PADDLES A BOY!),

RENEE CHRONICLES pt. XV

&

I WISH…

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