23. A DIFFERENT OUTCOME & YOUR FAQ’S

Dear Readers: We at TWP are still amazed that after four months of our blog, there still are people who actually think all we do is paddle school kids all day every day. Sometimes I don’t know if I should scream, laugh, or cry. Maybe all three. But we all know the truth of our own experiences: That paddlings rarely happens and when meted out, is not abusive. When planning this post, Michelle asked me (Renee) if I had ever changed my mind on paddling one of my students. It turns out that one “paddling” had a different outcome than I anticipated- and looking back, I’m glad it did!

 

A DIFFERENT OUTCOME

Sometimes, one expects a standard outcome to a given situation. When I place a child in “recess sit-in,”that means the child stays in for recess while the others go out. And when a child breaks in line at lunchtime, that child has to go to the back of the line. Finally, when a paddling is merited, I take the child to the conference room after taking out my oval “paddleball” paddle and securing a teacher-witness. I have paddled no more than about a dozen students in my 6 1/2 years as a teacher and give no more than three quick moderate swats before escorting child back to the room.

What readers must understand is that-for me-this is the worst part of my job as a teacher and I avoid using the paddle except as a last option. This is why so few of my students have ever been paddled- about one to two per year on average and one year- my best- the paddle was never used! I only wish every year was like that one but with new kids each year, every year is different.

One year was different for a reason: The paddling that I was to give turned out differently.

It was my second year in teaching and I would have forgotten about it had Michelle not asked me if I had ever changed my mind on paddling a student. The student, who I will call Bob, was a typical foot-loose and playful kid who had a hard time sitting still. Bob had another characteristic- He was ADHD and was the first that I dealt with in my career. And he has not been the last!

The story began on an ordinary morning during the reading time that I use to help settle down my 3rd grade class after recess. It was early in the school year and no major problems had yet materialized. I remember that I left the room for a minute to get a fresh cup of coffee from the conference room that was only a couple doors down the hall.

What I really recall about that room was the new school policy that year: All paddlings were to be administered in the conference room with a witness- No paddling in the hallways. The reader may recall the post of my first paddling- which I reluctantly gave outside the classroom of my teaching mentor “Jean.” Since that first, I paddled only one other student that year and hoped-unrealistically- that there would be no occasion to use the paddle my second year. The problem was Bob and his tendency to follow the wrong lead- of kids who like to “get” others into trouble.

Returning to the room with a fresh cup of coffee, I heard a noise and some laughs. I cringed and thought to myself, “Can’t even leave them alone for 2 minutes!”

Walking in the room, I just saw Bob hurrying back to his desk with a sheepish look on his face. An initial glance around the room revealed nothing out of the ordinary and I rolled my eyes thinking,”More paper wad in the waste basket games, huh?…Maybe we need to work on math more…This reading time is being wasted!”

But as I looked towards my desk (Where the waste basket was also located), I noticed something missing: The framed desk picture of my new husband and myself made during our honeymoon at St. Thomas Island that previous summer. Then I spotted it face down in the floor as though it had been bumped off! Looking at my desk, I then could tell that it had been bumped into by the way some papers were shuffled out of place. (I am a “neat freak” about my desk-Everything is always in its place!)

Believe it or not, I am a easy going type and understand that boys will be boys. In fact, I had a reputation for being a lite disciplinarian and didn’t mind that at all despite the misgivings of the older teachers. But picking up the 8″x 10″ frame and seeing the busted glass pieces in the floor made me go ballistic.

“What happened here?…I want to know right NOW!” I thundered.

One of the girls pipped in,”Bobby did it…He nearly fell on your desk catching a paper ball to throw into the can.”

So that where the noise came from- A clumsy 8 year old who had an “accident!” Problem was- Bob had a history of close calls already and had been told day in and day out not to horse play inthe classroom. I looked at a grinning Bob- But I was not smiling whatsoever.

“Sheesh!…May be a record…Can’t control himself for 2 d*** minutes!…Lets see if this will work…” I thought to myself as I reached in my desk and pulled out the one instrument that I hoped was “last year.”

“Come with me, Bob…We have some business to take care of,” I spoke as the rest of the class quieten down- starring at me and my small oval shaped paddle. The “impact” area of the paddle was only 8″x6″ and was no more than 1/4″ thick- So it was a lot more intimidating psychologically than physically which has always been my true goal when using it.

That certainly seemed to be the case as I marched a trembling Bob out the classroom to the conference room where a teacher was already on break. I recall his pleading for a second chance and how sorry he was.

“Bob, how many times have I told you not to ‘horseplay’ in my classroom?…None of your classmates seem to have this problem…But for you…Almost every day?” I pointedly questioned. All that Bob seemed to be able to answer with was whinning and more pleas- But the broken glass from the picture frame had sealed the deal as far as I was concerned at that moment.

“Turn around and bend over…Hands against the wall…I am going to give you three licks,” I informed Bob who then started to cry before the first swat was even delivered. As I then took careful aim and seeing that nothing was in the back pockets, I held the paddle back at a 90 degree angle and started to swing it forward towards it’s intended target.

I then stopped as the paddle barely touched Bob.

To this day, I don’t know what caused me to flash think but I realized that the stupid broken glass was the reason Bob was getting paddled. As my perplexed witness looked on, I told Bob,”No dear, I’m not going to paddle you…This time…Because the broken glass was unintential and there are others who are just as guilty of ‘horsing around’ as you are…I will not paddle one person if others are equal in guilt…And since I did not see the others…You will just sit in at recess time.”

Understand-A basic unwritten rule for teachers in our school is: When you make a decision, especially concerning student discipline, follow through with your decision and avoid midstream u-turns. Well, I violated that admonition but am glad I did. I did paddle another student later that year but Bob was not a major problem for the rest of the year. My witness understood but also warned me that other kids might call my “bluff,” although that did not happen.

This story was prompted by Michelle’s question a couple of weeks ago and by the idea posed by a few web idiots that we “enjoy” paddling students. If we did, we would have plenty of opportunities to indulge ourselves. The fact is-WE DON’T and anyone who thinks otherwise has real problems. In the above story, I had the option to give Bob a stinging reminder of what happens to students who misbehave in class but I chose not to…not because I suddenly became an anti-c.p. zealot but rather because I felt the paddle was inappropriate at that time.

 

YOUR FAQ’s

Are you not afraid of being criminally charged for “Hitting” small children? And what will you do if paddling is outlawed?

First, no because the state we teach in has an “enabling law” that allows corporal punishment policy to be implemented at the local school board’s discretion. Second, there is a teacher shield law in effect in our state as well. As to civil suits, that same shield law also applies. In our state, I’ve heard that attorneys will not even take a civil suit against a teacher or district w/o up front fees that can exceed thousands of dollars. So, teachers who paddle in our state only need to carefully follow policy guidelines and that is that!

As to what we would do if paddling was outlawed- We would continue to teach as we always have. The difference is that suspensions, that almost never happen in our school, would soar and the education of some students would suffer.

How many students were paddled in your district last year? The school where you teach?

We don’t really know about the district last year and would not reveal that info because of the possibility of our county being identified by others on the internet. As to our school: It is of average size for our region at around 200 +/- and the number of students paddled (our guessimate) is no more than 12 all of last year. There are over a dozen teachers- So that averages out to less than 1 per teacher.

What state do you teach in? County?Address? Phone number?Marital status?

You have got to be kidding! Why would we ever put our personal info on our blog? The only info about us is on our post ABOUT US- and that is all we are giving out except for this: Three of us are “spoken for,” two are moms with a third “on the way,” and one IS about to be “engaged.” (WE HOPE!)

COMING NEXT WEEK: I WISH…

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