The English Teacher

Taking a Problem Home

In dealing with student behavior I have concluded, after years of teaching, that if I go home with a problem student on my mind, I have not dealt with the situation appropriately. The student needs to go home with the problem. If you find that you are wondering 'what is that student going to do tomorrow?' then you should have dealt with it.

The following are actions that can be taken before and after you reach the point of sending a student to the office.

When you reach the point of beginning to react with fear or anger, that student has to go.

1.) Send the student to the office.

2.)Then turn in the discipline slip with all the incidents and your efforts to deal with the situation recorded on it. [See: Keeping a Grade Book Record.] Those efforts might include moving the student's seat, talking several times after class and a call to the parents.

3.) *Remember to record the dates of the occurrences on the discipline slip also. Note: among the actions suggested, a call to the parents can be very important. Sometimes it may not be possible to complete the call, but if you can record even the attempt, the case for disciplinary action is stronger. A vice-principal may be more apt to discipline a student if he/she knows that the parent has previously been notified. However, whether or not the parent has been notified, when the student sits in the vice principal's office prepared to explain the 'injustice' of your sending him to the office for 'one' talking episode, etc., they have a shock when the vice principal has a list of behaviors to ask them about.

4.)Concerning discipline slips: don't just trust to written discipline slips to communicate with the vice-principal. Talking with the vice-principal and working out a strategy early in the process may help the student more quickly correct the behavior in question and it will bring more effective support if further discipline is needed.

5.)Also note: once the administrator has agreed that the student's behavior needs to be improved and has instructed the student to do so, his/her support will be stronger in future cases. In the future when the student shows up in the office, the administrator's authority is being challenged as well as the teacher's.

If you are firm with discipline in September, you will thank yourself in May.

Return to: Strategies for Classroom Discipline