A student blows up at a teacher, drops the F-bomb. The usual approach at Lincoln – and, safe to say, at most high schools in this country – is automatic suspension. Instead, Sporleder sits the kid down and says quietly: “Wow. Are you OK? This doesn’t sound like you. What’s going on?”
He gets even more specific: “You really looked stressed. On a scale of 1-10, where are you with your anger?” The kid was ready. Ready, man! For an anger blast to his face….”How could you do that?” “What’s wrong with you?”…and for the big boot out of school. But he was NOT ready for kindness.
The armor-plated defenses melt like ice under a blowtorch and the words pour out: “My dad’s an alcoholic. He’s promised me things my whole life and never keeps those promises.” The waterfall of words that go deep into his home life, which is no piece of breeze, end with this sentence: “I shouldn’t have blown up at the teacher.” Whoa.
Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA, tries new approach to school discipline — suspensions drop 85% (via mchotdog)
what a radical idea yo
Bam. Kids “misbehave” for actual, real, valid reasons. And have feelings.
For fuck’s sake, it takes the people in charge so long to figure shit like this out! Good for Lincoln High!
This needs to be the policy EVERYWHERE…
This is also why teachers need more resources, smaller class sizes, more adults in the classroom.
Something like this happened when I was student teaching in a third grade classroom. During a writing assignment, a boy was not working, muttering swear words at his desk, banging things. Instead of telling him to stop being disruptive or putting his name on the board, I came close and crouched down and said I could see he was feeling upset and asked what was wrong. It turned out he had forgotten his rough draft (they were supposed to be copying their edited rough drafts into a final draft) and he didn’t know what to do now and he figured he was going to get a zero and fail the assignment and be in trouble.
I suggested he could do his best to rewrite his one-page story from memory. Just write as much as you can, give me your best effort and I’ll accept it as your assignment. Well, he was SO HAPPY that he wasn’t just going to straight-up fail that he actually did a great job remembering what his story had been about and rewriting it as best he could. I know this isn’t as big an issue as the alcoholic father, but it’s still a case of finding the cause of the problem vs. punishing the symptom.
But here’s the thing: I couldn’t have done that if I hadn’t been a student teacher in that room, if the regular teacher hadn’t been there to keep the rest of the class on task and quiet. One teacher in a room of thirty kids isn’t always *able* to give that kind of individual attention.
Teachers get so much crap for what they do and don’t do, for the choices they make with the resources they have. Criticism is always necessary, but it needs to be followed up with support.