5. Making threats without authority to follow through: Most teachers, for example, cannot expel a student, and the kids know it. If teachers make empty threats, the kids won’t respect them.
6. Getting emotional when talking with parents: If an issue escalates and the teacher needs to call the parents, the teacher should stick to the facts and make no judgments about the child. Simply inform the parents about the student’s choices that led to the phone call. More important, if possible the teacher should try to contact the parents before the student can plead his or her case.
7. Not being 100-percent certain that the named student committed the offense: Teachers should not invoke the steps of the discipline policy unless they know without a doubt the student(s) involved.
8. Sending students to the office without documentation: Sending students to an administrator should always be the last step in the plan. If a student arrives without documentation or it’s unclear exactly who was involved, the administrator may send the student back to class with a lesser punishment.
9. Punishing students for the act that was the tipping point and not the breadth of discipline issues: First, the student’s overall behavior needs to be addressed—not a single incident. Moreover, the punishment may not fit the actions, or the administrator may think the teacher is overreacting, if he or she does not understand the scope of the student’s actions.
“The focus shifts when you make disciplinary mistakes…from what the student did wrong to what you did wrong,” said Holden. “The temptation after you go through some sort of a traumatic event like that…is to say, ‘You know what, I am just going to quit disciplining students, and I am going to let them do what they want because that’s just going to make my life easier.’ That is a recipe for disaster. Disciplining the correct way keeps administrators, parents, and students on your side.”
About the Presenter
Assistant principal at Republic Middle School in Missouri, Shannon Holden has been a high school and middle school administrator and teacher in Texas and Missouri for 20 years. He presents frequently to teachers and administrators about classroom management, maintaining positive relationships with parents, instructional strategies that engage students, and implementing technology in the classroom. He is the host of the Teacher HELP! and TechTools for the Classroom communities on edWeb.net. Follow him on Twitter @newteacherhelp.
About the Community
Teacher HELP! is a professional learning community that helps teachers get advice, support, and share experiences about teaching.
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