Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Day 69: Dr. Spock, Ed.D.

Yes, I am WELL aware that it was MR. Spock and not DR.

I made a dozen phone calls home last night to parents of the students I was discussing yesterday.  My main statement to them was that the interventions that I have tried in class have not been effective.  I asked for their input on what else could be done and let them know that, moving forward, I would have to remove the students from the classroom if they continued to disrupt the environment.

Of the parents to whom I was able to speak, all agreed that this was an acceptable plan.  I don't like throwing kids out of my class, but at this point, I don't feel ok allowing the rest of my students to be pulled down by the willful disruption of a very small minority.  I feel that I have given them a fair chance to make better choices.

I will continue to give them a fresh start each day and will continue to attempt to redirect them, but my threshold for tolerance has been lowered.

I like to think that Spock would agree with me.

Public education is a weird animal in this respect.  We are required to provide a "Free Appropriate Public Education" to anyone who wants it, which is an excellent thing and necessary for a functioning society.

Each student is important and has their own needs.  The major problems often come when the needs or desires of a single student adversely affect the needs or desires of others.

Some cases are clear cut.  When a student poses a physical threat to others, that student is removed from the environment.  Other students, however, may pose an emotional or education harm to others.  These are much harder to deal with.

Sometimes, we are able to provide remediation or intervention for this student and bring them back into the fold.

This is why we offer geometry and algebra 2 and calculus and pre-algebra all as separate courses.  It is not the best educational environment for a student if they are fighting for teacher attention to answer their addition question with students who are finding multiple derivatives.

We know enough to have to different classes with different content, but we haven't figured out a way to do this adequately for behavior and learning styles.  I'm not saying that these don't exist, because there are plenty of alternative educational settings, but the efficacy of those placements is debatable.

It seems that more often than not, these alternative placements serve one, or both, of two purposes: to hold the student until something can be thought of to do with them, or to keep them separate from the general educational population.

I don't mean to criticize the idea of these placement centers.  I think they are important and can offer services and attention that public schools simply cannot.

What I will say is that, like prisons, we wouldn't need so many of them if we would be willing to invest in school psychologists.  So many of the issues that my students have could be helped greatly through intervention services and counseling that we simply cannot provide.

Sometimes there needs to be a conversation about how it's not acceptable to throw pencils at people or punch people in the side of the head.

The middle of a lesson on direct variation is usually not the place for that conversation, especially if it only needs to be had by 2 students out of a class of 30.
Please stop selling drugs long enough to let me teach calculus.
My classroom is not anywhere close to this chaos.  I believe that I have fairly good class management skills.  I almost never write anyone up and deal with most discipline problems internally.  With this in mind, I have to admit that I don't know how to manage this situation.  It is just on the tips of my fingers in terms of control.

I may have to ask for an assist.
It's all you, Vice Principal James!

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