Thursday, June 28, 2018

Diary of a First Year Kindergarten Teacher: 14th Entry

Wednesday, September 18
Dear Diary,

Six days of school completed and it feels like it's been six months. Today was absolutely crazy. It began on a sour note and continued to get worse as the day progressed.
In the schoolyard this morning, Rose Gil, one of my students was pushed by a second grader. The scuffle left Rose with a bloody lip. She had to go to the nurse's office.
Luckily, an older student was able to take Rose for me and even more fortuitous, the nurse was there to take care of her. Due to funding issues, the nurse only comes to our school three half days a week.
Miss Mary was able to assist me during arrival but shortly after she was called to the office. I didn't see her for the rest of the day. 
Shortly after arrival, at 9:00 am, I called the class to the Large Group area for our Morning Meeting. Upon sitting, Christopher Matthews immediately started lying down on the carpet, making it difficult for the other children to sit.
I redirected him to his table and gave him paper and crayons to use while I instructed the rest of the class. Within a few minutes, a few of the children told me that Christopher had started breaking up the crayons into little pieces.
I ignored the behavior and continued with the Morning Meeting.  I was extremely frustrated. Since the school district wouldn't supply me with crayons for my class, I bought them. After the Morning Meeting, I placed the crayons in a pencil box. From now on they will be Christopher's crayons to use.

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  Following lunch, from 11:15-11:30,  the children have a 15-minute recess in the schoolyard. When I arrived to pick up my class, Christopher and Devon Wilson were fist fighting. Apparently, Christopher had touched Devon and Devon didn't like it. I should have done a pink slip for the both of them but I just can't bring myself to do it. Pink slips in kindergarten seems a bit harsh.
I did do a lesson on the appropriate ways to use our hands and read the book, "Hands Are Not For Hitting." I also informed their parents.
Around 1:55, Devon was caught up in another fight with Brandon White. The pair had started arguing at their table. Before I could get to them to intervene, they were slapping and punching each other.
In order to avoid future conflict with the boys, I reassigned Devon to another table. Five minutes later, Devon had slapped Jason Peters on the arm for pushing his char. Jason was clearly shaken.
He said that he was just trying to get Devon's attention. I explained to the boys that we have to use our words instead of our hands for certain situations. Jason seemed to get the message. I'm not so sure about Devon.
At 2:10, Samuel Bishop started tickling Violet Martinez. She told him to stop but he kept doing it. I gave him several warnings and reminded him about the book we'd read earlier, but he wouldn't stop the unwanted behavior. I moved Samuel to another table and spoke to his father.
Not five minutes later, Cyrus Jackson pulled Rose's hair. He continued to do it even after she told him to stop. When I got to the table he stopped and apologized to Rose.
Tomorrow I'll do another lesson on positive ways we use our hands and make the individual sticker charts for Devon, Ramona and Christopher. That's all I'll be able to manage right now.
If Miss Mary is able to stay with me for longer than 20 minutes, I'll try to get her to help me with more sticker charts.
Hopefully, in a few more weeks the children will learn the classroom expectations better and be able to engage with each other more appropriately.

How are behaviors the first few weeks in your classroom? How do you deal with them?

Thursday, June 7, 2018

10 Things You Need To Know About Out-Of-School Suspensions

Photograph by: Wokandapix

As a former classroom teacher I know that out-of-school suspensions aren't very effective, unless the student is usually a well-behaved, first-time offender who will learn a lesson from their temporary removal.

Some of their chronic counterparts, however, tend to view suspensions as an impromptu holiday and will deliberately misbehave to be granted another one. So what's the proper way to handle this tricky discipline technique?

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In order to make an informed decision you need to know the facts. I have uncovered some of the most pertinent.
             1. A high accumulation of student suspensions leads to negative consequences, such as lower academic achievement levels and a larger number of school dropouts. These side effects contribute to the cycle of unemployment, which in turn can lead to a higher crime rate.
            2. African-American students and students with disabilities have a higher suspension rate than white students.
            3. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students have a higher probability rate of not only being suspended, but expelled.
            4.  According to an article by the AFT, during the 2011-2012 school year, nearly 3.5 million public school students were suspended at least once.
            5. It's been estimated that in one school year public school children in the United States lost a sum total of 18 million instructional days due to suspensions. Staggering!

Photograph by: geralt

            6. Research has shown that suspensions do not promote safer school climates.
            7. Students who are suspended or expelled are more likely to become involved with the juvenile justice system. 
            8. There are research-based programs, like Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) and Safe and Responsive Schools (SRS) designed to train teachers and administrators in techniques to improve student behavior and school climate.
            9.  It will take willful political strength, adequate funding, community involvement, and unwavering commitment to properly integrate a cohesive non-exclusionary discipline plan in schools, especially in high-risk areas.  
            10. Our children and teachers deserve better.

Photograph by: Sweetlouise
                                How do you think school suspensions should be handled?