Saturday, May 21, 2005

Survived Another Year

By most measures of success, just making it to the end of a semester is a major accomplishment. One of our teachers resigned mid-year, and the interim teacher that replace him was...well, I think some things are better unsaid. In the local newspaper, a comment was printed that inferred our school was being under utilized. Politics? Newspaper what publish ignorant statement like this are examples of a Bully Pulpit. This term stems from President Theodore Roosevelt reference to the White House as a "bully pulpit," meaning a terrific platform from which to persuasively advocate an agenda. Is this agenda to segregate, isolate, or selectively educate? Our public schools are just that- public. Public education can not refuse to teach children just because they exhibit anti-social behavior. Can local edicts circumvent Federal laws and the rights of all to satisfy a few?

Here are a few thoughts on methods for obtaining good discipline.

It can be argued that the most important aspect of good discipline in a school is assertiveness. Assertive administrators and teachers who set clear boundaries, praise children for appropriate behavior, and whose punishments are perceived as "fair" by the children, tend to have a calm atmosphere and good academic results. Praise in a whole other issue. I will cover that in another post.

On the other hand teachers and administrators who are not assertive tend to have variable boundaries, such as ignoring a behavior one day then blowing up in rage at the same behavir the next day, giving inappropriate punishments such as a long detention for a minor infraction (like spitting), or allowing the pupils they perceive as "good" or depending of factors like race or who their parents are or if they are good at sports, to get away with behavior that "bad" pupils are punished for. Such practices have been found to create a frantic or uneasy atmosphere in the classroom, usually leading to the teacher being disliked by the pupils and less learning being achieved.

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