Saturday, October 27, 2007

To suspend or not to suspend? That is the question!

What can we do with students that constantly receive office referrals?

The students that always seem to be in the administrators offices are the same students that perform below grade level on standardized tests. These students need to be in the classroom to get the information they need to be successful on those test, otherwise schools fall to the sanctions imposed by NCLB. However, when these students are in class they disrupt so that other students are not able to learn.

When administrators receive office referrals for students they have several options of what to do with the student. The popular choices seem to be OSS (out of school suspension) or ISS (In school suspension). The benefits of ISS include:
1. The student remains at school and is able to have an adult monitor them and ensure they understand the lessons.
2. The students can conference with a counselor or mentor during the day.
3. The student is out of the classroom not disrupting the other students
4. The student is not running the street.

When the student receives OSS:
1. They are not guaranteed getting the assignment, much less receiving help to understand the material.
2. Students are often left unattended at home and get into more trouble on the street.
3. The student is out of the classroom not disrupting the other students.
4. They fall into a cycle of missing school, falling behind in their academics, and not finding success.

Both options remove the student from the classroom where they are preventing other students from learning. But in both scenarios students are forced to learn without the benefit of their classroom teacher.

After deciding what type of punishment to deliver to the student, the administrator must then decide the number of days to put the student out of the class. Most administrators have the luxury of deciding between one and ten days ISS or OSS. Does it really make a difference in the students’ behavior if you remove them from class for one or two days verses five to ten days? Is it more beneficial to bring the parent in for conferences with the student in an attempt to correct the behavior? Finally, at what point do we permanently remove the student from school and suffer the consequences of NCLB?

Start em' off right

I am writing this entry at 4:00 in the morning at an all male lock-in for 6th grade students. We are using this lock-in as an introduction to our young knights on what it means to be a young man. Our goal, as teachers, is to introduce these young men to different members in the school and in the community that are concerned about them and want to teach them how to build a successful life and community. By starting with the 6th graders we are looking to develop characteristics in young men that will have a positive impact on the school in the coming years.
While at the lock in we have done some team building activities, as well as, allowed the students some free time to play basketball, football, ping-pong, cards, etc. We have fed the student’s supper and have educational sessions set up for them. The educational sessions include discussions about sexual harassment from the SRO, a lesson on etiquette by the Kappa Fraternity, and a goal setting session by a former student and pro football player in the community.
The first night was meet with some frustration by the adults because of the student’s behavior, however I think this is most of the young men’s first event like this and they were excited and did not mean to be disrespectful at times. The students did come around and got to participate with their teachers, administrators, and community members in a variety of activities that allowed them to see adults in a different light. Most of the adults took time in the various activities to teach students about teamwork and how to improve their skills.
With much work my colleagues and I will strive to make these 6th grade young men a positive force within the school community.