Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Discipline

The best principal I ever had (and I had quite a few) had a novel idea when it came to children who were being discipline problems.  She urged her teachers to realize that there was a reason for their behavior.  She wasn't condoning fights, disrespect, or any other of the myriad behavior problems we dealt with on a daily basis, but just pointing out that there are reasons behind their behavior.  She explained further by saying, "Many of these kids have been through things that none of you can even imagine."  That has always stuck with me.

It's easy as a teacher to say thoughtless things like "I don't know why you do this," or "You should be ashamed of yourself," or "Why can't you be good."  Some teachers try to be aware and compassionate and avoid things like this, while others are so frustrated/uncomfortable/unhappy/afraid that they don't try any more and just yell at kids about being stupid and bad (I've worked next door to some of those teachers).

This is what got me to create the feelings paper that I've talked about, although I wish I had done it earlier, and I've certainly been guilty of just reacting.  Having kids look at why they are reacting the way they are is invaluable - you get an insight into them and, more importantly, the child takes a moment to think about what's going on, making them less of a prisoner to their feelings. 

That is why I liked this article so much. 
The kid was ready. Ready, man! For an anger blast to his face….”How could you do that?” “What’s wrong with you?”…and for the big boot out of school. But he was NOT ready for kindness.
Obviously, they picked one of the better reactions to document, and some teenagers would ridicule anyone who asked them anything about their feelings.  But if you look at the suspension statistics, it seems to work.  Imagine that.  Not reacting in anger but trying to figure out the root cause of behavior. 

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