Archive for Dealing with Discipline
Part of a school administrator’s duties is to deal with students when they are sent to the office for being disrespectful, disruptive, or defiant in the classroom.
It’s our job to talk with the student, hand out consequences, and contact parents if necessary.
I don’t think any administrator enjoys giving consequences to students, ( I know I don’t ), but I choose to see these meetings as opportunities to teach a lesson on respect, and hopefully impress upon the student the need to avoid repeating the negative behavior.
Recently, I was asked to share my experience with a colleague who was stepping into the school administrator role for the first time.
Although I don’t consider myself an expert in dealing with discipline, I shared with him some of what I’ve learned so far – mostly by trial and error – as a school administrator.
I made a list of what I say to the students when they’re sent to my office.
I thought I’d share that list here in case there are other new-to-school-administration readers.
Disclaimer: This list is primarily for those minor incidences like class disruption, excessive tardies, minor rules violations, etc. Major incidences like fighting, theft, drugs, etc. need to be handled more severely, and this list may not apply.
Questions to Ask a Student Who is Sent to the School Administrator’s Office on a Behavior Referral
1. Do you know why you’re here?
Most students will know why they were being sent up, but having them explain the situation will force them to evaluate how their actions led them to this place.
2. Can you tell me what happened?
By giving them the opportunity to share their side of the incident, you gain valuable information about the causes for their behavior. They might blame the teacher or another student, but just listening to their side tells them that you are interested in them.
3. Why do you think you needed to be sent to the office?
This question causes the student to see the teacher’s point of view. You may have to ask this question a couple of times for them to really start reflecting on why they’re in your office.
4. Is this behavior you?
This question will get the student thinking about his/her reputation. Most students don’t want to be known as the bad kid, so I always follow up with, “You’re right. I don’t think this behavior is who you are.”
5. What could you have done differently?
I love this question, because this is where the learning begins. Students begin to think about what they would do if they had a do-over. Sometimes they need some help with ideas for different choices that they could have made.
6. What is going to happen next time you’re in this situation?
This is a good follow up question to question #5. It’s also a good question for the end of the meeting just as a reminder.
7. Are you a good kid?
Again, you don’t want them leaving your office thinking that they are a bad kid. Almost all students will respond by saying that they are a good kid. Here is where I would reinforce this by agreeing with them. “You’re right. You’re a good kid who just made a bad choice this time. We all make bad choices.”
8. Is this something that you can fix?
Some students will want to blame their friends or the teacher or their ADHD, but most students will take responsibility and promise to make better choices.
9. What should I tell mom or dad?
I like this question, because I can add the question: “Can I tell mom and dad that you admitted to making a poor choice and that you promised to work on making better choices?” When I call parents, I always want to include something positive to help make it a more pleasant phone call. “Your son is a good student, and he admitted to not making the best choice in class today, and he promised that he would do his best to focus more on school and less on trying to be funny.”
10. What can I do to help make sure this won’t happen again?
Most students won’t want any help, but the question demonstrates to them that you are concerned about them.
11. You understand that I have to give you a consequence for this. Right?
Most students are willing to accept a consequence for their behavior. I tell them that if I let them get away with being disrespectful to their teachers, then the other students will want to be disrespectful. Students understand this logic and accept the consequence.
Again, I wish all students were perfect and never made poor choices, but that isn’t reality. We school administrators will have students sent to us on a daily basis, because they weren’t able to control their actions. I believe, however, we have a great opportunity to make some significant changes in their behavior if we just look at these encounters and learning moments.
Asking the right questions is a key factor in making these changes.
These are the questions I ask. I would love to hear what other questions school administrators ask their students.
Please comment below or send me an email.
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Until next time,
As a school administrator, one of my responsibilities is to deal with discipline. I’m sure I’m not the only one.
It’s not the part of the job I enjoy that much, but I try to use the time I spend with each student to turn it into a learning opportunity, so they leave my office a little smarter and hopefully they won’t continue the negative behavior. I’ve been able to create some positive connections with many of these students who seem to have a difficult time with self control.
Recently, I had a belief of mine confirmed concerning the relationship with student engagement and behavior problems.
I suppose it’s pretty easy to hypothesize that with more student engagement, you will have less behavior issues.
The confirmation of that belief came on a day when we had very important visitors to our campus.
Our district was one of the four finalists for the distinguished Broad Award given out each year, and my school was selected to be one of the host schools where Broad representatives would be using to visit classrooms and conduct interviews with administrators, teachers, and parents from around the district.
It was a great honor to host the Broad committee, but it was also a great responsibility. We spend a lot of time preparing for the day of the visit.
Teachers knew that there would be a possibility that the committee would visit their classes, and they were feeling the pressure. We weren’t told which classrooms would be visited, so teachers were a little stressed out.
The day of the Broad visit came, and we heard that the committee was very pleased with what they saw.
One of my concerns was how it would look if there was a fight on campus or if there were a bunch of students sent out of class for poor behavior.
As it turned, however, on the day of the Broad visit, there was a total of ZERO students sent to me on a discipline referral. That’s right. No students got in trouble on that day. No student was sent out of class for being disrespectful. No student was involved in a fight. No student was sent to the office for being defiant or disruptive.
In contrast, on the second to the last day of school, when many teachers had a “free” day where students could spend the entire period signing yearbooks and hanging out in the classroom, I had too many students to count sent to me on discipline referrals. I suspended four students on that day – a one-day record for me. I spent most of that day getting witness statements, calling parents, and handing out consequences to students.
What’s my point?
The way I saw it, was that on the day when teachers pulled out their best, most engaging lessons, in order to impress the visitors on our campus, there were no behavior problems. On the other hand, on that day when some teachers had no real lesson plan, giving students a lot of freedom, there were more behavior problems to count.
It was a clear confirmation of what most educators believe: An engaged student is not a behavior problem.
A student who is not engaged in a classroom lesson is prone to be engaged in other perhaps more negative behaviors.
When I was a teacher, I had my good days and my bad days. What I can honestly say is that the level of my lesson plan preparation had a direct effect on what kind of day I was going to have. The more I planned, the better days I had. The opposite is true too. If I threw a lesson plan together on the way to work, things didn’t go too well.
A bored student is discipline issue waiting to happen.
As a school administrator, if I want to lower my discipline count, I need to have more of my teachers creating engaging lessons on a more consistent basis.
How do I do that?
I found this to be a pretty interesting study on the relationship between student engagement and behavior. Now I have to take what was revealed to me and use it to improve the level of engagement in the classroom.
Wish me luck.
Hope this post was helpful.
If it was, please share it with your friends and followers.
Until next time,