Uniting School Administrators to Create a Better World

Determining the Appropriate Consequence

As I journey toward School Administration Mastery, I’m finding that I have to deal with a lot of discipline.

Students are being sent to me for a variety of reasons ranging from being disrespectful to teachers to fighting in the locker room.

The way it works is that a teacher will send a student to my office, and I’ll have to hand out consequences for the poor behavior.

The procedure for this process is basically the same – Get the teacher’s report, listen to the student’s story, counsel the student about why what he/she did was wrong, talk about better choices, give the appropriate consequence, and call parents if necessary.

The toughest part of this process is determining what is the appropriate consequence.

There are easy calls for fighting, bringing a weapon or drugs on campus, etc.

But when the student is sent to me for defiance or class disruption, I have to use my judgement to give appropriate consequences.

You want to do what’s best for the student, but you can’t be too lenient or else the teachers won’t feel supported, yet you can’t be to harsh, because you want the consequence to be more than just punitive. You want this incident to become a learning moment for the student.

Here are the questions that I try to answer before handing out consequences.

1. What is in the best interest for the student?
2. What message will my consequence send to the teacher and staff?
3. What message will my consequence send to the student’s peers?
4. Does the student have prior behavior incidents in his/her record?
5. Are there other influences that may have had an effect on the student?
6. Does the student have a learning disability, and was the behavior a result of his/her learning disability?
7. Is the teacher one who is quick to send a student out of his/her class or does the teacher only send students to the office after exhausting all classroom interventions?
8. Did the incident cause a severe disruption in the learning environment of the other students in the class?
9. Did the students express regret for his/her actions?

I then consider the different consequences that I have at my disposal:

1. Warning
2. Lunch Detention (1-5 days)
3. After-School Detention
4. Saturday School
5. On Campus Suspension (1-2 periods)
6. On Campus Suspension (whole day)
7. Off Campus Suspension

Handing out consequences is not something that I’m comfortable with. I would hate to get the reputation of being “The Hammer.” I want to be able to find out just what caused the student to be disruptive, so I could work on resolving the base issue. Unfortunately, there are just too many outside circumstances for me to fix in that short time. I keep trying, however.

It’s important that I hand out a consequence, because I have to send a message to the student, his/her peers, and the staff. If I allow the student to “get away” with doing something wrong, then it will send another kind of message – It’s OK to be defiant or a disruption.

Also, some teachers tell me exactly what they believe is the appropriate consequence, and often it’s way too punitive. They want me to hammer the student, and get upset when I don’t give the consequence they asked for.

An experienced administrator helped me with this one. He said, “Once they give the student to you, they surrender all rights to the student consequences.”

Many times the teacher is just frustrated, and in the heat of the moment wants the student to be punished to the full extend of the law.

As an administrator, we see things from a different, and a more emotionless point of view.

Calling parents is another facet of my journey toward school administration mastery. I’m getting better at communicating bad news to parents, and I’ll share what I’m learning in my next post.

I hope these posts are being helpful to other new and soon-to-be administrators.

If they are, I would appreciate it if you would share them with your followers and friends.

I am always looking for new ideas and tips to make my journey even smoother. Please add your comments.

Until next time,


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