I had a student today that skated the boundaries of appropriate behavior all period. He wasn’t exactly…overtly misbehaving, but was a continual annoyance. He had done the same thing to the teachers before me and the ones after me. I wrote him up on a negative disciplinary referral. I then spoke to another teacher about how we needed a form to document behavior but didn’t require disciplinary action. Something to give the principal so she could talk to the student or send to the school social worker so we could assist them in improving behavior without punishing them – a “second chance” so to speak. He agreed that we needed something like that and he had often wanted to write a student up without disciplining the student.
Keeping with the theme of “You Matter,” I spoke to my principal about creating a form that a teacher could fill out for a student they want to send to the office but isn’t exactly a negative referral requiring disciplinary action. There are a number of times I have a student that I want to document behavior but don’t want disciplinary action to follow because I don’t think it would motivate the student to change their behavior. I believe sometimes the student just needs to know we care about him/her and s/he just needs to be talked to to see if there is someway we can help. But the student also needs to know that the situation is serious and needs to be handled. I suppose my thought could be summed up in the words of American educator and author, Dr. Marvin Marshall, “Each time you coerce someone into doing something by using your power of authority, you deprive that person of an opportunity to become more responsible.”
The students I work with need to feel they have made an active choice in their behavior, not simply coerced into the choice because of negative consequences. She thought it was a good idea. We’ll see if it comes to fruition. If it does, we’ll have a positive referral, a counseling referral, and a negative referral. I think the counseling referral is a perfect addition in light of making students feel they matter and not simply another problem for some teacher or administrator to fix.
Monday, after I had my “You Matter” Damascene moment, I told my principal about my impression of it and the reaction of the students. After discussing it and reading about it, she decided that we would attempt to implement it school-wide. This afternoon, I introduced it to the faculty during our meeting. We watched about 20 minutes of a video with Angela Maiers and her explaining it. I told them about my experience with it on Monday and how each day has gone since then. Each teacher has a group we attempt to mentor. Prior to this year, it’s always been somewhat weak in results. But we talked about how “You Matter” could impact those mentor groups. We also talked about how “You Matter” and “You have something to contribute to the world” can impact our Friday service projects that we are picking up from last year. Instead of making them service projects that students must do to get out of our program, we talked about how we can use those service projects to show students have something positive to contribute to the community. It was a very positive meeting. The last thing mentioned was changing our school motto. Every morning students say the pledge of allegiance in a school assembly (it’s only 20-40 students, so don’t imagine a huge gym doing this!) and then they repeat the school motto: “I am a very important person! Today I will strive to do my personal best because I AM THE FUTURE! Failure is not an option, excuses not accepted. Excellence is our goal!”