Thursday, March 04, 2010

What do you do when students get into trouble on the computers? Gut instinct response in education seems to be, kick them off computers. I get that this knee-jerk response is simply the easy way to deal with the offense, but it makes everything worse.

I had to be gone yesterday. Three of my boys got caught surfing porn, not just mild porn, but something that should have never made it through the filters, something so disgusting, the teacher who saw it won't even describe it to me.

There are so many issues going on.

#1 One of the students was not where he should have been. He is not even in my homeroom, and did not have permission to be in my room, and homeroom teacher had no idea he was gone from her room. If the adults cannot be responsible for the whereabouts of the students, doesn't it seem like we have a larger issue to deal with FIRST?

#2 I have no idea why they were using computers in the first place. The sub apparently was allowing it, but WHY? Let's just allow 13 year olds to do whatever they want whenever they want? Is that our new mantra? This would NEVER have happened if I were here, so why do subs have so much trouble maintaining order? I know it is a tough job, I get that. But if you enforce the rules already in place, maintaining order is much simpler than if you just allow them to do their own thing.

#3 It is unclear which boy did the searching, who was logged into which computer, etc... Fundamentally, it doesn't matter, and I truly believe they should all be held accountable because they could have said something, shut down the computer, or even simply removed themselves from the situation.

#4 All 3 are frequent fliers for lots of minor offenses in lots of locations. Yet, the 'punishment' was 1/2 day suspension and 2 weeks off computers. At some point, we need stiffer penalties for 'crimes'. I hate suspensions, period.. If a kid isn't here, I can't teach them. But at some point, we have to get the message across that school is a priority, and being here is a privilege. We need clearcut, consistent consequences, predictable for parents and students.

#5 The boys are not allowed to use school computers for 2 weeks. Oh great... now how are they supposed to complete their social studies project? We wouldn't take away their pencils if they were drawing inappropriate pictures. Why take away their laptops for inappropriates sites? I can print the materials they need for research, but that is just another thing for me to take care of.

I brought the boys in my room before school and did some major butt chewing. I explained the reason I was gone yesterday, to visit a relative who is dying. I explained my disappointment in their lack of respect for ME to have done that when they were in my room. I tried to talk to them, rationally but honestly. But then again, we've had those conversations before, repeatedly. I don't know what else to do. Talking to their parents gets me nowhere, talking to the boys gets me nowhere. I am left here, trying to figure out how I can be gone, knowing they will be terrorists for the sub.

It's a never-ending issue, with no solution.


Anonymous said...

Wow! That is SO one of the reasons I retired. Computer abuse, social networking abuse, cell phone abuse and the general de-prioritizing of school and adult approval was getting to be more then I could take! I have the greatest respect and sympathy for those of you still in the trenches.

Anonymous said...

Remember when our parents caught us doing something "naughty" and they made us do it to the extreme, i.e. catch us smoking and make us smoke the pack.

Maybe it is time for the extreme. Maybe their social studies project needs to be research the abuse and exploitation of men and women in the porn industry. Not the greed angle, but how they are grossly underpaid, hooked on drugs, etc. Maybe they need to see the "dark side" of their cool little experiment.

Maybe there is some story out there about a porn star who died, etc. You could do the "leg work" for them and teach them a social justice lesson in the end. I am sure this would require parental and administration approval, but it could be a solution to your dilemma.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned that the sub apparently was allowing them to use the computer. The sub may not have been allowing them to use the computer, however, they defied the substitute teacher's request to sign off immediately. Possibly you have never subbed, but many schools are very unsupportive of sub teachers. If a sub has a behavioral issue in the classroom, the dean may pull the student and send them back 10 minutes later only to behave badly again.
Unfortunately, too many students know there are no consequences for acting poorly for the substitute teacher and therefore, they know they can get away with many, many things in the classroom. Unless you are a tenured teacher nowadays or teach in a supportive school, you often have to endure a lot of abuse from students.

cossondra said...

Thanks for the comments, everyone. AS a matter of fact, I have subbed and I do know it is a tough job. Her not handling the problem was just part of the issue, but still, had she not allowed the boy who shouldn't have been there in, he wouldn't have been involved. If she had not allowed the other 2 to sit together, or to use computers, there would have not been a problem. I have the 2 young men separated for a reason. If she has asked them to go back to assigned seats, they would have. But none of that matters, really, because the boys are the ones who violated my trust. It is just frustrating to me that so many variables lead up to them having the opportunity.