Friday, June 01, 2012

We've spent a lot of time this year organizing a plan to implement PBIS in the middle and high school next year. In theory, I love the idea of positive rewards for students who are doing what they need to do. I love catching kids being good. I don't think we do that nearly often enough.

On the other hand, I think we need strong, consistent consquences in place for behaviors which are inappropriate. I feel right now as if it's a shot in the dark as to the consequences which will be enforced. For a given action, some students get hammered with a suspension or a lunch detention. For the exact same infraction, another students walks away with nothing more than a scolding of 'don't do that again'. Adolencents crave consistency, insist on fairness, and expect swift and equitable punishment for classmates. They don't understand when their world exhibits inconsistencies. They want to push the limits then, trying to figure out the system. They want to test the boundaries, or lack thereof.

Teaching special ed, I do see some exceptions to the hard and fast rules. However, those exceptions need to be consistent as well. We are not doing anyone any favors by exempting them completely from the norms of our society. When they grow up and become members of the REAL WORLD, no one will care what their label it, what their disability is, or be willing to give them a free pass because of those.

I'm disheartened to see the path we've taken as a society, and as a local district, allowing the students to run rampant, wandering the halls, using profanity, disregarding the dress code, spouting disrespect towards each other and adults, not as exceptions, but as the norm. Back in the good old days, kids were kids, adults were adults, respect was respect, not just expected but enforced. Now we've gone so far the other way on the pendulum, kids think they can say and do anything, with no consequences, except to try to get an adult who does try to enforce the rules in trouble for doing their job.

We have to find a middle ground. I don't want to go back to the 'children should be seen and not heard' days, but I sure would like to see us transition back to where there is a clear distinction of authority and hierarchy in schools. Empowering students is one thing, disempowering teachers is another. Surely we can give students the rights they deserve, while still, preserving the integrity of a school that maintains a certain standard of behavior.

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