I've Said it Before and I'll Say it Again... We Need Discipline!

*** I've had quite a couple of weeks! First, let me say how thankful I am that the main school where I work has discipline, respect, and appreciation. I am blessed! Secondly, the topic of discipline has come up day after day lately in some of my teacher groups.  True. It is 'that' time of year. But I believe there is another reason... as discipline disappears, problems escalate.  I started this post last week after hearing many of the same conversations of frustration and fatigue.  ***

Veteran, seasoned, experienced (you pick the adjective you prefer) teachers are leaving the profession in droves. Why? They are fighting a losing battle and have decided to hang up their whistles and chalk. They are tired of the lack of discipline. Tired of the lack of support. Tired of working in school systems where they are not appreciated. 

I can't think of anyone that would take on the job of an underpaid, under appreciated, and over-worked educator. Parents are the first to give advice. They seem to know everything there is to know about the best educational practices and how to straighten out the other kids. Administrators seem to be mainly concerned with numbers. Discipline referral numbers. Test score numbers. Budget numbers.   But.. would either the complaining parent or administrator step into the classroom, following the state mandated and district mandated policies, and teach for an entire day. I. Don't. Think. So. 

It is so easy to sit back and offer advice from an isolated office or conference room, but so hard to put it into practice when considering all of the other variables. Sure, we know which kids are bouncing off walls, but we can't force parents to feed their children nutritious breakfasts or get them to bed on time. We can't teach parents how to be good parents. Programs have tried and failed.  You ask any teacher to tell you a story. Then get prepared. You'll hear tales of women who brag about beating the system by giving birth multiple times (with multiple fathers) just to keep the $$$ funds rolling in.   You could be shocked to hear that there are administrators  who refuse to contact parents for fear that a parent might actually be interested enough to come to school and meet with the staff in order to correct their child's behavior.  Or what about the principal that allowed students to engage in dangerous behavior, threatening staff if they intervened, because "we allow kids to be kids at our school." That's right. Someone that is entrusted with the well-being of a child is turning a blind eye to disruptive, dangerous behavior. I could write a book with the things I've seen, heard, and experienced. 

But nothing is more frustrating than trying to teach a lesson and constantly stopping to 'redirect'.  That's the nice word. Some days you could call it crowd control. Reminds me of herding cats.  One sits down and is attentive, while three more pop up out of their seat, and another is leaning across the desk to mark on someone else's paper.  Oh, yes, you could blame the teacher for lack of classroom management. But, you should walk in her shoes before you start throwing out accusations. 

Classroom management only goes as far as support goes. And, these days... that isn't very far.   Kids know that the teacher's hands are tied. They know what they can get away with. They know that their parents have no respect for the teacher. They hear the comments every night at home. They've seen the principal come to the classroom, talk to the teacher for a few minutes in the hall, and the teacher turn to the room with weary eyes. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure it out.  Even the youngest kids have the system figured out. They know that there are only so many consequences a teacher can give  before she has crossed the line of discipline into the land of "damaging my self-esteem."

And parents, I have a word or two for you. Cute only lasts so long. Boys will be boys  until they grow up. And then what? What will you do with the darling daughter who laughs in your face or the teenage boy who ignores your yells? What then? Will you wish that you had supported the teacher when she called you and asked for parental involvement? Will you wish that you have invested some time into this precious gift that you brought into the world? Or do you care that your lack of parenting skills or the desire to use them resulted in a young adult that is neither productive or pleasant? Do you care that you created a person that will depend on assistance for their entire adult life because they cannot function in the real world?  

Sounds harsh. But every word is spoken from a heart that wished parents would stop being the enemy and start working with their child's teacher as a team to help their child grow into a responsible adult.  I know there are some teachers that make the rest of us look bad. And, I know that there are some parents that are supportive and doing a great job raising their kids. But, realistically, you have to admit that there is a problem. 

A problem. That is making teachers turn in resignations and walk away. Teachers that your child needs. Teachers that are interested in helping your child and teach your child. Not just a warm body filling a void.  Administrators, do you want a reliable, experienced staff or a staff with little experience? I know teachers with fewer years in the classroom help out your budget, but do they really pay off in the long-run?  Yes, I was a brand-new teacher once. And, I was blessed to be hired and given a chance so I'm not saying that new teachers shouldn't be hired. I am saying that administrators need to wake up and retain their experienced staff so the newer ones have someone to mentor them.   Someone that can teach them.  Administrators need to stop being afraid of parents and be more afraid of losing a valuable asset- their staff.  

Wake up before the cute kid in kindergarten grows up to be an entitled teenager. Wake up before you look at your staff during a meeting and realize that most of them are young enough to be your child. If you are ignoring discipline issues, you need to get out of education. You don't have the guts for it. 

April is just around the corner...

Too cute to pass up! Easter Traditions!
Don't forget your umbrella!
Fun facts and legends about rain!

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