Sunday, April 29, 2012

From atop the Soapbox

A Glimpse of Next Week:

Monday, April 30th:  Last day of April (seriously, last day of April)
Tuesday, May 1st:  1st grade Common Core in TIC
Tuesday, May 1st: Boy and Girl Quest 4pm @ Bean Elementary
Wednesday, May 2nd:  Grades 3-5 PLC Assembly @8:45
Wednesday, May 2nd:  Top Teacher Award Dinner 5:30pm
Thursday, May 3rd:  Kindergarten Common Core in TIC
Thursday, May 3rd:  Boy and Girl Quest 4pm @ Bean Elementary
Friday, May 4th:  Grades K & 1 Story Fest
Friday, May 4th:  5th Grade College for a Day at SAU

How do you discipline?

Discipline is a challenging subject in schools.  Picture this, the year is 1999.  People are scared to death that computers will crash and the world would be deemed useless when the clocks strike midnight and bring us into a new millennium!  (Now that we know those people were wrong did they ever apologize for getting people so worked up?)  I digress.  Okay it is 1999, I'm a student teacher in Fremont, Indiana.  My cooperating teacher was Mrs. Easton.  She was a very good 3rd grade teacher.  I loved 3rd grade, students loved being there and didn't question adults.  During my student teaching experience I handled parent/teacher conferences, I taught lessons, I stayed after school and did projects, essentially I did whatever I could to make a good impression.  I was told early on that being a male in an elementary is a blessing and a curse.  The blessing is that discipline will be easier because of your gender.  The curse is that most administrators will place behavioral issues in your classroom.  How true this was!  As I concluded my student teaching experience I'll never forget Mr. Bolenbaugh, the principal asking me to come down to his office.  He wanted me to see something.  He happened to have Casey, a young boy from the room I was student teaching in.  Casey had caused several problems on the bus all year.  I witnessed Mr. Bolenbaugh paddle him.  (I was in total shock...weeks before I watched Fraternity brothers do this to each other, but a nine year old boy?)  Complete Shock!  This event really shaped me.  It made me deeply think about discipline.  The old way was with a firm hand.  Very stern and very authoritative.  If I needed to be, I felt I could do this, but it was not my preference.  My preference was to make sure it wouldn't happen again.  

Now, the deep thoughts, how do I best do this?  As I entered my first year I was against writing sentences and humiliating kids in any way.  I wanted to have consequences, but more importantly consequences that matched up with the violation.  For example, student defaces school property...student either fixes it, replaces it, or gives community service time to the building.  Throughout my 10 years teaching (nine in my own room, one as a student teacher) I handled my own issues 99% of the time.  Occasionally I had the 1% that I needed administrative support, but I always felt that they were "my" kids and I needed to be the one dealing with the issues.  I called parents during school, I emailed, I had students write letters to their parents, anything I could do to get students to feel remorseful and make me believe it wouldn't occur again.  

Then I became principal. Discipline became a major issue.  Here is why, when I was teaching I had a good indication of the "context", as principal I felt as though I had to investigate for a substantial amount of time before feeling comfortable enough to issue consequences.  MY way of disciplining is different, my philosophy is teaching students correct behavior, teaching them right and wrong, trying to get students to see the mistakes they made, ultimately trying to get students to take responsibility.  Now sometimes I must be firm, I must have "old school" consequences like writing sentences, but I do not prefer these tactics.  My preference is making connections with students and teaching appropriate behavior and responsibility.  I'm sure people will disagree with my methods, and I'd be the first to admit I'm still researching to find better ways.  I'll tell you discipline is difficult when you rarely see the incident first hand.  Often times you hear about the incident from multiple sources and then have to decide what truly took place.  My way of disciplining has worked for me, I must treat every situation differently, I can't discipline a kindergarten student the same way I would a 5th grader.  When you get right down to it the goal is educating students, I try and discipline by educating.  The days of paddling are gone.  Students need consistency, clear expectations, boundaries, but most of all love.  Even in disciplining I want the students to know Mr. Gilpin cares.

To finish, my philosophy on discipline is this:  1- make the discipline fit the crime 2- educate the students to why their actions deserve a consequence 3- communicate to parents for support and clarification 4- document discipline so that consequences can be progressive

For the rest of eternity discipline will be an issue of debate.  Schools in some ways are extremely restricted, the debate will go on forever, but my take is this:  have a philosophy, be a strong communicator, don't expect people to always agree with you, and don't make rash decisions.

Great Things Noticed or Heard:

- Friday afternoon I had Tesafaye Starr in my office, he complained of a stomach ache...I offered a cupcake...he accepted.  (Stomach ache???)  Then we proceeded to play Stack the States for 25 minutes!  Tesafaye has the cutest giggle and when the states toppled over he was a real hoot!
- Really enjoyed the 3D rap in Mrs. Garnett's room!  AJ and Rose have great dance moves
- So many cute stories from kindergarten round-up, but Jaylen stole the show when he "Tebowed" after getting finished at one of the stations!  Can't believe he's five years old and TEBOWING!
- Mrs. Valentine's class challenged me to addition math facts.  Very impressed by the speed and accuracy of second graders.
- 3rd graders came back raving about the trip to the zoo!  Words that were flying, awesome, amazing, and fantastic.  Simply reminder to all adults...almost all kids love animals.
- During recess the kindergarten students said they saw a snake, within 5 minutes supposably they saw 50 snakes.  Love the imaginations!
- Witnessed Mrs. Dault without a voice this week.  She did a wonderful job teaching and adjusting with no voice.  Good for her!  Reminds me that the power of flexibility is so important.
- First week of YouTube announcements went extremely well!  Way to Go Deb & 5th grade
- Power went out this week.  Entire building was calm, cool, and collected...great job everyone
- Big Kudos to John Raymond, he tracked down flashlights and helped countless kids in and out of the bathrooms.  
- Happy Secretaries Week to Katie and Pat.  I can attest that they loved all the cards, gifts, well wishes and delicious meals.  Very impressive how everyone pulls together.
- Nice job presenting at the Staff Meeting Breanna.  Great information and the handout was a nice touch.
- Loved seeing forty four balloons in Mrs. Hurt's room!  

Articles worth checking out:

12 Things You Should Be Able to Say About Yourself
How to use Twitter in educational ways
14 great educational apps for kids
10 ways to establish clear boundaries for children
Boy in PJ's, great book and lesson for Upper El.

Videos worth your time:

Teacher Appreciation Story!

The times are changing...

What makes a great teacher?

The cute curiosity of Spring

Panther Pride Picture

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