"That's a seventh hour for you, Mr. Jamison."
"You just earned a detention slip."
"It's in-school suspension for you."
Take a close look at the language above. What do you
notice about how we choose to describe the places where students are
sent for breaking rules or demonstrating inappropriate behavior? We
often describe these places using "detention," "suspension,"
or similar terms. These words and the Teacher Talk above suggest withholding,
custody, retention, temporary removal, or a withdrawal of privileges.
They have a decidedly punishment-oriented flavor to them.
Our choice of words is important. What we call these
programs affects how we see them. Or perhaps how we see them affects
what we call them. Either way, how we describe them is critical to our
mindset as we design and structure what occurs there.
For instance, imagine that we called the area where students
are sent following inappropriate behavior, "The Responsibility
Room"? Would it alter how we see that place as well as its function?
Would it change what we choose to do with the students who demonstrate
behaviors that land them there? We think it would.
In a Responsibility Room, students would come to learn
lessons in responsibility. This is not unlike a student's going to the
music room to learn music or to the science room to learn science. The
name helps define its function. It helps us create the mindset we bring
to the designing of what goes on there.
In a Responsibility Room, students would be expected
to create a Responsibility Action Plan. That plan would include articulating
the choices the student made that got her there in the first place.
It would require a stating of the problem and a solution the student
is willing to put into effect. Approval by both the student and the
teacher would be necessary.
In the Responsibility Action Plan, the student would
identify and name the specific behavior that was inappropriate and set
a goal for herself to alter it. She would articulate what she will do
next time in place of the inappropriate behavior. This piece of the
plan would be a stating of what she will do rather than articulating
behaviors she will not do. The goal would include specific behavioral
indicators so everyone involved could tell whether the goal was being
attained. Those indicators would be comprised of what the behavior "looks
like" and "sounds like." Each one of those lists would
contain several examples.
Students developing a Responsibility Plan in the Responsibility
Room would list the steps they plan to implement to achieve their goal.
They would put in writing how they will know when they are making progress
on the goal.
Student, teacher, and parents would be required to sign
the Responsibility Plan.
Imagine a phone call to a parent in your school sounding
"Hello. Mrs. Radison? This is Miss Wilson at the
middle school. Richie chose some behaviors this morning that resulted
in a Responsibility Room assignment from Mr. Tanner. That means he has
a responsibility issue to work on for the rest of the day. He's working
on ways to speak more respectfully to other students. He may be bringing
a plan home for you to sign tonight. He's right here and he's going
to tell you all about it. Here's Richie."
If the student follows through on the plan, he is affirmed
and celebrated for his growth in responsibility. If the plan does not
work for the student, or if the student does not work the plan, he is
assigned another Responsibilty Room experience so he can redo the plan.
By changing the name of in-school suspension (ISS) to
Responsibility Room (RR), we change how we perceive it. When our perceptions
change, so do our behaviors. Let's end detention and suspension rooms.
Let's help students take a big step toward responsibility by taking
the first step ourselves. It's time to create the Responsibility Room.
Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are available to meet
with your Discipline Committee or staff to examine this issue in more
depth. A consultation day with one of them could be the jumpstart your
discipline program needs to put the emphasis on responsibility and help
your students take increasing amounts of control over their school lives.
("Teacher Talk: What It Really Means," by Chick
Moorman and Nancy Weber, is available from Personal Power Press at 1-877-360-1277
Preview at Personal Power Press at http://www.chickmoorman.com/books.html.
6. Tip of the Day
If you are attending a summer conference and someone offers
you a breath mint, take it.
7. Did You Know?
A.) A group of recess advocates has organized a grassroots
effort to reinstate recess in elementary school. They sponsor a newsletter,
a national conference, and a Web site at www.ipausa.org/recess.htm .
B.) It's not too early to begin thinking about your back-to-school
staff development program. "Celebrate the Spirit Whisperers"
is a motivational and reenergizing keynote address that leaves teachers
feeling proud to be a professional educator. This reminder about teaching
from the heart and being a soul-model for students is a great way to
begin the year. August dates fill up fast. Call toll-free 877-360-1477
to secure your program today.
C.) Many FREE stories of Spirit Whisperers are available
at www.chickmoorman.com. The Spirit Whisperer Idea Exchange is designed
to recognize Spirit Whisperers and to encourage them to continue to
be light bearers, those who shine light on others whose spirit is covered
with layers of illusion and fear. It is also intended to provide ideas
and techniques that will empower other Spirit Whisperers and enable
them to bring more light to the youngsters they love and serve.
Access the Idea Exchange at http://www.chickmoorman.com/swIdeas.html .
D.) A growing body of research continues to show that
one of the most
important determinants influencing academic success is the effectiveness
of the teacher.
E.) David Elkind, a professor of child development, states,
"There is no research that shows that early academic programs have
a lasting positive impact on children. If fact, studies show that the
high pressure of early academic programs can result in children with
higher anxiety levels and lower self-esteem who are not doing any better
Still, a growing number of parents across the country
are hiring tutors for tots. Enrolling preschoolers in tutoring programs,
these parents believe they are preparing children for school and helping
them become successful.
Could it be that tutors for tots is yet another example
of adults enrolling children in programs that meet the needs of the
parents rather than the real needs of the children?
F.) Spirit Whisperers: Teachers Who Nourish a Child's
Spirit has gone back to press for its third printing. Thank you for
your support and endorsement of this important book. You have proven
once again that the best advertising available is still word of mouth.
8. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You
How important is that thank-you letter? John F. Kennedy
found out when he was running for the Senate in 1952. His staff had
collected 262,324 signatures on nominating petitions from across Massachusetts.
One of Kennedy's campaign managers thought personal thank-you
letters should be sent to everyone who signed the petitions. Although
it cost a lot of money, Kennedy agreed.
One evening on the campaign trail, Kennedy was approached
by a longshoreman who showed him the thank-you note he was carrying
in his pocket. "I've been signing nominating papers around here
for the last 20 years," the dockworker said. "You're the first
guy who ever wrote me a letter thanking me for it."
In 1952, there was a nationwide Republican landslide.
Still, Kennedy beat Henry Cabot Lodge by 70,000 votes. Perhaps those
thank-you letters put him over the top.
Who could benefit from receiving a thank-you letter from
you at the end of this school year? Look over the following list. Are
there people here who could use some appreciation?