In a recent article in the Huffington post the editor reported that, “…students were less likely to face exclusionary discipline when taught by teachers who look like them.” Exclusionary discipline is referring to suspension, detention, or expulsion. When it’s all said and done it’s all about understanding. Unfortunately, in education when it comes to discipline, teachers are the least patient. To our defense, there are several reasons that teachers take this pose: extreme working conditions, large class sizes, frequent changes in the responsibilities, lack of support and list goes on; nonetheless, lack of patience is one characteristic that we cannot afford to lack. In many cases, the teacher is a student’s last resort, towards everything. Teachers are the people who students confide in when they are in trouble. Teachers are the ones students invite to come to after extracurricular events to make them feel significant. Teachers are the ones that hold the last word of hope that can propel them to the next phase of their lives. So without patience, a teacher can’t “cut it” in the classroom.
In education, discipline is important. What is importanter (i teach math, lol), what is more important is how “we” discipline our students. There are two ways to look at discipline: to punish or to teach. Many teachers “punish” unwanted behavior. I believe the best way to discipline is through using that instance as a teachable moment.
Our job is to TEACH. As much as I hate to hear students ask, “When will I use this in the real world?” What they learn from the way we discipline our students is a definite life skill. If done properly it makes them conscious of societal rules and shapes their ideals of disciplining their future children. When we discipline irresponsibly, by punishing, we make true the Classroom to Prison Pipeline theory.
We have to take out time to get to understand our students especially the students most different from us. Because the diversity in hired professionals is so disproportionately balanced to the students, so many of students actions are lost in translation. The reason more minority students are suspended than their white counterparts has a lot to do with the irresponsible discipline that takes place in the classroom.
Suspension is the quick fix to nothing but the classroom population for the moment. Suspension is sometimes the best option in certain situations to handle the breaking of school code, but even still, we have to have some type of reentry system in place to salvage the teachable moment during their time out. Being African-American and male, I empathize with three groups of students: the minority males, the minority females, and the boys. As a result, some actions in a class period that would otherwise be a punishable offense in another class is handled more carefully. It is not because I don’t want them to get into trouble, but because most actions that take place in the classrooms that are negative are reactions to something that happend prior to the outburst and I am willing to do some extra investigating before dropping the hammer. So I use it as a teachable moment to show students how better to handle their situations. As a result I gain more respect from my students and they are more likely to listen to directives that will curtail negative behavior at anytime. You become their tranquilizer at times when they are most impossible to manage.
We must be willing to drop our guards in our classrooms, sympathize with our kids, listen to what they say and don’t say. Then you will find that suspension in many cases wasn’t the answer, a conversation was.
1)Klein, Rebecca.”Black Students Are Less Likely To Get Suspended When They Have Black Teachers”. http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_581788e0e4b064e1b4b4070a