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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Am I Overreacting?

Today I got the following handout from my son's kindergarten class:

Dear Parents,
In order to support your students academic success the kindergarten teachers are working on developing appropriate classroom expectations in order to prepare them for their continuing education. The following procedures are being put in place for students who are consistently interfering with the educational process. When a student is disruptive and interferes with the learning process three times they will be given a time out outside of the classroom. If the student is removed from the classroom three times over the period of one day parents will be asked to come in for a conference with the teacher and other staff. Attached you will find the form you will receive if and when your child needs a time out in our ISS (In School Suspension) room. We encourage you to discuss these behaviors with your child and reinforce your expectations for their school conduct. We ask that if your child receives this consequence please sign the bottom of the form and return the following day.

Thank you, Kindergarten Teachers

Here is the behavior checklist: calling out, out of seat(excessively), hitting, defiant, disrespectful, refusal to participate/complete work, refusal to follow the directions, throws, spitting, inappropriate language, and arguing with a teacher.

So, I read this, went about my business, but I can't let it go. I don't know, it seems a bit excessive. Is it the word suspension? When I was in school if you had anything to do with suspension you were devastated--the worst possible thing to happen.

I can see time out, I can see having parent/teacher meetings--but being in the suspension room? I'm upset reading it. How is a KINDERGARTNER going to feel?

Calling out?--Does that ever end. Isn't that what a brainstorming session is? I know the teacher can't have continued calling out, I know they need to learn to raise their hands, but to go to the school suspension room for calling out?

Here's the one the worries me: out of seat. At the last conference the teacher said my son doesn't like to sit in his chair, he likes to stand to do his work. She said she has to remind him to sit down. Is he going to the suspension room for that?

I'm all for teaching respect, boundaries, discipline, etc., and I know it is the middle of the year and they should be catching on, but the suspension room?

I could go on and on, but I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Maybe it's just me. Maybe after I hear the other points of view I will see the light. Thanks.

UPDATE: (3/9/09) I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for their opinions and experiences. It has been very enlightening. Please feel free to continue letting me know your thoughts on this subject.

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Unknown said...

I would be inferiorated if that came home with my kindergartener. Many of the behaviors they are describing are typical behaviors that kids learn to work through by the end of kindergarten. I would NEVER expect to have a kindergartener sent to in-school suspension even for a time-out. I don't think that is appropriate at all. I would be calling the principal.

blossomteacher said...

I have to comment from the other side of this. Last year I had a class FULL of violent, screaming defiant, spitting, hitting, kicking, scary kids. I feared for my safety (and I teach in a really good was just a bad year...8 of 16 were absolutely out of control). Our school did not have a set procedure in place for these ultra-severe behavior problems... something like this would have helped. Would I invoke ISS (or some equivalent) for a normal 5-year old who is a little hyper today (or overall)? Heck no. For the ones who just need reminding? Heck no. They aren't "consistently interfering." They are 5, and even a newbie teacher is going to know to use this option lightly and for only the kids who are endangering her or the students. Now granted, I don't like calling it ISS...I don't that's an appropriate term until about junior high, and I certainly hope the little ones aren't in isolation near the older ones. But is your baby going to end up in ISS for standing to do his work? No way on God's green earth. You gotta read between the lines...they are having to "lay down the law" for everyone so that when a kid goes bonkers, there is a procedure, and the parents can't accuse the school of pulling something out of their butt and making up consequences on the spot.

That's just my two cents. Heck, I've already copy and pasted the letter to my principal...we need exactly something like this so those parents don't think we're picking on their child arbitrarily.

Melissa said...

I don't think it's a bad thing at all. I just think it's very bad worded. Obviously, there are problems with behavior and sometimes it's best for the teacher and child if teh child is given a "rest period" in another room for a few minutes. this allows everyone to calm down. I think this procedure is used in many schools, but that note is awful. The teachers must have been angry when they typed it because it comes across sort of rude to me.

Katie said...

No you are not over reacting at all. I mean they're in kindergarten that's where they're supposed to learn stuff like not to call out and sit down etc. I agree that any violent or really disruptive behaviors have to be addressed but come on suspending a kid in K! Usually this type of behavior plan is put in place with individual students as needed not sent home as a blanket not for everyone to read. Sounds like someone got up on the wrong side of the bed!

Anonymous said...

I would have liked to have seen the positive reinforcement aspect of the behavior plan listed in the letter. It could have been written from the positive side and worked in the results of not following the rules in the clasroom. Written this way, a child could have given it to their parents all excited that they were going to be able to receive a reward from school. It would have also put the parents on a positive side of education by reinforcing to their child to be working for the reward.

Anonymous said...

Our district does use ISS in certain situation in both pre-k and kindergarten. However, I believe that this is coming from 2 places; the push down of academics and the decrease in parenting skills in this country (present company excluded of course!). Teachers are forced to teach so much academic curriculum these days they don't have time to deal with the behavior and still meet the incredibly high standards.

Any teacher will tell you that in recent years parents have stopped parenting almost completely and chaos reigns in many homes with the kids in charge instead of the parents. It's not rocket science, just watch SuperNanny and you will see it.

So, we have an increase in standards and a decrease in parenting which is a recipe for disaster in the classroom. I wouldn't take this note personally, it's just a sign of the times. I'm sure it's not targeting your son; not putting your bottom in your chair while you are working would never warrant time in ISS imo.

Sandra said...

I need to say something when I read this. As a former school teacher and as a parent of a child with special needs (I am not implying these kids are), I have noticed some children function better doing work standing up. They have a better range of movement when standing as opposed to sitting.

Young children have not fully developed their peripheral vision. Standing and turning to face their work makes it easier for them to see what they are doing. (Also worth noting: boys seem to develope this later than girls). I learned this from my son's eye doctor.

Hope that this information helps and maybe you can pass it along to the school.

Anonymous said...

I am a school teacher, and I can see where these ladies are coming from. There is obviously a problem with behavior, and they are letting the parents know that they're setting up a new system to deal with it. I am surprised that they call it "in school suspension." That is very different from "time-out." If I were you, I wouldn't be worried about my son being in trouble. If you haven't had a million notes and phone calls from the teacher, she isn't talking about your son. I certainly don't have a problem with students standing up to do their work. I would ask them to sit down if they were in the way of the screen or something, but they wouldn't be in trouble. I hope it works out!

Patti said...

I know I'm a little late to the party here, but I think the direction they are heading is a bad one. Using suspension on young children will only make them immune to that as a threat later. Not only that, but they aren't learning appropriate behaviors, they're being told what NOT to do. There are lots of programs that help teachers teach appropriate behaviors to children. Perhaps what they need is more adults, in which case it's time to ask for parent volunteers.

I'm sure their hearts are in the right place, but that letter seems a little extreme to me. I would probably talk to the teacher and maybe the principal. It's possible the environment isn't set up for those particular children to succeed, and because they are kids who are disruptive it's difficult to see where improvements in the environment or routine could help. Being a teacher with difficult children is so overwhelming sometimes maybe the teachers just need to know that support is available. Can you be that support?