It can be tricky for a school to decide which form of discipline will be most effective. Many schools have traditionally placed students who are too troublesome for the classroom on suspension, but this isn’t as great an option as you might think. One school is trying something new – and it’s working!
Huntington East Middle School, located in West Virginia, was having a tough time as the district underwent structural changes. “When we started combining schools we had a lot of kids getting in trouble and getting suspended,” school parent Stephanie Powell shared with WOWK.
Combining classes, or even increasing the number of students in each classroom on a given school year, can add a lot of stress to an already demanding environment. This can be tough for the school on all levels, from the teachers to the administration.
The school began to look for other ways to address the problem. They began to suspect that suspension wasn’t as effective a punishment as it might seem. Well, it turns out that they were right!
When they began to inquire into the reasons why so many students were being suspended, the school was shocked at what they found. Students viewed suspension as a break from school, and some even planned for it! It became the school’s top priority to decrease the amount of suspensions and disruptive incidents that occurred each year.
The school found an effective way to accomplish this goal without any violence, verbal abuse, or additional cost to the district. The simple solution: invite the parents to school for a reverse suspension.
It worked like a charm. According to principal Frank Barnett, this option has cut down school suspensions by two thirds and disruptive influences by one half. Those are some stellar results!
It isn’t hard to see why the solution is so effective. “Who as a parent wants to sit in class?” Stephanie wondered aloud. “It’s embarrassing. It’s a good motivator not to have your parents come and sit with [you].”
In the eyes of a young student, a day at school with a parent is nowhere near as exciting as a day at home alone. It also places an extra burden on the student. If the child acts out, the parent will be right there to witness it, and you can be sure a conversation will be coming later.
“I was suspended multiple times last year. But this year, not once,” explained student Justin Young, whose mom accompanied him to school on a reverse suspension the previous year. Justin said that after their day at school together, his family had a talk.
“She wanted to know if I acted like that when she was not around,” Justin told WOWK. “I said, ‘No, because I wanted to be good for you.'”
Justin’s experience was shared by many students. Principal Barnett observed that 30 families opted for reverse suspensions this year. The school is hoping to eliminate student-planned at-home suspensions as much as possible.
“We try to avoid that at all costs,” the Principal confirmed, “but there are times it cannot be avoided.”
While it might be true that not all students will be motivated to act more disciplined, the school has seen overwhelming success. The reverse suspension solution might prove to be even more effective as the years go by. Only time will tell.
There may be other ways to motivate students to act better in the classroom. PBIS Rewards encourages teachers to spend more time with problematic students. “When teachers spend two minutes per day for ten days with an at-risk student, it builds a relationship based on trust and respect. Students respond to educators they feel are really listening to them.”
PBIS also encourages teachers to have empathy for students who are frequently disruptive. Validating the student’s point of view can go a long way in helping him or her to feel heard. “A listening ear is often what students crave most,” PBIS informs its readers. “Having an adult to help them work through issues can empower students in numerous ways.”
Along the lines of this reasoning, it would even be helpful for parents to listen to students’ frustrations about their day in school or anything else that may be bothering them.
Our educational system is shifting to be more accommodating to its students. It is encouraging to see creative programs like Huntington East Middle School’s reverse suspension program. By better helping our youth, we are paving the way to a brighter future.
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Source: The Blaze