Teacher Support

When Waiting for a Disciplinarian

In one of the schools I taught, they had a system for contacting an administrator for a student behavior problem. First you had to go through a set of procedures you yourself employed before calling the Dean. If none of those worked and the behavior posed either a safety threat or interrupted your instruction, then you could call a Dean to come to your class. The problem was that there wasn’t a guarantee that a Dean would be available. The reason why was because a number of teachers had classroom management issues. Some teachers were poor classroom managers. Some teachers were ill-equip to teach the students in his or her classroom. In either case, it comes down to being a problem for administration to fix. If the teacher is a poor classroom manager, get that teacher some training. If training doesn’t work, then you replace that teacher – you can know your content from alpha to omega; if you cannot control your room, you’re no help to anyone. If the teacher is ill-equip to teach the students or a set of students, choose to remove the teacher or students and find the right match for them. SpED students shouldn’t be with a teacher who hasn’t had the training to teach them; unfortunately, it happens quite often in urban schools, traditional and charter. If there are students who are limited in their English proficiency, or cannot speak English at all, they should be taught by bilingual teachers or placed in a bilingual program within the school. I am not for isolating or marginalizing students, I am for smart educational decisions that make sense for student academic success and boosting their confidence.

With that said, administrators may make decision according to budgets and performance objectives that put you in a situation where your classroom management is just as much the focus of class as the lesson you’re teaching. You may find yourself in a situation where you have a problem that you need to call someone to get a student but no one is available. So what do you do? Maybe it is a situation where you want to call an administrator to reset the classroom. Maybe you are just tired of the kids and you need a break… First, let me say that calling an administrator cannot be your first and most used recourse for addressing undesired behavior in the classroom. You have to assert yourself as the disciplinarian in your room or you will get little to know respect form your students. Also, if you keep calling administration for every “disturbance” you will be designated the boy who cried wolf – and when you actually need an administrator, they won’t believe you. Here are some general rules for what when and when not to call an administrator in any given situation:

WHEN TO CALL AN ADMINISTRATOR

  1. IF THERE IS A FIGHT
  2. IF A CHILD IS PHYSICALLY INJURED
  3. IF A CHILD IS DAMAGING PROPERTY OR HAS DAMAGED PROPERTY
  4. IF A CHILD IS INSUBORDINATE AFTER EMPLOYING VARIOUS TACTICS TO GAIN THEIR COOPERATION (at least 3 to 5 different strategies employed)
  5. IF A CHILD LEAVES YOUR CLASSROOM WITH PERMISSION

WHEN NOT TO CALL AN ADMINISTRATOR

  1. IF A CHILD IS GETTING ON YOUR NERVES
  2. IF A CHILD DOESN’T LISTEN TO YOU AFTER THE FIRST OR SECOND TIME
  3. IF A CHILD IS PERCEIVED AS DISRESPECTFUL
  4. IF A CHILD FAILS TO DO THEIR CLASSWORK OR HOMEWORK
  5. IF A CHILD IS TOO TALKATIVE
  6. IF A CHILD DOESN’T DO WHAT YOU ASKED THE FIRST TIME YOU ASKED THEM TO
  7. IF A CHILD IS OUT OF UNIFORM
  8. IF A CHILD REFUSES TO PAY ATTENTION IN CLASS

If you happen to call an administrator to your room and one is unavailable, there are some strategies you should use. We’ll take the four rules for when to call an administrator; if an administrator fails to show up, here is what you should do:

ACTION STEPS:

  1. IF THERE IS A FIGHT
    1. Separate students
      1. Option 1
        1. Send 1 student to the hallway and have the other remain in the classroom.
        2. Stand in the doorway to watch classroom and two fighting students and wait until an administrator arrives.
      2. Option 2
        1. Call another classroom and ask to send 1 student there. Keep the other student there. Continue with instruction.
      3. Get someone else to come to your room
        1. Option 1 – Send 1 reliable student to the main office to alert and retrieve an administrator.
        2. Option 2 – Call a school counselor or other instructional staff member who is available to escort student(s) to the main office.
      4. Document what happened in an incident report.
        1. Call the parents to inform them of what happened at the end of the day.
  2. IF A CHILD IS PHYSICALLY INJURED
    1. Do not touch the student.
    2. Have other students give the student space.
    3. Call the school nurse.
    4. Send 1 reliable student to the main office to alert and retrieve an administrator.
    5. Document what happened in an incident report.
      1. Call the parents to inform them of what happened at the end of the day.
  3. IF A CHILD IS DAMAGING PROPERTY OR HAS DAMAGED PROPERTY
    1. If the child continue to damage the property
      1. Do not attempt to stop them.
      2. Send 1 reliable student to the main office to alert and retrieve an administrator.
      3. Call the student’s parent immediately in class (either on your school phone or cell phone) and allow them to speak to student in front of the class.
        1. If parent does not answer:
          1. Leave a message.
          2. Wait for administrator to arrive.
      4. Document what happened in an incident report.
      5. Call the parents to inform them of what happened at the end of the day.
    2. If the child is no longer damaging the property
      1. Remove the student from the damaged area. If they refuse to move, leave them there.
      2. Send 1 reliable student to the main office to alert and retrieve an administrator.
      3. Continue with instruction.
      4. Document what happened in an incident report.
      5. Call the parents to inform them of what happened at the end of the day.
  4. IF A CHILD IS INSUBORDINATE AFTER EMPLOYING VARIOUS TACTICS TO GAIN THEIR COOPERATION (at least 3 to 5 different strategies employed – e.g. proximity, verbal warnings, in-class consequence, and give a quick drink or bathroom break)
    1. Call the student’s parent immediately in class (either on your school phone or cell phone) and allow them to speak to student in front of the class.
      1. Leave a message.
      2. Send 1 reliable student to the main office to alert and retrieve an administrator.
      3. Wait for administrator to arrive.
  5. IF A CHILD LEAVES YOUR CLASSROOM WITHOUT PERMISSION
    1. Continue with instruction and wait for an administrator to arrive.
    2. If the student returns to your room, send them to the main office with a pass to see an administrator – do not let them return without a consequence

These strategies can help you when in the thick of a moment. I am sure that there are some situations that I may have left out, however, these are a great starting point when calculating your decision making if one of these instances were to ever come up in your classroom. I have encountered each of these and I haven’t always gotten it right, particularly when an administrator doesn’t show up. However, along with these strategies, remaining calm and in control has always worked. Sometimes, it took reflection for me to “get it.” Lastly, it is up to your administration to set the administrative consequences for student misbehavior. Be sure to work with them on the behavioral and discipline policies that are necessary to hold students accountable. Faculty and administration are partners. If an administrator cannot come to your room immediately, do not think the worse. However, be sure to protect yourself and your students as you give administration a time to get to your room.

Let’s continue to push towards the mark!

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