Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Not sure what to think

Bella came home with a behavior report today - a bad one. She was talking too much (we get reports of that once every couple of weeks or so) and that she wouldn't stay in her seat (that one was new). We discussed it with Bella at length, and told her that she would be punished at home, to which she replied that she had been punished at school. I told her that was only fair, and she said: "My teacher told the class to give me and (another student) a round of applause since, because of us, the whole class lost recess for 13 days".

I don't really like that she is doling out a group punishment with the blame placed on two children that she named to the class. It isn't fair to the other students, for one. I agree that Bella needed to be punished, go ahead and use her as an example, certainly - if you want to tell the class that because of the way she acted Bella lost recess for 13 days, that's fine with me. But to name her and another student specifically and point out that it is their fault that the entire class lost recess - and for 13 days, which seems like a long time - well, I don't think that is appropriate. I would guess that the point of a group punishment would be the hope that other class members would try and encourage the students to stop misbehaving, but I think that is a little over the head of first graders. For older children, I could see how that could work - with older children, peer pressure is a huge incentive, so risking the displeasure of fellow students is anathema.

I also know that self-preservation is a strong instinct, especially among children, so there is always the possibility that Bella is not telling the truth. However, I don't think she could make up the phrases that she used - 'round of applause' is not in Bella's vocabulary. And I asked her the one question that is guaranteed to eke the truth out of her - "If I go ask (teacher's name) whether that happened, will she tell me the same thing you just told me?". Bella normally crumbles under such logic, but when I said that tonight she just said, "Yes, that's what she said - you can ask her". Hmm.

My first thought was to send an e-mail to the teacher, thanking her for letting us know about Bella's behavior and letting her know that we are working to correct it, and then nicely asking the teacher about the situation. I'm not going to CC the principal or anything, and I'm not expecting anything to come of it, but I would like her to know that I think there is possibly a more appropriate way to handle that situation. But I am going to wait until tomorrow - I'm going to sleep on it.

I must add that, while this would bother me slightly under normal circumstances, I wouldn't be so troubled by it if my husband had not mentioned it to his parents. They were immensely bothered by it, thus making my position a little more awkward. My FIL even asked if I wanted him to handle it - I quickly assured him that would not be necessary, and that I would take care of it. Don't mess with their grandbabies!

Sigh. It will all work out - I'm sure of it. Small potatoes, as my Grandma would say. Don't sweat the small stuff. I'm going to lay on the sofa and read and forget about all of this. Good night!

**UPDATE: I didn't do anything. Sending an e-mail would have accomplished nothing. I could express to her that I felt her actions to be innappropriate, and it would change nothing. It's almost the end of the year, anyway - Bella has another month or so in this teacher's class, so there doesn't seem to be much of a point in stirring the pot. No hard feelings, just glad that this school year is drawing to a close. It's almost over!


T with Honey said...

Taking recess away from the entire first grade class for 13 days is a bit extreme. Those kids need that release during the day. Can you imagine being cooped up in a classroom, not getting a chance to run and play, doing nothing but learning at age 6 or 7? Everyone will be so stir crazy they won't be learning as well.

Yes, it sounds like Bella and the other child do deserve some kind of punishment but this sounds a bit extreme. I'm also not really comfortable with the idea of teachers using peer pressure in any form. Could this be how bullies get started? Just a thought.

Laura said...

If you basically like this teacher, you still may want to let her know what Bella told you. I am grateful for the lessons I have learned in teaching. I am far from perfect. One time I told a student, who came to me to find out what she missed while she was absent, that she wasn't following the procedure which is to call her homework buddy.
I was VERY busy when she asked me and I was not thinking.
Her mother emailed me and told me how hurt the student was especially since the reason she missed class was to attend her grandmother's funeral.
I felt like an idiot.
I apologized to the student, the mother, and the father.
Yeesh. Did I learn a lesson that day!!!
I think there is a loving way to tell a teacher that he/she made a poor choice.
You may save some future student from the same humiliation. Then again, if the teacher is too prideful, she may just ignore you but I could see some other parent fuming about an incident like that.
You are kind to put it into perspective.

Jennifer said...

I agree with T. If the whole class isn't getting recess, the only one really being punished is the teacher. (They get recess all the way through 12th grade here!)

Y'know, teaching and retail is a lot alike. Sometimes you just have a bad day and end up doing something that might not have been the smartest thing to do.