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!