Sutherland for Schools blog
What is a teacher to do when managing the behavior of a child with diagnosed mental illness? After months of requests with no suggestions to be told this late in the year that it is my fault the child misbehaves....and that I need to build "rapport". If I had "rapport" this would not be occurring. This recommendation came MONTHS after he was observed. Then I am told by the counseling staff they do NOT want behavioral updates and would NOT be assisting him anymore. All the teachers that have this child want to cry....for him because he is so unhappy....for the other kids because he impedes their learning.
This from a senior national TFA staffer via Diane Ravitch's blog:
I thought the community forum would feature complaints about principals but it was all about the central office and their unrelenting sabotage of reasonable efforts by principals and teachers to address unacceptable behavior by students, including teacher assaults. This when, acording to the 2014-15 climate survey, over half of secondary students are "always" or "sometimes" afraid at school.
- Criminal acts are regularly ignored by school administration and/or police. I am not sure which. Teachers and administrators need to be told what the law is and how FWISD plans to enforce it. (I was told we have no documentation of the number of referrals to campus police officers.)
- Teachers are kept in the dark regarding laws and district policies dealing with less serious student behavior and believe they are also often routinely ignored.
- Central office staff regularly "call out" schools who issue the most office referrals at principal meetings
- A disproportionate number of troublesome students live outside the school's attendance boundary. But central office staff has instructed principals to ignore this unless the student is "tardy or absent" too much. (Nothing about tearing up the classroom.). Principals need to be encouraged to use their community liaisons or other staff, to identify students who live outside the school attendance area. One elementary school told me they have about 50 students who live in the Crowley school district.
- When students are sent home for significant misbehavior, too many parents of troublemaking students routinely call "downtown" to ask that their student's punishment be rescinded. In turn, principals are pressured to rescind the action. This is a form of bullying by parents.
I am sick and tired of our leaders talking about transforming school districts. We read about some allegedly major changes wrought by various districts. Even worse is the national obsession with evaluating teachers using test scores (this means you too, Texas). The Houston ISD has gained a lot of attention by using test scores to evaluate teachers. Their teacher representatives, the AFT finally got so sick of it a couple of years ago that they brought suit. I understand it will be going to court later this year.
Last night's community meeting was well intended and, except for one complaint about testing, nearly all discussion was about uncontrolled student misbehavior.
Instead of sending letters--or recruiters--to neighboring states which pay starting teachers in the $30,000-$40,000 range, the board faces a proposal from staff which proposes paying $8000 per teacher to let Teach for America to recruit teachers. Our data shows that two-thirds of these teachers will quit after two years, a higher rate than with teachers hired; national data says almost all are gone after three years.
I am holding a community
meeting on Tuesday, April 19th from 7 to 8 p.m. at
This meeting is to receive community input regarding your perceptions of student and staff behavior in our district. Some are below here on my blog and others from phone calls and emails I have received recently.
You can respond by making a comment below, by phoning me at 817-504-3360 or by sending an email to Ann.Sutherland@sbcglobal.net. You will have an opportunity to make statements and to ask questions.
President Ramos and Dr. Scribner are planning to implement Restorative Discipline in six of our schools, but it appears that we need to make some adjustments elsewhere as well.
I hope some of you will attend to help me evaluate the situation.
I received an email from a teacher last week who is concerned about excessive absences at one of our high schools. In her six classes during the first 58 days of the second semester, the average student was out of class for sickness or other family reason an AVERAGE of 5.8 days, or 10% of the school days. days, What shocked me was that the average student was out of class for ANOTHER 10 days for campus activity or trip--thus was gone from the instructional environment an average of 17 days, or 3 days every two weeks.
This post and the comments which follow indicate the board needs to review our practices regarding the deployment of auxiliary staff and the software we use to track student behavior and performance issues.
Thanks to "Enough" for this comprehensive explanation of our bad student behavior:
There is a fundamental problem that infects all of our schools in varying degrees. It actually begins with the youngest students not being properly disciplined, just as can be the problem in our own homes. If you do not establish the boundaries of behavior from the beginning and consistently enforce them, unacceptable behavior continues to escalate with each passing year. Commenters are correct about the disrespect shown to both the teacher and substitutes beginning at the youngest grades. I have been in schools with APs who are very consistent in their discipline with students, including the youngest. What you notice is that when discipline is handled this way you have to deal with a lot less serious misbehaviors as students move up in grades because they have come to know bad behavior will not be tolerated. Then the principals start getting angry visits from parents who don't want to be held accountable for teaching and enforcing appropriate behavior in their children. They threaten going to the news, police or downtown. The principals then cave in and ask the APs to go easier on the students. Pretty soon the disciplinarians are moved or transfer. Children get their sense of security from knowing with certainty where the boundary is. They will continue to bump against it until they are convinced the line is not going to move. Our principals need to start getting the message that they are the guardians of the boundary lines and it is their job to give students a sense of security by not letting them stay outside the boundaries of appropriate behavior and Central Admin needs to support them to do this.
Here is the current ed code requirement for 450 minutes out-of-class time, managed by the teacher, and also the duty-free lunch law (it's one time per week max on that lunch rule!)
These rules need to be enforced for the benefit of our children.
Sec. 21.404. PLANNING AND PREPARATION TIME. Each classroom teacher is entitled to at least 450 minutes within each two-week period for instructional preparation, including parent-teacher conferences, evaluating students' work, and planning. A planning and preparation period under this section may not be less than 45 minutes within the instructional day. During a planning and preparation period, a classroom teacher may not be required to participate in any other activity.
Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 260, Sec. 1, eff. May 30, 1995.
Sec. 21.405. DUTY-FREE LUNCH. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (c), each classroom teacher or full-time librarian is entitled to at least a 30-minute lunch period free from all duties and responsibilities connected with the instruction and supervision of students. Each school district may set flexible or rotating schedules for each classroom teacher or full-time librarian in the district for the implementation of the duty-free lunch period.
(b) The implementation of this section may not result in a lengthened school day.
(c) If necessary because of a personnel shortage, extreme economic conditions, or an unavoidable or unforeseen circumstance, a school district may require a classroom teacher or librarian entitled to a duty-free lunch to supervise students during lunch. A classroom teacher or librarian may not be required to supervise students under this subsection more than one day in any school week. The commissioner by rule shall prescribe guidelines for determining what constitutes a personnel shortage, extreme economic conditions, or an unavoidable or unforeseen circumstance for purposes of this subsection.