Friday, March 4, 2011


DSC_9831photo © 2009 D Wallis | more info (via: Wylio)

I hate having confrontations with students, but I won't ignore obvious defiance of rules. I am very clear at the beginning of the semester about rules and the consequences of breaking them. And because I am fair and deal with broken rules on a case by case basis,  I don't usually have any trouble.

Two that I deal with the most are building policies: tardies and cell phones. Cell phones are to be off and out of sight (if they are on silent, I can live with that). You get one "freebie" tardy, after that it's a detention. One half hour. With me.

I have actually formed nice relationships with some former students who habitually broke that rule. It's a nice time to get to know a kid without anyone around.

But the young man yesterday is another story. He's what I call an N.R.A kid--No Rules Apply. When he was tardy a month ago, I reminded him that the next one would result in detention. Yep--he knew. Until yesterday.

When he blew in the room as the bell died down, I simply said, "Second tardy. You owe me a half hour". And the war began--well, at least on his side. He gave millions of reasons why he wasn't tardy, why it was my fault (I made him pick up a bottle that was thrown from his group, which of course, he didn't throw) and why he wasn't serving detention.

I sent him to the hall and explained to the rest of the class the next speech they would be working on. I think I saw relief on the faces of some as they realized I wasn't going to battle with him instead of getting down to the business of school.

Once the rest were started the young man and I walked to the office. We were met by the At-Risk/Ass't Principal. She has been dealing with him since the beginning of the year--and is a friend of the young man's parents and myself. I explained my side and left her to deal with him. I hate "dumping" my problem children on anyone else, but sometimes, there is no other choice.

So this morning, this is bothering me. Was I unfair? Should I extend the tardy zone to outside the room? How am I going to repair the relationship with this young man?  Time will tell.

I hate confrontations with students.


  1. Dont people have a natural tendency to second guess themselves when it potentially is hurting another? Similar to disciplining your own children. I know I do. I wouldn't fret too much about it. Rules are rules. Yes some are meant to be broken or bent but if this rule of yours normally works, why change it?

  2. I read with interest this morning about Brigham Young University's student basketball player, who knowingly violated the honor code they have to sign, confessed and was suspended from the team. This might just be another sports story except for the first time in years, BYU had a shot at the national championship. Now they'll be lucky to get into the playoffs, all because of the suspension of this young man. I read about all this in the LATimes (lead sports story) as the column writer was lauding BYU's adherence to the rules. Apparently so many other schools turn a blind eye to infractions of their star players so the team can continue to remain in play.

    I think of my father's comment (a university prof) that the university was bigger than just one person. That idea--that I'm working for a bigger picture--has helped me collar students on infractions of rules (I, too, have a healthy set), and gave me the courage to fail the very first plagiarizer I encountered.

    You are doing good, helping the students develop good habits. Being on time is a good habit--just ask the young woman in my last class whose grade was dropped a complete letter grade for her excessive tardies (she was on time only twice in the semester). I'm sure she wishes she'd a someone like you her life.

    Elizabeth E.

  3. Thanks for the supportive comments! The young man was on time today--as were his friends. Hopefully, we have no more of the rule breaking. I wouldn't really change my rules because I believe in the validity of them, but wow, sometimes it just doesn't seem worth it....

    In checking this student's attendance yesterday, I was the third class he was tardy for that day. In one, he was tardy 4 days in a row. Why am I the only one giving him a detention?

    Anyway, happier thoughts tomorrow. It's the weekend!

  4. You are teaching life skills, not just about being prompt. You are also teaching respect and how to work with people in authority. I look at our society and students. I see many N.R.A. kids, sometimes they have parents who have taught them the rules don't apply to them.

    It sounds to me like you are doing a good job,