Enough is Enough

Sometimes my educational philosophy and my sanity are at odds. The foundation of my philosophy is that every child, no matter what, has a right to a quality education. This seems simple enough until you have a student who refuses to show basic respect for the classroom community. When a child is drawing all over their desk or crawling on the floor or shouting out constantly there comes a breaking point where you say, "Enough is enough." At this point however, the options are pretty much lose-lose.

One option is to try to ignore the student. With luck, they'll just keep themselves occupied without disrupting the other students too badly. In most cases, a disruptive student is looking for attention. Depriving them of that, even in an extreme case of misbehavior, can sometimes neutralize the situation.

The other "option" is to kick the student out. This has happened when I have run out of patience and creativity. There seems to be no other solution so it's time for the kid to go - to the AP's office, to another classroom, to the parent coordinator/de facto disciplinarian of my school - anywhere outside of my classroom. This sends a message that the student has gone too far and they have lost their place within the classroom community.

The problem with both of these options, is that the student isn't learning. Whether they're pouting in the corner or doing extra work in another room in the school, I've failed. As a novice teacher I think I need to accept this as an eventuality. Sometimes for the greater good of the classroom, the disruptive student has to lose out. They've made their choice to opt out of the classroom community by not following basic rules of respect. And yet, I wish there was a way to enforce an "ultimate consequence" that didn't preclude a student from learning at any time.

Comments

amber said…
As a first year teacher, I struggle with this on a daily basis. At first, I thought it would be cruel to send them out, because there are clearly so many other factors at work- need for attention, need for connection, need for control, need to be IN my classroom, really. But it's true: rules exist for a reason. When they are broken, you have to enforce a consequence. And for all the other kids in your class who are choosing to do the right thing, sending that child out of the room is sometimes the fairest thing to do.

It's hard and it's not right all the time, but you are right. Some days, enough is enough.

And just think- tomorrow is a new day. Maybe the kid will choose to follow rules and be able to stay in your room tomorrow...
Rebs said…
I've taught for 6 years and still struggle with sending a student out....but, like you said, sometimes enough is enough, and you will burn out if you don't have some limit. It sounds as if you have tried every option with your students before resorting to removing them from the classroom, and I think that is the most important thing. And like Amber said, tomorrow is a new day and maybe your student will make better choices tomorrow....:) That's what's great about teaching - endless optimism
samax said…
unfortunately, the current structure doesn't leave you much more room than that. there's no way for you to stop the train to address this one student's issues.

sounds like you are doing the best you can. when you stop caring, please quit...
jonathan said…
That you haven't succeeded at that moment is not the same thing as failure. Otherwise we would all fail for those instants when kids stop listening to pick their nose or to notice some part of their neighbor's body. Epic failure when a smelly fart leads to screams and ewws and giggles. And when the kids notice it's snowing out. That snow, your fault?

If a security guard is good 98% of the time, but 2 days in 100 lets thieves in, fail.

But we are teachers. We should judge what we do as process. And while things can go badly in the moment, we should not judge ourselves there.

Jonathan
jd2718
There's no easy answer to this. I struggle sometimes with the idea of kicking someone out. Are they being too disruptive? What is the level?

Some teachers kick kids out for small infractions. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Depends on the teacher. It's a strange thing really.

Every kid I've kicked out there seems to be the constant problem that they aren't learning. When they get suspended, they don't show up, and don't do the work I meticulously made time to copy for them.

Keeping a disruptive kid in the classroom hurts the environment, and over time, most kids understand that, and are begging for that kid to go. Eventually, they either realize this or pipe down, or never come back.

Which is sad...in a way...but what else is there you could do?
I've struggled with this, but I feel like it's less and less a struggle lately.

I believe that every child can learn. But I am over the hubris of believing that every child can learn from me. I'm a human being, with limitations.

Somewhere around the third day in a row of a student finding "inventive" ways to insert the N-word into children's songs during the lesson, I no longer worry about that student's learning. I worry about the 5 students with IEPs who desperately want to learn and are desperately trying to focus on learning, and the fact that "And ____ was his name-o" and the ensuing uproar are making their success impossible.

But I still empathize completely.

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