The most effective forms of discipline require teachers to reach out and offer support to students who are struggling, writes guest author Franky Price.
As a young boy, school was a separate world from what I experienced at home. The world of school offered stability, safety and, in its own subtle way, love.
Growing up, I didn’t intend to cause trouble in school, but I was a class clown — I always had the classroom dying from laughter every time I spoke.
In fifth grade, my actions one day had serious consequences. My mother had told me that when I am upset, I should write down my feelings and vent on paper. On this day, I felt unstable and so I pulled out my college ruled notebook paper, whipped out my No. 2 pencil and vented away! After another student saw what I was writing, I ended up being sentenced to an emergency expulsion.
This was my first experience with such a high level of discipline, and I was surprised because I didn’t picture myself as the type of person who gets expelled.
I’ve always understood the need for discipline in the classroom, but I disagree with the way it’s carried out. Students should never be suspended — period. Most kids don’t want to be at school anyway, so suspending them can be a treat rather than a punishment. Expelling and suspending students will only keep them behind and destroy their motivation.
Although I was expelled, I’ve also had positive interactions with adults at school. I thank God for the teachers and staff who took their time to know and understand me as a person and learn what was going on in my life outside of school. If they never interceded into my life, I guarantee I would not be graduating from high school.
Unfortunately, not every student with behavior problems will open up and be honest. Teachers and those who have authority within the school system must try to understand why these students struggle with maintaining good behavior. For that student who does open up, be strong for him because you might just be the strongest person he has to depend on.
Discipline doesn’t always have to mean suspending a kid or giving detentions. Discipline can also be loving students and working beside them to find better solutions to their problems.
Franky Price is a senior at Chief Sealth High School in Seattle and will graduate this spring with the Class of 2015.