Remove Zero Tolerance and Give a Chance

The Skiba article addresses the idea that zero tolerance is a failed policy. While mainly talking about the USA, Skiba notes that schools need not get rid of strategies for dealing with unruly students, but need to find better tools. One tool that he brings up in the article is the conflict circle. I see this as very similar to sentencing circles that are used in the First Nation’s communities here in Canada. He also makes mention that schools who have gotten rid of the zero tolerance school have actually done better in an academic standing.

While many educators are on the side of zero tolerance, I have always been a very forgiving and accepting person. There is room to give students another chance at education, but with some proper tools as Skiba said. There is more than just the curriculum that needs to be learned at school; there is a need to help students become socially responsible and engaged citizens. While these skills can be acquired outside the school, inside offers a safer environment where they can fail without penalty.

The article focuses on students who may have been involved in violence (fights) or bullying. The author also lists some things that could help integrate these students back in and not send them into the “school-to-prison pipeline”. It was said that minorities were more at risk for expulsion and thus are also over represented in American prisons. By removing the zero tolerance policy, we make the school more equal for everyone. Everyone has some right to education and if students are acting out, then the school needs to adjust the strategies it is using. This will create a more anti-oppressive environment. One thing that resonated with me was this idea of talking to the student about the harm their behavior has caused rather than slapping the rule book down in front of them. This allows them to see the pain and damage their act has caused and removes some of that authoritative tension. Interestingly, he also mentions giving these students specific formative feedback about their behaviors and social skills. Having students hear and see this feedback can help them take ownership in the changing process, in the same way that doing this in the classroom helps students.

One large idea I took away from this article was getting to know your students’ lives outside of school. An educator that I talk to on occasion always mentions that the “bad students” really get along with her. She takes the time to talk to those students and get to know their stories and that obviously means something to them if they keep coming back to her. This sort of care is something I want to give in my classroom. It doesn’t take too much time from your day to speak with the students and ask them about their life, goals, and interests. Having someone care can go a long way for someone. Keep students in the classroom!


The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Classroom Use

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Classroom Use

This is a wonderful text that should be used in your classroom today! It is told through the eyes of a nine year old boy, Bruno, and captures the innocence of children in a bad situation. There is a strong themes of Identity and Relationship throughout the book. It works great for a cross-curricular collaboration with subject areas like: Social Studies, Law, and Psychology.

Daily Prompt: New Sensation

Daily Prompt: New Sensation.

Ah, sweet youth. No matter whether you grew up sporting a fedora, penny loafers, poodle skirts, bell-bottoms, leg-warmers, skinny jeans, Madonna-inspired net shirts and rosaries, goth garb, a spikey mohawk, or even a wave that would put the Bieber to shame, you made a fashion statement, unique to you. Describe your favorite fashions from days of yore or current trends you think are stylin’.

Photographers, artists, poets: show us FAD.

*Supplied by The Daily Post

I thought I would go the picture route for this prompt. Lolita fashion is more interesting to look at than to read about. Feel free to link a picture or comment with a description of your own style.

loli look

We All Assess

We are always trying to assess in our lives. It would be strange for a human being to not naturally self-assess and judge the things around them. People from every culture have followed the sociological pattern of assessment for years. However, that does not mean that every person using the same method or tools for assessment. I believe that it is very healthy to self-evaluate and find ways to improve. If people didn’t improve at the skills they acquire, there would be very little advancement in human civilization. While it is important to check our own progress, we also need to involve others in the process who are perhaps more advanced at that certain skill. This promotes collaboration and helps develop a need for wanting to excel. However, people need to also be trained in how to properly assess so that we avoid making uncalled for judgements of others and of ourselves. I think students learn a great deal about this process while they are in the education system. They learn how assessment can push them towards mastery of skills. It is important that teachers model proper assessment with helpful formative feedback. Merely taking summative assessments of students work while not show they growth that they are having and will not show what areas they may need help in. We are here to help students master to the best of their ability certain skill sets before they leave to go learn something new. If students are shown how to properly assess themselves and others, they can work together to reach their goals and to learn important social skills. Teachers must also remember to assess their own skills to make sure they are learning along the students.

Not every student is going to love the subject area we are teaching and every theme we present to them, but we need to strive towards showing them the importance of the content and how it connects to their lives. Students who feel connected to their work will take more ownership over it and work hard to master it. We need to offer differentiated assessments in our classroom. This will give all students equal opportunity to shine and feel proud of their work. However, we need not be afraid of assessing students in their weaker areas. To do this we need to use a variety of formative assessments and give students adequate feedback on how they might improve. If students are consistently being tested on skills that they have already mastered, they may neglect the ones that still need to be strengthened. As students face different formative assessments and work with the feedback provided, we can reach a point where they are ready to showcase their new-found knowledge with a summative assessment. This way students will not feel cheated or overworked in their weaker areas, because the many practice trials of formative assessment should have increased their skill to the best of their ability. If we don’t give students a chance to practice, then we will not have a grasp of what they can really do with the material they’ve been taught. We need to be patient with our students and give them the time they deserve and the feedback they’ve earned so they can invest themselves in their life-long learning.