The Modern Predator

Dracula’s seduction of young women for their blood may seem unrelated to students, but predators exist in our modern society. They just come in different forms.

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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!