I get it. There are times when we need to press the reset button and acknowledge that a particular lesson has gone pear-shaped and just isn’t working for a particular student.
There are times when we just can’t go on. And I trust teachers to be able to tell when it’s just not gonna happen today.
When that judgement is made, as a last resort, we might send a student to another place to calm down; to press that reset button.
But know this – the most important few words in the previous sentence are “as a last resort”. Separating a student from her/his tribe, as a regular strategy, is not the path to a better tomorrow. It’s only a reset button after all.
The research on the human response to the shame induced by exclusion is clear. Most students demonise the classroom teacher, the school leaders and their peers while sitting in corridors, detention rooms and Principal’s offices.
In those moments, productive thought rarely happens, despite our insistence that they “have a good, long think about their behaviour”. The truth is that, if they’re thinking at all, it’s probably about how to exact revenge.
And why the hell would somebody cast out from the group want to suddenly behave like the group anyway? They’re the very people who rejected them after all. They’re the enemy now.
It’s now well-documented that this specific psychology has been exploited by groups like Al-Qaeda, who deliberately target inmates in western jails as their next recruits. It isn’t difficult, you see, to convince somebody rejected by society that society is their enemy.
Your students who most routinely threaten your connection with them are the ones who need you to fight hardest to protect it. And you need them on your side, not in opposition to you.
Every time you send a student from your room, you place that connection in peril.
As a last resort … and only to be supported to reset. Not to “do time”.
Keep fighting that good fight,
PS. Things are pretty tough for a lot of schools right now. I’m running some FREE webinars that I hope will help. You can come to all, or just the ones you fancy – webinar descriptions are in the registration links established for you. Hope to see you there:
- Leading Through Uncertain Times – Thursday 14th October 2pm AEDT (for Principals and other School Leaders)
- The Comeback Kid – Thursday 21st October 2pm AEDT (for all Educators, including Teachers & School Leaders)
- How to Implement Restorative Practices: Why The Real Schools Approach Works – Thursday 28th October 2pm AEDT (For Principals, Assistant Principals and Wellbeing Leaders)
- The Heroic Principal – Thursday 4th November (For Principals leading communities affected by Covid Lockdowns)
- Individual Behaviour Plans … That Work – Wednesday 17th November 2pm AEDT (for all Educators with challenging students)
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