Evaluating admin not disciplining a student I wrote up, then dings me on my observation about phones

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by bbelton60, Jan 17, 2019.

  1. bbelton60

    bbelton60 Rookie

    Feb 10, 2014
    Likes Received:

    Jan 17, 2019

    Long story short....

    Over a month ago I was forced to write up a student who went behind my desk and stole several bags of chips. I hate writing referrals. I always counsel, contact parents and go through every possible step before I get admin involved. I pretty much had no choice. Just finally the admin in charge of discipline got my referral and gave the kid “a verbal warning” about why it’s wrong to steal from the teacher...

    The same admin is also my evaluator. She’s observed me twice this school year and she gave me bad reviews because there were kids playing on their phones during the observation.

    So yea. Not sure what to make of this. What do you guys think?
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2019
  3. JimG

    JimG Comrade

    Jul 27, 2017
    Likes Received:

    Jan 18, 2019

    Respectfully, the incidents are unrelated. It is like a spouse bringing up an old spat to deflect attention from whatever issue is currently at hand.

    Edit: Regarding the theft, your handbook likely has a range of consequences outlined for such behavior; it might say “conference to 3 days OSS,” for example. If the minimum consequence is more severe than a conference, then you may have a legit grievance. In that case, if you had brought it up in due time, you and your admin could have resolved it then. If you bring it up now, it may come off as petty retaliation for a bad eval.

    Regarding the students on their phones (I could stand to be more strict and aware of this myself), what management strategies have you used?
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2019
    a2z likes this.
  4. vickilyn

    vickilyn Guru

    Jul 19, 2014
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    Jan 18, 2019

    As someone who writes referrals routinely, both positive and negative, I have come to realize that some of what is written may or may not be actionable on any given day based on what else may be on the table for consideration and action. My admin aren't inconsistent, they are simply tasked with dealing with days that are overwhelming. I have had students steal food, and the consequences were virtually nonexistent, while other times the consequences were much different and probably more significant to the student. There isn't any absolute action/consequence written until you get to student inflicted violence, because there are shades of gray that are unique to each incident.

    In your write up of one student stealing food, it was a one to one action, and probably not something that you could have controlled. The incident with the cell phones, however, shows that either the students lack enough understanding and direction to keep them working through the entire period, so that those who work faster still have goals that could be met by continued working on the assignment instead of playing on the phones. If they did have more work that could have/should have been done, and they stopped working, possibly because they didn't understand directions, they "showed" you that the minute they stopped working and started playing. That was your cue to redirect, get in proximity of the offenders, have working students help playing students, etc. It is a classroom management issue. Ten to one says that the minute the phones ceased to be tools and turned into toys, had you stopped everyone and redirected with an admonition that the next instance of using the phones inappropriately would be a zero for the day, you could have gotten your class back. You may have had to have a student or two turn off their phones and work on something where they didn't need internet access, but that should be an everyday occurrence in your class. Students who are struggling with parts of the lesson may not actually know how to move forward on their own. Before phones in the classroom, these were the students who doodled or the ones who constantly had their hand up. All of these things meant, and still do mean, that this student needs help that hasn't been given.

    I suspect that you had a killer lesson while being observed, but it exceeded the grasp of some student in the classroom. Consider the playing on the phones as your cue to be more aware of interest levels and competence. You need to have something planned for those students who will need more help. You also need to have a plan to utilize a student who flies through the lesson because they totally understand the work. You may be able to get high-flyer to student assist the struggling student, under your watchful eyes. It could be a win/win. FWIW, I have mixed emotions about using cell phones as the internet source in a classroom simply because it is too easy for them to slip into play versus staying on task. If they are being used for the calculator function, I would find a way to get them on real calculators - they don't play games.

    The games are a symptom of something that you are wanting to change. Figure that out, make changes, and be alert to students who consistently fall back into old habits. Those students may need more of your close and personal attention, and you may discover that you need to spell out directions better to keep all students on task and working as planned. I don't think, however, that you can equate the chip incident (a single student, one act) as the same as phone play, which was multiple students who were not corrected during the course of instruction. They are two very different sets of actions. Sorry . . .
    a2z likes this.

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