Hey Mrs. Ripp, I have to stay in for recess. Oh ok, why? Because I didn't have my parents sign my math test. Oh ok...
How often do we hear statements such as these in our classrooms. Those little remarks explaining why a certain consequence was being given to a student? I used to be that teacher,the one that punished students for not handing things in, forgetting signatures, or having a rough day. I thought that was what you did as a teacher; teach responsibility. And while it is true that we should help our students grow into more responsible children, we also have to make sure that the "punishment fits the crime."
When students are asked to stay in from recess because they left something at home, it simply does not make sense. In fact, you end up with a student that not only did not get a chance to get some fresh air, but also one who has resentment for being punished for something beyond their control. We do it all the time as teachers; assign work that isn't really for the student to finish but for the parents instead, and yet the students always pays the price when the work is not done. And we justify it all the time.
So this year I told myself to stop. No more keeping students in from recess, only if they needed and wanted help with something. No more taking away privileges because of something a parent didn't do. No more enforcing inane rules that I thought I had to enforce simply because that is what I had experienced. Now I question everything I do before I subject my students to it and I am happy I do. I trust my on judgment much more now and I also feel that the students view it as a fair environment, all building into a better community.