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16 September 2015 - Who's Decision?

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1 16 September 2015 - Who's Decision? on Tue Sep 15, 2015 5:07 pm


This is Ethan. Ethan will be 13 next month, but he's rather small for his age. He's in seventh grade, at a small, rather strict, private school. On the other hand, Ethan is also extremely hyperactive, and they have good programs to help kids learn to deal with that, and to help them learn while they deal with it.

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You are Ethan's teacher. Ethan has already been tardy to your class twice. Three times in a 'six weeks' (the standard grading period) is usually dealt with by three swats of the paddle and a clean slate. Ethan isn't your best student, and he can be a challenge, but he's usually pretty fun in class and you like him.

Today, while standing in the hall, you see Ethan a couple of doors down talking to someone. It's nearly time for the bell, so you call and tell him he needs to get in class. You're pretty sure he's ignores you, but you're pretty strict about tardies, and you don't want to have to deal with him on that, so you walk over.

"Ethan, you'd best get to class before the bell rings."

"It's still passing period, and I don't have to get to class yet."

You find his tone rather offensive, and you really don't care to be told to mind your own business by a student who is your business. Before you can say anything though, the tardy bell rings, meaning Ethan is late anyway.

While the penalty for tardiness is normally swats, the penalty for minor insubordination (assuming the language isn't abusive) isn't. Normally it would be dealt with either by a writing assignment or a minor detention. However, in an instance like this, it could also be considered an aggravating circumstance to the original offense. Without calling a parent, you're limited to six swats on trousers, but you can always refer him to the principal, who has more latitude in punishment. In this case, you're also a bit aggravated with your student.

Will you handle him yourself or send him to the office? If he stays with you, what do you do?

If you were the principal, and this case was referred to you, you have the option of up to 10 swats, and you can have the student lower his trousers, to apply the paddle to his underpants. However, insubordination and backtalk are areas where you're uneasy, because it can be so hard to judge. Would you handle this yourself? If so, how? If not, and you were Ethan's father, how would you deal with the situation?

"In the end, it's just a story. But if you ask me, it's all true."

2 Re: 16 September 2015 - Who's Decision? on Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:55 pm

John Boy

I'm going to explain to Ethan that I was trying to help him not get swats for tardies, however thanks to his attitude, he can visit the principal and let him deal with it.

Principal, Four swats on underpants.

3 Re: 16 September 2015 - Who's Decision? on Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:57 pm


I'm still a pushover.

I'm going to have Ethan see me after class. I'm going to tell him I was trying to AVOID having him be late to class. His "passing period" was clearly far farther along than he thought, and now he's been tardy three times. And he knows what that means.

I'm also going to point out that I didn't much appreciate his tone. It's only because I'm an adult, without the petulance of youth, that I'm going to handle this myself. He'll have had his lecture, and he'll get his three swats, fully clothed.

If I were a petty, vindictive tyrant, I'd refer the matter to the principal. Given the rest of the scenario, it's likely that he'd have referred it to Ethan's dad, Mr. Jack, who, having to come to school and take time out of his busy schedule to handle this nonsense would be likely to deal with it VERY thoroughly.

Ethan should consider himself lucky he pulled this attitude with me. If it happens again, he won't be so lucky.

4 Re: 16 September 2015 - Who's Decision? on Tue Sep 15, 2015 7:19 pm


I agree with Afinch here, the teacher is clearly trying to look out for the kid, but Ethan simply didn't get it, so I think the the teacher needs to explain this.

Depending on Ethan's response, I would then decide whether swats are necessary. If he takes the lecture well and apologises, I don't think swats are needed.

5 Re: 16 September 2015 - Who's Decision? on Tue Sep 15, 2015 9:34 pm

David M. Katz

I agree with Kier except that I think I would only give out two. As principal I am calling his dad to come down to school.

Cleverly disguised as a responsible adult.

6 Re: 16 September 2015 - Who's Decision? on Tue Sep 15, 2015 9:55 pm


Editor Extraordinaire
As the teacher, I'll handle this myself, pretty much as Kier (AFinch) describes. I don't really see Ethan's response to me as insubordination. He didn't refuse to obey me but rather offered a rebuttal to what sounds more like a suggestion. When he's getting his swats for tardiness, however, I will rub a little salt in the wound by pointing out he rebuffed the help I was trying to give.

If I were a principal and a teacher referred this to me, I'd give the three swats for the tardies and a lecture about listening to people who are trying to help. Later, I'd have a little chat with the teacher about overreacting. Minor discipline really is best handled at the level where it occurs.


7 Re: 16 September 2015 - Who's Decision? on Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:11 am


It all comes down to how irritated I am. I want to be fair to Ethan, and so I would seriously consider referring him to the principle if my dander was up. I would talk with the principle outside of Ethan's hearing letting him know that I referred Ethan because I wasn't sure I was being fair to him. If I stayed calm, he would get three swats and a discussion about how I was trying to help him avoid this outcome.

8 Re: 16 September 2015 - Who's Decision? on Wed Sep 16, 2015 4:26 am

Pi Beta

RIP 9 Jan 47 - 17 June 17
I'm with Kier on this - delaying the decision/discussion/subsequent action with Ethan until the end of class to give him time to contemplate what might be the outcome, having just told him that he is to stay behind afterwards.

9 Re: 16 September 2015 - Who's Decision? on Wed Sep 16, 2015 2:29 pm


This was based on a real incident (thought it was with Ethan Guthrey, not one of my kids). At the time I wrote this, I didn't have all the facts. I first learned of it when David Guthrey (Ethan's dad) called me to ask if Ethan had been having any attitude problems or talking about any problems at school.

From the way this was written, you can probably guess that Ethan was sent to the principal's office.

One thing I forget to mention, which actually turns out to be pretty important, is that Ethan (and his little brother) are both very ADHD, and they moved to BCA last year because they were having so much trouble at the public schools.

Originally, I assumed Ethan's teacher, who supposedly had no real trouble with him before, sent Ethan to the office because he was just hit the wrong way by what Ethan said, or because Ethan was the final straw for that day. While I generally agree with Kat and Kier (if I was too ticked off to deal with someone when I was teaching, I generally made them wait until the end of class or even the end of the day), it seems like the teacher felt Ethan was acting abnormally, and sent him to the principal's office so Mr. P could decide if there was some root problem.

Ethan did say he didn't mean to be rude or smart, and there's some question about the exact wording of what was actually said.

After checking with David (and David checking with me), Mr. P gave Ethan what sounds like an extremely thorough lecture about the fact that passing period is not play time or visitation time, and that strolling into the room when the bell rings is not only unacceptable and irresponsible, but it's disruptive and rude to the teacher and the rest of the class.

At that point, Ethan was escorted back to class. Mr. P and his teacher took him to the supply room. Ethan apologized to his teacher, took his swats, and he went back to class.

David went a bit further than that.

One thing you should understand is that BCA Middle School has a four-minute passing period. When David and I were in middle school and high school, we had five minutes. However, the BCA Middle School Area is only about half-again the size of the English Department at the old high school, so David doesn't have much tolerance with Ethan being tardy.

David talked to Mr. P and this particular teacher after school yesterday. Ethan has one or two tardies in several of his classes (and this is only the fourth week of six, so he still has about 13 days to go, including today). David requested to be told if Ethan is late to this class again, and he told Ethan he'll be getting whipped at home if it happens. He's also requested that if he hits three tardies in one of his other classes (without a blindingly good excuse) he be sent to the office for a little 'extra attention'.

For reference - Ethan had one tardy in four classes, two tardies in another class, plus the one where he was paddled yesterday. Including home room, he only has nine classes total, which is why his dad's a bit unhappy with him.

Still, he does only have thirteen days left, including today, so it shouldn't be too impossible.

"In the end, it's just a story. But if you ask me, it's all true."

10 Re: 16 September 2015 - Who's Decision? on Wed Sep 16, 2015 6:45 pm


Yike that called living on the edge..... Hope he makes it....

Hugs kal

11 Re: 16 September 2015 - Who's Decision? on Thu Sep 17, 2015 5:17 am


kalico wrote:Yike that called living on the edge..... Hope he makes it....

Normally I'd think David was being overly strict with him, but in this case, it sounds like he's using his passing period for everything but passing. Considering the size of the Middle School section, there's very little reason to ever be late, much less as much as Ethan has been being. I think David is more trying to emphasize that Ethan needs to get and stay on program, than to really be harsh about it.

"In the end, it's just a story. But if you ask me, it's all true."

12 Re: 16 September 2015 - Who's Decision? on Thu Sep 17, 2015 1:05 pm


I don't know, I get the impression that this is making a mountain out of a grain of sand. I think the regular school penalty is more than enough, unless this is becoming a real problem. 

Really, I can't get that worked up over whether he walked in the classroom before or right after the bell. Let the regular school rules apply. In fact, I quite liked the opportunity to chat with friends for a few minutes when changing classes. Sitting there listening in silence for so many hours is boring, and this is a former straight-A student saying this. Children need some outlets.

The talking back? Well, not the best reaction. He misinterpreted the teacher's actions as nagging. Again, not such a big deal that additional punishment at home is needed. Just a talk about it.

13 Re: 16 September 2015 - Who's Decision? on Thu Sep 17, 2015 1:14 pm


I am late on this but will submit before reading the rest or the spoiler.
Iam going to deal with this. Seems to me that Ethan has earned his swats and more so I will be adding 2 swats for the aggravation and a warning that I more tardy in the period and I will be passing this to the Principals office rather than completely wiping the slate clean as normal

If were the Dad Ethan would be going over my knee for a paddling not so much for the lateness but the attitude that seems to be behind it

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