Thursday, October 30, 2008

This face is not smiling

Earlier this week, TB came home from school and started telling me about the "smiley face" chart his teacher is using at school. The basic concept is that you start the day with 3 faces, for each time you break a rule, you lose a face. For each face you lose, the punishment becomes more severe. It starts with a warning, then lost recess, then a trip to the principal. This is the first I heard of it, no indication from the teacher of exactly how the system worked or anything. When I grilled TB about the details, I was told that there are no warnings, just "stop talking, take down your face" and that they lose faces for breaking different rules throughout the day. So they could lose a face for talking and another for not lining up at recess and a third for running in the halls.

I emailed asking the principal (I didn't have the teacher's address) about the system and he sent the email to the teacher and advised me to discuss it with her. We had conferences tonight so I talked to her about it. She explained that the kids do get warnings, in fact several. TB's day goes much like this:

TB sit down
TB stop talking and do your work
TB get off of Girl Next Door's desk and do your work
TB you need to be quite and pay attention to your work
TB get off of GND's desk and do your work. You need to take down a smiley face.

My other issue was that part of the reason that he is unable to sit down and pay attention is that he is crazy active and doesn't get enough recess time (through various reasons that aren't totally in the schools control) so their solution to his inability to sit still is to make him sit still longer. Hmm, doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I talked to her about it and explained my reasons for feeling the way I do. I also told her that I didn't have any solutions for her and I know that sucks to bring a problem and not have anything to offer to solve it. She told me that what she has done in the past is to have kids who are breaking the rules do something physical during their punishment time. She will have them walk laps or do jumping jacks or something that keeps them moving. Although using activity as a punishment brings up a whole 'nother set of issues, I'm much more concerned with taking away any kind of activity because he can't sit still.

Overall, the conference was good. TB can't read, he can't write, he enjoys math, he doesn't have much self-control, he prefers to talk to express his ideas, etc. All stuff I've seen at home. All stuff I've been told at every meeting last year. All stuff I already know. So at least there were no surprises. This is the most I've talked to her all year. She seems sort of opposed to chatting in the morning when I'm in there and I'm being a big slacker about volunteering this year so we haven't had any conversations. I did ask her to email me when he loses the smiley faces so I know when it is happening, why it is happening and I can talk to him about it, at the time that it is happening. It doesn't do me a lot of good to tell him, 2 or 3 weeks later when he gets around to telling me, that he needs to pay attention in class.

I also got a bunch of his writing samples. I need to talk to him about them because I can't read most of what he wrote. At least this year, he is including pictures so I have half a chance of figuring them out based on that. The ones I could figure out were super funny. Like the one that said "we went to the library and my mom's car got hit" and the picture is of a person standing by a car holding a card in his hand. We are betting, since they are by the car, that it is the insurance card that was exchanged LOL


Harley Quinn said...

Isn't it funny what kids remember and think is important? It's amazing once they start drawing and writing to find out what is going on in their minds.

I'm already nervous about JB starting school. He is a born dilly-dally-er. He only wants to focus on things he's interested in. I have a feeling there will be "issues".

Looseyfur said...

In 4th grade we had the sticker deal for the whole grade, so any teacher could take them away. Then little stress-aholic teacher's pets (like, um, me) lost a sticker (we were in charge of them) because I chose to put them on my shirt rather than somewhere safe one day... and I cried and cried. This happened a few more times to other kids, and then the science teacher made blocks with our names on them out of wood... Much easier to look after than stickers.

They used the stickers then for a reward chart. So if you kept all three blocks that WEEK, you got a sticker on the chart. Those top 5 kids in each class with the most stickers got a free ice cream cone.

Those who lost one block in a week -- nothing happened. Two blocks -- nothing happened. Three blocks -- detention, either academic (homework time/study hall during lunch/recess) or behavioral, depending on the situation.

Behavioral detention was kids sitting on the floor of the gym 5 feet away from other kids -- sitting still for 40 minutes. And I had the same thought about it as Freak -- if they can't sit still, it would be better to have them be active... Let them run it out... and rather than it be a punishment -- provide an outlet.