Saturday, 27 July 2013

I'm Always Serious.

When I was training one of the most useful things I ever did was have a seminar in one of my placement schools as part of professional development from the deputy head of said school. This placement was about behaviour management and it totally changed my attitude towards managing the classroom. The core point he told us was

'Try to not put students in detention.'

This, to my wide eyed and naive noggin was revolutionary. I started to try it. I started to aim not to give out detention and instead manage my classroom in a way that developed positive behaviour instead of constantly battling negative behaviour.

This deputy head did, however, recognise the need for detentions at certain times and I grew to learn that the most important thing isn't the detention itself; it is the idea of the detention and the inherent fear of it. Students should remember and fear your detentions. They should come as close to being banned by the Geneva Convention as possible and they should, inherently, be utterly pointless. If a student does not do homework they should not have to do that homework in detention because that defeats the point. They should have to do a miserable detention and then still have to hand in the homework.

In order to make your detentions more memorable for students I present an accrued list of suggestions gathered from family reminiscences, hushed staffroom whispers, student recollection, the testimony of criminals talking about their childhood and my own list of detentions I would like to give but will definitely get fired for.

1: The pointless essay.
The students are forced to write an essay on a ridiculous and absurd topic, often in a hideously short timeframe. Examples of this are primarily discussion topics such as: 'The air inside a ping-pong ball', 'Water' or 'This sheet of paper'.

2: The Pointless Task.
Students partake in something that has utterly no consequence except to annoy them. Normally this task involves a piece of paper and a pen in order to focus the pointlessness. An example is to draw a line between every line on a piece of lined paper. This particular example accentuates the failability of the pointless task. In this example the student was told that if, at any point, they crossed the printed lines with their ink line they had to start again from the beginning. Reportedly one student failed with such regularity that they started crying. Crying is a hallmark of this detention. I once heard a tale of  student made to colour in both sides of a piece of plain paper with a biro. When the biro ran out they were given a new one. After a fortnight of consecutive lunchtime detentions the child finished and the teacher picked up the page, neatly tore it into four and put it into the bin. Tears ensued.

3: The Community Service.
A real classic this one. Students are forced to improve their own personalities by removing chewing gum from tables, or clearing up, or alphabetising the exercise books for every class. There should be a special note on this one for a school that, during the early twentieth century, realised that it wanted to flatten off one of its school fields so that both cricket and rugby could be played. To do this it installed a short section of railway tracks down one side of the sloped field and placed a newly purchased railway wagon on these for the removed earth. PE lessons were then devoted entirely to the process of removing some 32,000 tonnes of earth. This process took students four years. Now THAT would be a detention.

I feel as if I've let you down; There might be a nugget of truth in this one. Also, using any of these will probably get you fired/killed/cause a student irreconcilable mental issues. You've been fairly warned.

Prof. Teacher.

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