[student] Crime and [teacher] Punishment

Who really gets punished?

I figured out on Friday afternoon that one of my students attempted to cheat on his vocabulary quiz. It’s a complicated thing, but I showed what he did to another teacher, the assistant head of academics and they agreed that he cheated. I emailed the parent, the head of school and his advisor that I needed to meet to go over this incident. We held a meeting Monday morning, parent agreed. But first, I had to apologize for writing to him on a Friday afternoon and letting that hang over his head all weekend. Just so you know, I have also had to apologize to this parent for not letting him know that his kid got in trouble on a Friday until the following Monday. (I get a twenty minute break on Fridays, but that’s a whole other blog post…)

Yesterday afternoon I sat down with this student and his advisor and he lied his ass off about not cheating. He is obviously caught in a lie but will not rescind his story. So now I am in an email chain with four different people to schedule a time to meet again to prep for the next meeting with him. Thirteen emails in this thread, and counting. How many meetings does it take to punish a kid at a private school? He cheated. He is lying. He deserves to face consequences. But like so many other times I have caught a student in the wrong, I feel like the one who is punished, and the students don’t have to face consequences. I’m giving up planning time to meet with everyone and their mom about this one incident. This time, amazingly, I was not asked how this is my fault, but I have been asked that by parents before. When a student makes a mistake, they must own up to it. Their parents must acknowledge that they messed up and not create excuse after excuse or shift the blame. All we are doing is teaching these kids to shift the blame when they fuck up. In real life, we fuck up, we face consequences. You drive too fast? Here’s a speeding ticket. You do something dishonest at work? You get fired.

Last year students smoked pot in my classroom during transition time when I was in the bathroom. I was livid. I smelled it, a student verified who did what. I texted my AP for back up and no one came. I was really upset because I don’t ask for back up, ever. I went to my principal and he yelled at me. He yelled at me because I am “not a drug expert,” and I shouldn’t “go around my assistant principal’s back.” I asked him how I was supposed to be rated on my classroom management when they didn’t support me during a time when students were breaking laws in my classroom. He said I had no evidence and this was not my job. Well, shit. Ok. I knew at that moment I wasn’t going to teach there again. Those students? They never faced any consequences.

Why are so many teachers not busting kids these days? Students are slacking off, their behavior is worse and worse. In my opinion it is because the teacher ultimately is the one who either feels punished, or actually gets punished. Kids acting up in your class? What are you doing wrong? A student is disengaged? Why are you not teaching to their specific learning style, at their specific level while incorporating the things that they like into instruction to make sure you reach them?

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