When it comes to my career as a teacher, I’ve worked something out. It’s not that I don’t care about teaching. It’s that there are a number of fundamental faults in our system that everyone seems powerless to do anything about.
There’s one flaw in particular that will take a long time to come back from, if it’s possible to come back at all. It’s the reason so many teachers are flooding out of the profession, it’s the reason I am feeling so disillusioned with a career that was supposed to sustain me for the rest of my working life.
Consequences. Or the lack thereof.
With our students, how many chances are too many? Do those chances ever run out? It seems they only run out for those students that take their choices to the very extreme – violence, aggression, severe anger issues. These kids might be the ones we hear about. Those who get suspended or expelled and are bounced from school to school wreaking havoc in every setting they are placed in. Their Individual Behaviour Plan ticking the paperwork box but not actually achieving anything in the real world.
What if those kids were given consequences well before they reached this point? What if those students (those students that all teachers know from kindergarten are going to be problematic as they progress through primary school) are faced with consequences immediately? As in, even for the smaller offences? Swearing, backchat, attitude, refusing to complete work, refusing to follow instructions, being disrespectful. What if these kids faced consequences for those actions as soon as it happens? Would it still progress further? It goes back to the age old saying – give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.