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Best Punishment Usually Fits the Crime
There are many ways to handle discipline problems. In the good old days when I was a girl and even when I was a young teacher, they sometimes applied "The Board of Education" to the "Seat of Learning."
Al Brown, a well-liked Knightstown coach and teacher, paddled a boy in front of a math class that I was in. Two friends burst into giggles when Claude Sipes, one of the best teachers I ever had, broke his paddle the third time he whacked a boy. Vicki's second-grade teacher-a beginner-announced that she'd paddle the next child who talked. Guess who! We were not pleased!
The best punishment is one that fits the crime. Here's my personal favorite: Mark had flunked French twice and was going down for the third time. He hated French, but needed it for college. Come to think of it, he wasn't all that fond of me either! He was uncooperative and surly until he began to get the message that he'd never escape from me until he got with the program.
One day I was at the console in the language lab where the students sat in individual, walled booths so that I couldn't see all of them. Mark sat in the first row of booths, which lined up with the door. I didn't hear his voice when I listened in with my headset. Uh-oh! That special sense that teachers develop told me that he was trying to sneak out the open door.
I ran around to the booths. Eek! No Mark. How was I ever going to explain this one to the Principal? Then I saw a chair wiggle. Aha! Hearing my footsteps Mark had crawled under a booth and pulled the chair in after him. When I pulled it out he looked up at me and said, "Electrician, Madam, just checking the wiring!" Humor always did ring my chimes so I didn't send him to the office-but I always made sure that the door was closed after that!
One day his best buddy and he arrived ten minutes late to class. Mark was bent over crutches that were about a foot-and-a-half too short, and his pal was carrying his books. "Qu'est-ce qui vous est arrivé?" (What happened to you?) "Hurt m'leg in gym."
Near the end of the hour, he asked, "Can I leave five minutes early to beat the crowd?" This was standard procedure when a student couldn't walk well. "Mais oui." I responded pleasantly. The other students hunkered down behind their books, snickering. I ran to the door in time to see him throw the crutches over his shoulder and skip merrily down the hall.
The nurse rushed in right after class. "That Mark H -- ran in my office and took off with some crutches. He isn't hurt." "I know," I said. "Let's fix him." The next day I said, to the hilarity of the class, "Mark, the nurse and I are worried about your leg. She wants to see you in her office." The very soul of cooperation, he grinned and started to gather up his books. "No, no! Not now. She wants to see you after school!"
Oh how Marge and I savored this because Mark was a boy who didn't want to be at school a minute longer than necessary.
First she made him cool his heels for half an hour and then fill out a long questionnaire that she'd concocted. We milked this for weeks. "Time for your weekly check-up," I'd say sweetly. Then the Dean of Boys came to see me. "I've got several grudges against Mark, and I want a piece of the action. Send him to me."
"Mark, the Dean of Boys wants to see you." While the class guffawed, Mark laid his head on his desk, figuring that now he was in big-time trouble. Instead, the Dean said, "Your injury has come to my attention. We take the welfare of our students very seriously here at Howe; and we Administrators are extremely concerned about you. Pull up your pants so I can examine your leg. Tch! Tch! Tch! This looks really bad, but I think can cure you so that you'll have no more problems of this type in the future." He took wide, sticky adhesive tape and wrapped it loosely around the boy's very hairy leg from ankle to knee. "Do not remove this tape for one week after which time I personally shall remove it."
A few weeks later I asked Mark, "How's your leg? Do you think you need a checkup?" His buddy spoke up, "Naw-He went to Lourdes and got a miracle, Madame!” I also passed him in French - another miracle.
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