Monday, May 10, 2010

Indulging the Madness

So, with one month left, my students have managed to annoy people who don't even have a lot of direct contact with them during the regular school day. The social worker came to me last Friday and told me that she was tired of all of the "he-said she-she said blame game" that my kids seem to enjoy playing off each other. Basically, my children have a huge issue taking personal responsibility for any wrong doing and it has been a huge focus of our C.A.R.E. meetings this ENTIRE year.

Unfortunately (and this is a big UNFORTUNATELY) I would say that the C.A.R.E. program is responsible for breeding that kind of behavior. Students are required based on Rule #2 to tell an adult at home and/or an adult in school when they feel that they are being bullied. My students decided to take this rule a little liberally, coming to me every day after recess to ensure that they have told an adult about any minor qualm that they could think about. It got to a point where they were basically pushing and shoving trying to get to me first in order to head off what the other would tell me about the negative things are being done to them (without owning up to any part of the process). Basically, it has taught them to be poor innocent little victims.

In 5th grade, nothing makes me more disgusted than tattle tales. We created a room full of them and then the social worker came in and yelled at them for not dealing with their issues themselves. Well friends, I'm going to own up to my responsibility in this mess right now. I have had bad experience with NOT listening to a student who needed to come to me with a serious issue. Ever since then, I have always heard my students out before judging how to handle a situation. This does, however, take an extremely large amount of instructional time when you have a group of students who take advantage of your sympathetic ear.

So, I agree that something needed to be done. And it still makes me intensely uncomfortable to tell students that they simply must deal with things on their own, especially when they feel safe confiding in me. I feel that our social worker came up with a fairly good solution. Tomorrow we are implementing a checklist. Students must complete every step (things like talking to the other person first, giving it a day, writing about it instead of complaining verbally, etc.) before actually bringing their issue to me. I feel like the writing alone will deter some of the lamer complaints from distracting from class time.

If anyone has the same issue and could use the checklist as a jumping off point, just comment and I'll type it up when I'm at school and have it accessible.


  1. Ooh, I'd love to see the checklist! That sounds like a great idea to cut some of the frivolous tattling that can sometimes occur....

  2. How hard is it to teach children to see the difference between minor slights and serious problems when at that age everything seems so dramatic? I would like to see that check list too. I think I'm going to implement the "in writing" policy between my two kids;-)

  3. Love the checklist idea! I've also heard of teachers having a shoebox by their desk with a slot at the top: when a student needs to tattle about something, they can write it down and put it in the box. Then the teacher has the choice to review the contents privately or during a class meeting or something.
    I'm interested to hear how the checklist pans out for you!

  4. Thanks all! I just posted the checklist. It would need to be modified based on grade level, and it definitely took a whole class meeting to explain.

    And Elissa: I totally what you mean about the drama. Even I look back to things that used to seem life or death and only WISH that those were my problems nowadays. ;)