Author Topic: s/o -- Special Snowflake collective awards or punishments  (Read 12325 times)

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HoneyBee42

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s/o -- Special Snowflake collective awards or punishments
« on: April 26, 2014, 12:11:21 PM »
I saw several posts about collective awards or punishments (a pizza party for a whole grade school class for perfect attendance, the charter school with the perfect attendance/lecture combo).

I honestly have never understood *why* this was (and still is) used in school settings.  I mean, it makes sense for a collective *group* (like band, orchestra, chorus, teams for sports) to be rewarded as a group for a job well done (daughter plays in band, they had state contest today) or penalized (middle son's baseball team has to do sprints for dropped balls when they're doing drills).  But classroom settings don't make sense to me, at all.

Maybe, too, my thoughts are influenced by my own experiences.  In junior high, we were sentenced to "silent lunch" (no talking whatsoever allowed during lunch, there was no recess), and it just went on and on so long that it was like the norm, rather than a punishment (because if someone talked during silent lunch, we'd get more days tacked on, but it would be multiple days for a single infraction, or maybe it was something like two people [i.e. both halves of the conversation] would each get a day added, so one conversation was a minimum of two days.  It was ridiculous.

In grade school, they would make an entire class stand in line during the whole of recess (also, no talking or fidgeting allowed) for the infractions of a few members of the class (like 2 or 3 out of the 30).

Those things, I suffered through, although it  caused me to have very little respect for the adults imposing the punishment--not that I was outwardly defiant, but I felt that it was extremely unfair and that there was nothing that I could do to change the situation.

Except for the time when I was in third grade.  (Recounting this story to my children now, they said "Mom, you were a renegade").  My regular third grade teacher was removed mid-year (I learned years later, as an adult, that it was due to alcoholism) and replaced with a long-term substitute.  I loathed the substitute, not only for not being my 'real teacher' (to whom I was rather attached, and the no-warning removal was as upsetting to me as if my teacher had dropped dead in the classroom) but also because of her "classroom management" techniques.

There was the lesser level, which I was able to manage on my own.  Her idea was that a bright student who finished early should be made to help the slower students.  The worst was with math, which came right before recess.  If the math work wasn't done, you had to stay in for recess.  So if you were helping another student and the other student wasn't done, you both had to stay in (which led to a lot of hissing "the answer is 56, just write it down already!" "come on, write down 56, let's get done!  I don't care if you don't understand, just write it down!")  In my defense, I was 8, and didn't really understand why what came so easily to me was hard to get for someone else.  In the end, I learned to pretend to still be working so as to avoid having to help someone who would cost me a recess (unless we were standing in line, in which case I didn't care, but still didn't resolve the issue that I couldn't really explain the math other than just 'here's the answer, write it down' which sure didn't help that other child in the long run).

The worst, though, was when she brought in the two trees with ribbons.  The project was announced that for any misbehavior (talking in class, not turning in homework, etc), a ribbon had to be removed from the tree.  When all ribbons from one tree were gone, the side of the classroom with ribbons still on their tree would get to have a pizza party, the side of the classroom with the bare tree would have to sit on the other side of the room watching the pizza party and doing math problems.  Well, as it happened, the worst behaved boy was on the side that I was on, so of course, the tree for my side of the classroom got emptied first.  Yet, during this entire project, I hadn't removed a single ribbon personally (the boy in question had personally removed about 75% of the ribbons, and there were a lot of kids who had removed one or none, personally).  Well, it was announced "tomorrow, 'team ribbon' will have their pizza party, and 'team bare tree,' you will be doing a lot of math problems."  Well, here came my one moment of standing up (the renegade comment from my kids), and I stood up and objected and said that it was not fair, that I personally had not removed a single ribbon and there was no way that I could stop [named by name 75% boy] from talking in class or make him get his homework done and turned in--furthermore, [named the name of a girl on the other team] had personally removed 20 ribbons, which was more than all of the rest of us on the team combined; therefore, this wasn't fair, and using collective punishment and rewards was unfair to those of us who had behaved and were punished as well as being unjust in that those who had misbehaved were still getting the 'good behavior' reward.  In the end, there was a pizza party for the whole class the next day, though I don't remember if 75% boy and 20-ribbon girl were allowed to participate or not.

So honestly, where did this idea come from (for classroom use)?  Is there even *one* example of a classroom use resulting in the formerly always-misbehaving child have improved behavior?

TootsNYC

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Re: s/o -- Special Snowflake collective awards or punishments
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2014, 12:35:50 PM »
The time I think a collective punishment is appropriate is when the entire class dynamic is the problem. A huge percentage of the class is rowdy in the hallways, and many of the people who are not loud are nonetheless a receptive audience.

Otherwise, I find them frustrating.

mime

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Re: s/o -- Special Snowflake collective awards or punishments
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2014, 12:47:58 PM »
That ribbon idea was just awful, and I'm impressed that you stood up for yourself and the other good kids in your half of the class-- that would be hard for a child to do!

I remember some of our grade-school classes earning points for "popcorn parties". The class earned and lost points as a whole and there were some of us who would get irritated with the few who couldn't seem to control themselves during class. Lost points would be immediate when a kid misbehaved and sometimes there was peer-pressure where the whole class would blame one or two culprits for losing our popcorn party. I suppose that may have been the goal: to get kids to follow the herd and behave, but it was rare and not especially effective.

Like you, I hated the idea. I still do. If we want kids to grow up and be accountable for their own behavior, then they should be punished and rewarded for their own behavior. I don't agree with teaching kids that they will be punished for someone else's behavior. I also don't think that they should be expected to reign in misbehaving classmates -- the teacher needs to control the class.

kherbert05

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Re: s/o -- Special Snowflake collective awards or punishments
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2014, 01:16:16 PM »
As a teacher I agree. The only time I use it is in line. We are required to turn around if a child is acting up. I pointed out that 1 kid would act up all of specials time if we were going to art or computers because he hates those classes. Principal and AP agreed that instead he would have to practice walking properly at recess and the kids get to go to specials and I get my break.


Silent lunch is usually individual at my school. If the cafeteria gets too loud we call silence and once it is silent then we say reset your voices to work station voices. They repeat workstation voices in a whisper. That is usually all it takes. We had one parent go to the principal, without taking to any 2nd grade teacher, complaining we punished the kids with silent lunch every day no matter what.


We had been having a problem with kids talking all through lunch and not eating - then getting upset when it was time to leave. So we started 5 min of silence at the end of lunch. Since then the kids have been finishing their lunches on time and the transition back to the classroom is smoother and the kids are calmer.


The principal was irritated with the parent, because he was complaining before his child didn't have time to finish his lunch. The parent thought we should just wait till everyone was finished before leaving the cafeteria. We have 2 hours to get 540 students fed in a cafeteria/school built for about 400 students. So that wasn't an option.
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bloo

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Re: s/o -- Special Snowflake collective awards or punishments
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2014, 02:21:01 PM »
It contributed - in a small way - to why I opted to homeschool my kids.

My DS and DD were in 4th and 3rd grade, respectively, in their last year of Bricks-n-mortar school. The schedule they had was pretty frustrating for all of us. At school by 8am, home by 2:30 (I picked them up by car or we biked home together) and immediately they had to start on their homework. I had a snack and they had to sit at the table til homework was done. They needed more help than I would have thought necessary, even with my son being in Special Ed with an IEP due to his dyslexia. They were pretty much hopping in their seats, so occasionally I'd have them run around outside for a few minutes before doing homework.

Sometimes it would take them a couple of hours to get homework done (in elementary school? I really don't remember that for myself) and then it was time for dinner, clean up, chores and bath for next day. Three days a week we had to study for each of our religious meetings. So on Tuesday and Thursday evenings it was non-stop for our kids. Forget extra curricular activities like a sport or a musical instrument!  So I was pretty frustrated when I saw how they handled the misbehavior of a few during class was to withhold recess. My kids, and I think they're not unusual, greatly benefited from expending themselves physically so they could concentrate on schoolwork. 

As an aside, I was also equally annoyed when, on gorgeous days, my kids would come home and tell me that they stayed in to watch a movie because the teachers wouldn't take them outside. That happened way too often - for my tastes anyway.

pearls n purls

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Re: s/o -- Special Snowflake collective awards or punishments
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2014, 04:09:58 PM »
I remember classrooms could win popcorn parties for bringing in the most money for fundraisers.  I have no problem with that, but I do not like collective punishments.

I remember teachers making the whole class put their heads down on the desks for punishment if a few kids were misbehaving.  It didn't bother me too much in elementary school, but I felt it humiliating in high school.

While not quite the same thing, we had some group projects and grades.  I had the highest in the class, so I was put with the two kids with the lowest grades.  I tried to encourage the boys to help, but I wound up doing almost all of the work.  I wrote out their parts for the presentation, but when I presented my piece, they were talking and goofing off behind me.  We were docked an entire grade for their misbehavior.

The example that bothered me the most was when about 1/3 of the class were talking during the beginning of a PE class.  The teacher made us do drills that we weren't use to doing and at a much higher intensity that what we were used to.  About halfway through the class, most of us were groaning in pain and the teacher was grinning from ear to ear.  Yes, it was a sizable group of kids misbehaving, but it was the popular clique and I don't think anyone else felt comfortable shushing them when they were talking.


SCAJAfamily

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Re: s/o -- Special Snowflake collective awards or punishments
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2014, 06:16:26 PM »
I hate collective punishments as well.  When A was in 3rd grade the teacher did this for recesses.  If there was too much talking, everyone stayed in for 50% or all of recess.  According to A, this happened over half the time, which I doubted.  Other parents agreed it happened "a lot". 

I never did say anything because it has to be really bad for me to question a teacher.  A did say it got better later in the year, so either the students shut up or the teacher wanted her recess break back.
SCAJAfamily = dd S 22, ds C 15, ds A 12, dh J and myself dw A

Asharah

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Re: s/o -- Special Snowflake collective awards or punishments
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2014, 07:27:29 PM »
I hate collective punishments as well.  When A was in 3rd grade the teacher did this for recesses.  If there was too much talking, everyone stayed in for 50% or all of recess.  According to A, this happened over half the time, which I doubted.  Other parents agreed it happened "a lot". 

I never did say anything because it has to be really bad for me to question a teacher.  A did say it got better later in the year, so either the students shut up or the teacher wanted her recess break back.
Or she learned the natural consequences of not letting the kids out to run off some of that over-abundant energy.  ;D
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Mikayla

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Re: s/o -- Special Snowflake collective awards or punishments
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2014, 07:43:12 PM »
I encountered this only once in my life and I'm still not sure what I think.   It was a variation on the "honor code" used in military academies, where if you stand by knowing wrong was done, you're equally guilty.

In 8th grade, I was in an accelerated courseload, and we went through some additional testing to determine our placements in high school.  The teacher discovered somehow that a copy of part of the test had been removed from her desk and then returned.  This may even have been a trap she set.

She told us that we were to get together as a group, figure out who had taken it, and report that person to her.  Otherwise, all of us would get incompletes on that portion of the test.  (I doubt she would have followed through on this, but we didn't know that). 

Ultimately, we did get it figured out after several hours.  When I told my parents, my dad thought it was brilliant teaching; my mom called the superintendent of schools the next morning.  I tend to agree with my dad.  I learned a lot that day and remember a lot of it very clearly!

HGolightly

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Re: s/o -- Special Snowflake collective awards or punishments
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2014, 08:01:32 PM »
My eighth grade teacher was like this as well as my fourth grade math teacher.  One such punishment day, my 8th grade teacher kept us all in from a track and field day as punishment for the behaviour of "the usual suspects". I told him it was unfair so he offered me the reward of doing marking for him....gee....thanks. I told him no thank you, I would rather earn the punishment and called him a petty tyrant.

I was part of a gifted and enrichment class that met once a cycle for the entire afternoon. We were pulled from our regular classes for this and it was wonderful.  Our math teacher gave us double the math work to make up for the next day because we could figure it out if we were soooo special.  He usually introduced new math concepts on those days. Eventually the parents found out and objected to this.

whiterose

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Re: s/o -- Special Snowflake collective awards or punishments
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2014, 08:08:20 PM »
In my 4th grade religion class, a priest came to speak to the class one day.

Teacher decided we had misbehaved. She left us without recess AND without eating lunch.

Yes, the entire class.

Needless to say, I was crying my eyes out. Kids who bought lunch at the cafeteria were not allowed to go there either. We had to stay in the classroom sitting quietly.

When regular teacher returned to the classroom after recess, she allowed us to eat- and the kids who had brought lunch from home had to share with the kids who did not bring anything and would have bought lunch at the cafeteria.

As far as I know, nothing happened to the teacher. We still had her the next year.

Eventually, I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia- no wonder I was so upset. That, and I had behaved perfectly well and certainly did not deserve to be deprived of both recess AND lunch due to other classmates misbehaving.
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kherbert05

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Re: s/o -- Special Snowflake collective awards or punishments
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2014, 09:05:36 PM »

About recess. We are not allowed to take away recess for a whole group. In part because Texas requires 135 min of physical activity a week at the elementary level. We have PE 1 (45 min) or 2 (90 min) times a week depending if you have 4 or 5 classes in your grade level. The rest of the time is made up by recess 30 min each day. I have a student that will have to stay by the teacher on recess duty, because of a pattern of bullying.
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Jocelyn

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Re: s/o -- Special Snowflake collective awards or punishments
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2014, 09:18:13 PM »
Group punishments are used because they're easier than thinking. The teacher is angry with the class, and doesn't care whether she's punishing innocent people, so long as she's punishing the guilty. Actually, she's probably just as angry at the innocent, holding them accountable for maintaining the classroom discipline that she isn't able to maintain.
Assigning good students to help bad students is done because the teacher does not want to deal with her own feelings of failure at being incapable of motivating the bad students to learn. By placing the responsibility on the good student- such as assigning them to work together for a group grade- she ensures that SHE is not the failure, because the good student will be forced to protect their own grade by doing the work of the poor student as well as their own. Thus, the poor student gets an undeserved, but passing grade, and the teacher doesn't have to deal with the consequences of failing said student.
It's been 40 years, and I still get angry at those teachers.

AmethystAnne

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Re: s/o -- Special Snowflake collective awards or punishments
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2014, 09:20:37 PM »
I was a quiet kid blessed with being blessed(?) with forever being in the same class with the 5 or 6 smart aleck loud kids.

The group punishments for the class being loud started in 2nd grade, and continued until 9th grade. For the regular classroom, I got used to it, didn't like it, but got used to it.  ::)

I always enjoyed Music Class, and liked the teacher. She had always called out those who had been loud, and that was a good way of handling it, as far as I was concerned.

 I guess she got tired of calling out individuals, and then said "if you kids don't be quiet everyone will have to write sentences." I made sure I only opened my mouth to sing. Then there was loudness again, and she said "that's it! This whole class has been noisy, so everyone has to write a 100 words about 'why I should be quiet in class' ."

Oh yeah, I wrote 100 words....but my theme was "I don't know why I should write this because I only opened my mouth to sing, not to talk, etc.

I kind of gave up on expecting justice.


LifeOnPluto

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Re: s/o -- Special Snowflake collective awards or punishments
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2014, 12:55:09 AM »
I think the point of group punishments is so that the well-behaved kids will be encouraged to reign in the naughty kids. But that line of thinking completely ignores the social dynamics of school.

Often, the naughty kid might be Mr / Miss Popular who'll simply ignore the less popular kid. Or they might be the Smart Aleck who'll make the quiet kid's life hell if they dare speak up and correct them. It's a really unfair burden, to expect other kids to reign in the naughty kids.