I found out I’m teaching freshmen this year and have been busy fine-tuning and perfecting my syllabus, classroom, grading policy, etc. ever since. I was then reading The Growth Mindset Coach and Lost at School and realized that I’m losing an opportunity to help students. My normal detentions are basically a retention of the students for a time in my classroom. We may talk a bit, we may discuss why they have detention, but more often than not, we don’t talk much and then they leave.
Instead, I’ve decided to re-brand my detentions as student check-in conferences. These conferences will now be requests for students to come see me before/after school or during lunch to discuss whatever it was that caused the detention. It’s a way for me and the student to check-in based on a documented behavior. Often, these include disrespectful behavior, multiple or excessive tardies, refusal to do work, disruption of other students’ learning, etc. These behaviors are often able to be corrected through re-direction, modeling, and discussion rather than simply punishment.
Students can “choose” not to come in for the conference, but that choice will result in an administrative referral (an administrative “check-in conference” and a parent-teacher conference).
I’ve adjusted my Google Forms based Detention Log and made it my new SCIC Form.
The form is set up to gather basic student information. Then I add information as to why we’re holding a conference.
The “from” and “to” dates are important because student transportation and extracurricular commitments are varied. If I set a specific date and time, it’s likely that student can’t come, but if they choose, they are much more likely to attend.
I wanted to use Google Forms because I use AutoCrat to make paper versions of this data. It also serves as an easy way to create student notices like the one I made for the SCIC Form here.
Students get to provide three preferred dates/times for our conference. I let them know within 24 hours which date works. It’s better to have the conference earlier rather than later, so no more than a week should go by before talking with the student.
During the conference, I intend to focus on what the student has difficulty doing, the trigger for the behavior (thanks to Lost at School). If a student has a second tardy, then the tardy is the symptom of whatever behavior causes it. The intention is to prevent the behavior in order to prevent the outcome. If a student is late to class because he stopped at the snack machine and the line was long, then I want to talk to the student about what he/she can do in the future. For instance, the student can come to me first and then ask for permission to go or he/she can make sure they go to a snack machine closer to my classroom and keep track of how much time they have between classes. OR they can choose to go to the snack machine after my class or in the morning.
I think what’s important is that the student sees that you’re working WITH them to guide their thinking, their future behavior, and genuinely want them to be in class, be on time, and avoid certain outcomes. If they see that you’re not relishing in giving them detentions and referrals, if they see you’re talking with them rather than TO them, then I think students will be much more receptive to changing their behavior. It may not work immediately. That student may be late again and again and again, but holding these conferences and sticking to the consequences laid out in the beginning of the year shows them you’re consistent and you understand that learning is done through growth and making mistakes– they won’t get it right every time.
Trying it out in your classroom? Let me know about your experiences!