In the Offset Hallways

 

Offset hallways are often located near the nurse’s office. They may hold social workers, speech therapists, counselors, paraprofessionals and other support staff.  Special little rooms with calming hammocks, trampolines and stress toys are sometimes sandwiched between classrooms. These hallways may be in the middle of a school, but are more often set off to a side, out of the busiest hallway flow. These are hallways where America’s most challenged children may spend part or even most of their days.

 

In the offset hallways, children who cannot speak press buttons on assistive devices. More often, aides push buttons for them or guide their hands to buttons that answer questions.  

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In the offset hallways, children with few or no words squirm through devices designed to put pressure on them from above and below. Squeezing comforts and calms them.  

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Children may sit in their own teacher-designed cubicles. These children work best alone. Perhaps other children disturb them or even make them wordlessly angry. Perhaps they are known to be runners, ready to escape even if they don’t know where they are going or why.

 

Some children practice adding the number “one” to another number, over and over and over. Mostly they get it right and eventually they will be able to add ‘one” to another number automatically.  They will know that

1 + 13 = 14.

The severely autistic may squirm on the ground, licking the floor, while someone tries to figure out how to get them off that floor without provoking a dangerous tantrum. When a middle-school or high-school boy the size of a football player decides not to cooperate with his special education program, all sorts of strategies may be tried, but in the end, it can be impossible to get that boy off the floor, at least in the short-term. Verbal persuasion only works when a student can understand the words being spoken, and safety comes first. The safest move may be to leave “Jay” on the floor until he decides to get up to take the coloring book or fidget toy being held out to him.

The verbal have learned various coping strategies and kids say to me throughout the day, “I am taking deep breaths.” I smile and say, “I take deep breaths myself.” They smile. They shake a little less.

I know this is not a safe space. The odds of being hurt on any given day are very low, but the social norms that prevent kids from erupting in rage or disappointment also don’t work well here. A scream sometimes cuts through lessons in these offset rooms. Screams come with the territory, especially when a child is frustrated or in pain. When a student has few or no words, that scream may be the best and most effective communication possible. Slaps, punches and bites are possible too.

“She’s a biter,” I was recently warned when I subbed in one of these hallways.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I am small, and probably about as scary as the Easter bunny. In the offset rooms, mostly my size and smile serve me well. I don’t kick off defensive or frightened reactions in many kids, no matter how confusing the world may seem to them. I look safe.

I enjoyed my last day subbing in one of these hallways. My favorite part was art class with a boy with Down Syndrome.  We colored a top-notch frog and created an abstract of randomly traced stencil animals, one on top of the other with various pieces missing. We laughed a lot and we played dueling pencils a little. The boy did not seem able to talk much, but he was an expert snorter. He pointed at pretty parts of the school as we walked to and from class. At one point he did a secret handshake with me. Someone somewhere had taught him a complicated series of moves. When I left to go help the next kid listed on my schedule, he gave me a big smile and did say bye, maybe the third or fourth word of the last hour.

I liked music class too. I can sing “Are you sleeping, Brother John?” and “Row, row, row your boat” with the best of them. I talked for a while with a nice kid whose vocabulary mostly seem to consistently of the words free time and Kanye. He loved music. He made his own when none could be heard around him.

At one point, I talked with an aide about a girl in the class. She cautioned me to be careful about bonding too quickly with the girl. Teachers were working  to help her learn about safe adults. I understood immediately. She’s a pretty girl, and she speaks well enough to hold a conversation. In a way, there’s not much scarier than a very slow, pretty girl who is nice to absolutely everybody. The world’s filled with treacherous twists and turns, including the tiny percentage of crazies who might take advantage of this girl.

Eduhonesty: I am impressed with the offset hallways, their teachers and aides. We try to mainstream students as often as we can, but we still need “life skills” classes. We still need to teach some middle school children to brush their teeth and put on deodorant. We still need to teach them how to make a sandwich and how to clean up when the juice spills.

I think of ESSA with its requirement that all children be prepared for post-secondary education. Is that the best use of our time? For all children? That wordless boy squirming and licking the floor? He’s not going to college. That wordless middle-school girl who moans and bites? She is not going to college either. But if she can be taught enough life skills, she may be able to live independently in a group home someday. At the very least, her aging parents will have an easier time caring for her.

These people writing multi-hundred page laws need to come out of their richly-decorated offices and spend a few days in school hallways — all the school hallways.

In a Time of Fish in Trees

On vacation out here, but I thought I’d offer a quick post for today. The pin on the bottom says, “Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.”GARDEN ETCI am grateful to my readers, the kids I met this year, and all the people who keep struggling to get education right. I am so glad for all of you, for the people who know that fish don’t belong in trees, and who are trying to make school work for our many kids, all our kids with their different talents, interests and inclinations.

THANK YOU.

Managing the Fall-out

IMG_4631Why does he get to play with the fidget spinner?  Why does Tommy get extra time to finish his test? Why can Marigold listen to music? Why can Johnny walk around whenever he wants to and I can’t?

I have put out enough of these IEP-related fires to wonder why educational administrators so seldom address the ancillary challenges posed by liberal provisions within IEP’s.  When we allow certain students toys and behavioral freedoms on-demand,  we automatically create a climate where other students demand their fair share of the fun. IEPs create special problems for classrooms and classroom management, and we should approach these problems with professional developments and training. New teachers especially may need guidance to help them teach the idea that fair is not necessarily equal.

Eduhonesty: Fair is not equal can be a tough sell. Kids believe in fairness and will demand it at an early age. Schools teach fairness. As Junko plays with her glue dots, other students want their own dots. The teacher can’t say, “Well, Junko is special.” Aside from vital privacy questions, she might as well paint a social target on the poor girl’s forehead. (Incidentally, those IEPs are supposed to be private, but free use of fidget toys like glue dots will out our Junkos without a single word said.)

As fidget toys and special behavioral allowances expand their daily use through IEP provisions, new teachers should be given help managing problems created by those provisions. Johnny’s special permission to walk around the classroom, Junko’s anxiety dots, and Marigolds headphones create jealousy. We need to acknowledge this fact and provide training to teachers flummoxed by the growing influx of individual freedoms within the classroom.

The Distinctive Sound of Velcro

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A follow-up to the fidget spinner post:

I happen to be a fan of music while working. Being ADHD myself, I have always worked to background noise. I do much better with the clattering of dishes falling to the floor behind me than I do in a quiet library. That’s me, and I am not alone. I used to do needlepoint during college lectures. I naturally feel sympathetic to students who benefit from fidget toys.

But my last post about fidget spinners addressed an ongoing attack on our children’s focus and learning. We have middle school and high school children playing with tiny plastic dots that cling to each other, Wikki StixTM, ChewelryTM and alternative plastic chew toys, classic Silly PuttyTM, magnetic balls or disks. stress balls, various squishy toys, play foam, kinetic sand, rubbery squeeze toys such as KooshTM Balls, Velcro strips, and many other fidget toys, not all of them silent in character. No wonder flipping and thumping bottles on tables recently became a hot classroom fashion.

Eduhonesty: We are allowing too many toys. We ought to stick mostly to squeeze balls in regular classrooms. In special education classrooms, we may want to allow the full panoply of fidget toys, but the average language arts or social studies classroom is not benefitting when its students look like a focus group studying kids’ toys. I acknowledge exceptions must be made. Some students with IEPs need to chew special plastics to manage stress, for example.

But these toys are distracting, even when used according to the IEP. Eyes gravitate to fidget spinners, play foam and Koosh ballsTM. The sound of Velcro can reverberate throughout a room. Worse, toys end up being used by many students without IEPs. Sometimes Javier shares. Sometimes Jasmine brings her own Silly PuttyTM,

We are fighting fire with fire out here, using distractions to manage distractibility. Fidget toys can work. Setting fires to create a manmade firebreak protects people from wildfires. But deliberate fires don’t always go as planned. In the year 2000, the wind shifted, and the National Park Service managed to burn down 200 homes near Los Alamos, New Mexico.

The big fidget toy question of today: In the wrong place at the wrong time, is it possible we are burning down some classrooms in order to save them?

When Did We Decide to Surrender Gotham City?

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I don’t want to point fingers. I don’t want to step on teachers’ or administrators’ toes as I write this post. But Holy Popcorn, Batman! How did we get all these fidget spinners into classrooms? If this were an alien invasion, and spinners were mind-control devices, most of America’s youth would be marching onto waiting spaceships, pacified and ready to become fodder for cookbook recipes.

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How to serve man? I recommend against giving him fidget spinners. Those cute little devices help no one. Oh, somewhere out there, I’m sure we can find a student with ADHD who spins that thing mindlessly and manages to focus better on his mathematics because his hands are occupied.

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Now let’s invent a scale. On one side, we will put distractable students who benefit from fidget spinners. On the other side, we will put students who are distracted by fidget spinners. I know what this scale looks like, and to my principal friend who thinks these spinners are better than bottle flipping, he’s right. But when did we decide to enable bottle flipping? Spinners are merely an extension of the loss of adult control that let those bottles fly.fidgetteeter

water bottles-group-shot_slide

Has education reached a point where students think they can flip water and other bottles in class? Obviously the answer is yes. I wrote a post on bottle flipping some months ago, the last big craze in local classrooms. I saw those bottles for weeks and weeks. I seized those bottles for weeks and weeks. Now I see fidget spinners. At first, I took pictures. I’ve quit now. My phone does not need 300 pictures of random fidget spinners. If I’d asked students to lay out their spinners in the middle schools where I subbed during the last few weeks, I would not have been stunned to hit 300.

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Parents may be trying to hold the line but, if so, I have an alert for them: Students are selling fidget spinners to each other. I watched as an elementary teacher stayed and took control of a class where I was supposed to substitute. Her emergency lesson came because one girl sold a fidget spinner to another for $10 but then may or may not have provided the fidget. The seller said she had placed it in the other girl’s locker and it must have been stolen. The buyer naturally wanted her $10 back. How old were these girls? Eight? The new class rule was simple. No selling fidget spinners ever. No selling items to classmates.

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But the rule was not, “No fidget spinners!”

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These little toys are thieves of time. They are too engrossing to serve as true fidget toys, objects given to students to help them stay calm and focused. For some time now, teachers have been providing fidget toys to students, accepting some students’ need for movement and touch. The first fidget toys arrived in the classroom as part of IEPs, Individual Education Plans, managing to slither in as part of special education and related accommodations, and sometimes they worked. Fidget toys can help students use pent-up energy while focusing on teachers and classwork. Some students do have an easier time focusing on academics when clenching a squeeze ball. They distract the class less when using their fidget toys, too.

Eduhonesty: Many teachers are now seizing these cute, little, spinning devices. Some schools have banned them. But I remain baffled by the sheer number of “fidget” spinner toys that have not yet been banned. Fidget spinners do not help students pay attention; they have exactly the opposite effect. Eyes are drawn to spinning fidget spinners. The metal ones especially make interesting noises. That cream-colored one above glows in the dark. Students threw jackets over my head to demonstrate this much-admired effect.

In the meantime, under the guise of “behavioral support,” fidget spinners are being sold by the local pharmacy, big box stores, and even the local garden center. A little boy next to me today at a wedding reception was spinning his toy while an older sister ignored him, glued to her phone, earbuds blocking out the conversation around her.

I support fidget toys. If someone wants to hand a distractable student a squeeze ball or similar fidget toy, I have no problem with that strategy. The IEPs came up with those toys for a reason. For the right kids, fidget toys make education more manageable.

I DO NOT SUPPORT FIDGET SPINNERS. WHIRLY TOYS ARE TOO MUCH FUN, AND THAT SPINNING EFFECT CAN BE HYPNOTIC. When I subbed on Friday, a kid asked me if I thought spinners helped people concentrate. I told him, “No, students start paying attention to the spinner instead of the teacher.” He agreed with me. A number of students in the class agreed with both of us. A few others missed part of the discussion because they were playing with spinners.

I keep seizing spinners, putting those spinners in my little cross-shoulder bag. The bag gets heavy by the third or fourth spinner. I’m lucky. I look trustworthy. When I promise to hand the toy back at the end of class, students believe me, so I don’t have trouble. As a sub, I am not going to do much more than put these toys out of reach during class. If schools had hard policies, I might do more, but what I am coming across is, “It’s up to the teacher.”2017-05-02 10.58.10

Here are a few questions that beg for answers:

Why are administrations weaseling? Why should any object toxic to learning be “up to the teacher”? Why not ban fidget spinners — now that we have seen their effects? No student needs a fidget spinner. Many less troublesome fidget toys exist.

And a few more questions:

When did we hand control of the classroom over to the students? Why didn’t we throw every water bottle out on the spot? Why are we not seizing those spinners and making parents come in to pick them up? Are we being too nice, trying to be our students friends? Or are we just too swamped with meetings, data and testing to keep calling all the parents we would have to call to shut down the spinner invasion?

If a class loses 6 minutes to watching spinners per day, that means 1/2 hour of instruction was lost at week’s end — or 18 hours of instruction will be lost by year’s end. What if that time loss occurs in multiple classes? Fidget spinners should not be regarded either as unimportant toys or as helpful coping mechanisms. Mild distractions cannot be ignored in education.

Theft of learning time has never been a victimless crime.

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We Do Real


class pic(Click to enlarge and get clearer view.)

OK, there are far too many tests. The number of tests has gotten completely out of hand. They keep coming to classrooms where I sub to take students out for MAPTM testing right now, everywhere I go. I consider MAPTM tests among the most useful tests we are forced to give, but they are one more test in what can be a sea of testing in some districts.

I liked this sign. I liked the fact that tests were acknowledged, but buried on line four between ‘sorrys’ and ‘laughter.’ O.K., we do lots of tests but we do laughter and mistakes too.

Teachers can’t stop the tests.  Endless assessment is now part of the fabric of education.  This sign puts tests in their place and, as an added perk, should forestall whining. Why are we taking another test? Because that’s how we roll. See our sign?

Why not make your own personalized version for the classroom with lines like, “We do exciting science experiments” or “We discover America” ?

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Dunkin Donuts Is Your Friend

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We laughed hard about this highlighter in the teacher’s lounge, a teacher appreciation gift that had been passed out to all the teachers in the school. I photographed it and sent the pic on to my daughters.

The younger one replied, “That is so rude of them … at least you have a highlighter as consolation.”

“Oh, I did not even get a highlighter,” I answered. “I was only a sub. You have to be a fully certified full-time teacher who has worked a whole year to have earned your very own yellow highlighter!”

This post is for the clueless, for organizations and administrations who mean well but are strapped for cash.

Eduhonesty: Buy food. Go to Dunkin Donuts and put a few dozen donuts out for teachers. Even the ones on diets will appreciate the gesture. In the teacher’s lounge, one teacher suggested that another possible item to use with the word “brighter” might have been a package of Skittles. Skittles would be cheap and cute.

Highlighters… Ummm, no. No. Just no. I still have highlighters from when I retired. I have highlighters from back when I was taking continuing education classes in college before I retired. Any Great Highlighter Shortage of 2017 is a myth.

A package of dry-erase markers might be appreciated. Teachers crank through dry-erase markers. A package of colored pens might also brighten a teacher’s day.

But if funds are short, a sheet cake that says, “Thank you for all you do!” will work. It’s the thought that counts. Last year, I worked a long-term subbing position at a school whose administration hosted breakfast and passed out carnations at the end of the year. I would happily work for that administration anytime. My carnation sat in a bud vase, a reminder throughout the week that all my work had been noticed.

The men and women on teaching’s front lines deserve to know their efforts are truly valued.

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Coaches and Teacher-Leaders Should Travel a Two-Way Street

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Note: Most Sherlocks should never be coaches or teacher-leaders — no matter how well they understand educational theory.

We had mentor programs in the past. Mentor programs were pretty straightforward. An experienced teacher picked up a little extra money helping a new teacher learn to manage a classroom. The mentor might teach other skills as needed, such as workload control. I support mentor programs. I love mentor programs. I think we might open them up, too, so that teachers who would LIKE  advice can ask for a mentor even when they have considerable classroom experience. We can all improve.

That said, I’d like to voice a few concerns about the money are we spending on academic coaches and teacher-leaders in a time when many districts are cash-strapped. Where are we finding these people? I spent my last few years before retirement being coached off and on by three people. I give one an A, another a C-, and the third a,”You have got to be kidding me!”

Hello? I cannot be the only one out here thinking that coaches ought to have at least three or four years of solid classroom experience before we inflict them on experienced, working teachers. The absence of any experience in special education or bilingual education ought to disqualify wannabe coaches from “improving” teachers within these areas, too. Surely our coaches and teacher leaders should walk the walk before we cut them loose to carve large swaths of fear and distress throughout a school. For that matter, if enough teachers are tearing up in meetings, maybe we should just drop these putative coaches and leaders. I hugged too many crying teachers during my last years in education.

Just because coaches and teacher-leaders are in fashion, must districts automatically find bodies to thrust into these roles? The right coaches and teacher-leaders represent positive forces for the good in education. But I am certain some positions ought to be left unfilled. If a district could not find a person who knew geometry, administrators would not go out to grab a random guy off the street to teach geometric proofs.

I’d like to make a  suggestion to educational administrators and teachers advocating for themselves. As part of any coaching program, staff members should regularly evaluate the effectiveness of their coaches and teacher leaders. The coach/teacher relationship should be a two-way street. 

I would happily have given one of my coaches five out of five stars. She was experienced, insightful and dedicated to her craft. Her suggestions helped and she knew how to manage people.

I could have suggested improvements for another, much younger coach who was copying her fellow coaches as she tried to figure out how to do her job. This coach had moments, but she was not improving the school climate. She also could not answer simple questions such as, “What if they cannot read the test?”

Favorite quote from this young coach from when I suggested giving teachers a few more excellents on her long checklist, just to help boost morale: Find praise, I said, even if it’s the room set-up or the clarity of the standards written on the whiteboard.

“I don’t do that,” she replied. “I am still learning how to do this job and none of the others do that.”

This young coach had potential. Her observations seemed sound, even if her people skills were a bit scary. She meant well.*

But inept coaches help no one. 🦉Bad coaching is worse than no coaching. Coaches can add to a workload while adding little or no insight whatsoever about what is going on in the classroom. Teachers can identify these coaches. They should be given the opportunity. Given their impact on a school, coaches and teacher-leaders should not be lightly scrutinized. They should be continuously evaluated.

The process does not have to be demanding. A simple, short form should suffice. Ask teachers, “How did the coach help you?” Ask them to rate the usefulness of the advice they received. Ask them why they agree or disagree with advice received. Etc,

Well-intentioned does not necessarily equal helpful.

Eduhonesty: I recommend we watch the watchers.

*Anytime I write a phrase like ‘she meant well,’ I wonder if I have gone Fluffy Bunny. Fluffy Bunnies try to make excuses for people because they don’t want to be mean. Too Fluffy can quickly become dishonest. The truth is that girl made my heart sink every time she entered the room. Even when I won, education itself mostly lost. Watching games made her happy because students were “engaged.” Watching instruction made her pick out every kid who was not listening to the 7th grade Common Core math I was required to present, whether kids were operating at a second or fourth grade level mathematically or not. My best tactical move might have been endless Jeopardy etc. games, especially since that was the only format where giving remediation did not risk getting me in trouble. If I explained items off the common lesson plan, such as the order of operations that some needed to review, I risked trouble for deviating from the grade’s common plan. But if I buried that lesson inside a game, I was safe. My best bet that last year just might have been a forever classroom Jeopardy marathon,

That Kid Had to Go

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From the preceding post: “ESSA also requires new data to be reported about school “climate” and safety, including data on school suspensions, expulsions, violence, and chronic absenteeism.”

America is overdue at demanding some of this information. Numbers on chronic absenteeism should be nailed down. Chronic absenteeism causes many academic failures, especially in urban and rural areas. Strategies for tackling the problem of those empty desks should move to the forefront of attacks on the achievement gap.

I’d like better violence numbers as well. The government has already documented that violence rates are much higher in larger and urban schools. We might benefit from understanding why loss of learning from violence has become heavily clustered within certain locations, school types and demographics, at least if we could honestly own up to the conclusions we drew — like “you should not put 42 urban high school students in one classroom” or “you may need to pay attention to probable gang affiliations in scheduling classes.”

Eduhonesty: But I don’t like the insistence on data on school suspensions and expulsions. A couple of days ago, I subbed in a class where I sent one student out twice during the day. The Principal came to get him both times. Apparently, this boy interrupts his classes rudely and regularly. I don’t know him well enough to say for sure, but I’d consider the possibility that he suffers from oppositional defiant disorder. The class told me the boy always causes trouble. As defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), oppositional defiant disorder may be diagnosed in a person who has a recurrent pattern of angry/irritable moods, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness lasting at least 6 months. In my personal experience, we may be talking a lifetime, if a short lifetime, of defiant behavior that responds only occasionally to interventions.

After the second time I called in the cavalry, I broke from the lesson plan to give a short lesson on the latté effect. First we ran specialty coffee numbers. I showed students that one $5 coffee per day might not seem to be much money, but that coffee cost $25 by week’s end if we only stopped on weekdays on the way home. By year’s end, we had spent $1,300 dollars, somewhat more if we also went out for coffee on the weekends. Then I moved into minutes. If we lost 20 minutes per day listening to “Wilhelm” rant and refuse to do his work, while sometimes making random noises simply to disrupt the class, we lost 60 learning hours per year, which might be broken down further into 12 school days, or 1/15 of the school year. (Yes, the school day runs a bit longer, but I discounted art, P.E., lunch and passing periods.)

That 20 minutes per day no longer seemed so trivial when we were done. A few kids were staring seriously at those numbers, obviously aghast. I presented the case for ignoring Wilhelm, which might extinguish at least some behaviors, but then I had to leave this class to spend the rest of the year with the boy who had been hijacking their learning daily.

America has many Wilhelms. My concern with data on suspensions and expulsions is that I foresee pressure to prevent those suspensions and expulsions. The shift is already occurring. Offenses that used to net suspensions and expulsions now may receive lunch in an in-school suspension room. Data showing that regularly suspended students or expelled students tend to drop out of school and fall further behind due to missed school has led to a movement to keep students in the classroom as we attempt to salvage their learning. Teachers are then expected to keep these students well-enough managed so that other students learn in spite of the student regularly disrupting or trying to disrupt their classes.

Let’s add to this the pressure to present a good picture to state bureaucrats who are scanning the data under ESSA to identify problem schools. Many educational leaders and teachers are running scared now, afraid to tell truths that may put them in a spotlight leading to possible mandatory improvement measures. If 20 suspensions seem like “too many,” will nervous principals and administrators opt for lower penalties that stay off the radar? Will Wilhelm receive a check-in/check-out form instead of a suspension, a behavior form for all his teachers to fill out daily, so that no tick mark has to be put in the suspension column of data intended for the state? When sent out, will Wilhelm receive another lecture from his Dean that amounts to nothing more than a break from class? Will the teacher keep Wilhelm in class to avoid upsetting that Dean, who may be getting steadily more stressed as he or she tries to avoid suspending or expelling students who ought to be suspended or expelled?

Well-meaning but fuzzy-headed leaders have been trying to rescue our Wilhelms, and they have my sympathy. I can see the good in Wilhelm. I can see the potential. But I also remember an old saying that gets forgotten too often. As the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., said  “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”

Wilhelm’s regular attempts to disrupt his classroom(s) are not victimless crimes. At 20 minutes a day, this kid can steal 1/15 of an entire school year away from every student he distracts for that length of time. He is stealing learning from everyone around him, day by day by day.

The problem with reporting expulsions and suspensions as part of a government mandate: I foresee schools declining to issue those expulsions and suspensions in order to look better to their state. But I was in that classroom. I assure readers, that kid had to go. He wasn’t going to let me get a word in edgewise. He wasn’t going to let me present the day’s lesson in any continuous fashion. He loved making random, loud noises just to try to break my flow. He had to go.

And I kicked him out. But I was the sub. I never had to return to that classroom again. I didn’t have to care what the Principal thought of me. The Principal in question is an old-school guy and I am guessing he did not think less of me for my decision. He probably approved. But if I were a first- or second-year teacher, would I have had the courage to make those calls? Educators are running scared. Educational administrators are running scared.

“Too many” suspensions and expulsions will undoubtedly look bad to bureaucrats in state departments of education. But too few will ensure that. for the sake of a few defiant kids, whole classrooms end up knowing far less than they might have known otherwise. That’s the conundrum, and that’s why I’d like to return local control to schools, rather than add a few more data categories to NCLB under the new name ESSA, while ensuring that legions of state bureaucrats get to keep their jobs.

The bottom-line must be learning. If Wilhelm is making learning impossible, he needs to go. It’s too bad about Wilhelm’s lost learning. The plan where we let him sink the ship with everyone else in it, however, seems only slightly dumber than my kickstarter to build an elevator to the moon. I prefer the plan where we make Wilhelm the Captain and only occupant of his own ship, and send him home to deal with the consequences of his actions.

I am open to Plan B where we create a learning environment within the school where Wilhelm can have an in-school suspension with continued academic demands and opportunities for learning. In fact, I prefer Plan B, but I am also aware that some struggling schools may not have the staff, space and money to put Plan B into action right now. Those schools should not have to be afraid to send disruptive students home.