Suspensions are overused and misused. They are not effective and more often than not, students repeat the inappropriate behavior. The question one needs to ask is, "Why are students not learning?" Answering this question with "because they don't act appropriately" is not good enough. The focus of this article is to provide insight into student misbehavior and provide some food for thought in improving the suspension system.
Our Current Suspension System
As you can tell from the table below, there are several issues with our current system and many were not included. The bottom line is that no matter what the issue, it needs to be dealt with. If you cover it with a rug, eventually it is going to be exposed again. It will continue to rear up until it is faced and the proper assistance has been provided. So the next question is do we want to continue to deal with the same problem over and over again?
Currently, the system we use includes in-school suspensions, out-of-school suspensions, alternative education schools, and expulsions.
|Type of Suspension||Pros||Cons|
In-School Suspension: Provide an in-house approach by having students who committed infractions stay in a designated room to work independently on their school work. There is no talking unless the student has a question for the ISS supervisor.
Isolated; remain in school; work on assignments (sometimes)
Do not receive the day’s class work; work is completed incorrectly; students use the time to sleep
Out-Of-School Suspensions: Require the student to leave the school and remain home for one to ten days.
Removes the student from the situation
Misses assignments; does not take responsibility for their conduct
Alternative Education Schools: Students transfer to a different school, usually another school in the district, or an alternative education program. Qualifying students are usually failing or have failed and have numerous out-of-school suspensions.
Remain in school
Students do not take responsibility for their actions, and it encourages association with other students with disciplinary issues.
Expulsions: Used for serious infractions such as drugs and weapons, where criminal charges can be brought against the student or students.
Removes students who may cause harm to another or influence others with drug usage
Some drug infractions are petty in nature, i.e. use of Tylenol, aspirin, and cough drops
Taking a Close Look at Out-Of-School Suspensions
Let’s think about out-of-school suspensions. What is their impact? Do kids fear them? Do they feel bad that they got it? Well, they may, but overall it is a reward for their not-so-good behavior. Giving students the reward of having x-amount of days off to play and stay out of school is not the answer.
We need a program that teaches students how to interact with others, their peers, and authority figures, while still being able to voice their opinion. They need to know that they matter and that everything is being done to help them. That's the key. Everyone should feel wanted since this is an important part of the educational system. If we solve the problem by suspending them, we are not solving the problem at all. We are only adding to the problem. It’s like a rug: We can sweep all kinds of garbage underneath it but it’s still there—hidden but there. Unless students uncover it and deal with it, it will remain there. This will create bumps in the road until eventually, their teachers and administration don’t have a choice. They have to deal with it or pass the buck to someone else who may be able to deal with the situation and its causes.
Ways to Improve the Suspension System
First of all, we need to keep them in school unless it is serious. For weapons and drugs, students need to be removed from the school grounds and proper actions need to be taken. We must keep our students safe.
For the other students, we need to provide:
- isolation or removal from the situation so they have time to mull over the problem.
- guidance in understanding.
- approval from the teacher and the class to go back into the room.
Separation From the Situation
Students need to be separated from the situation so they can take some time to understand what happened and why it happened. They need to know that what they did was wrong, how it was wrong, the effects on others, the consequences they face, and how they can improve their behavior for future and similar situations.
They need to know they can voice their opinion, but there is a right and a wrong way to do so. They also need to know that they matter. The students need someone who will work with them to encourage them and help them to stay on the right track. This may be a teacher, administrator, staff employee, college student, or a student in a higher grade. But a word of caution: just assigning a person to help a student is not sufficient. The troubled student needs to have a repertoire with his or her “buddy.”
Counseling may also be needed. Students may have an anger issue that is set off when a person does a specific behavior. It is important to identify it and work on being proactive versus reactive.
In addition to this guidance, they also need to continue with their work. Just because they have been removed from the classroom, it doesn't give them the OK to avoid their work. It is amazing how many students will look for ways to get out of class if the class is not holding their attention or if there is some type of conflict within the room.
For those who are avoiding their classes because of ISS or skipping, staying after school may be beneficial. It gives them the time to work on missed assignments as well as help them understand that their behavior is unacceptable. A teacher's detention will not do, but an administrator's detention will. The students need to know that not completing their work is unacceptable and they will get to visit the administrator. Of course, it would be a nice touch if the administrator was to give several lectures throughout.
Guidance in Understanding
In order to provide any help or guidance to students, there must be an understanding of the causes. There are multiple reasons, but here are ten common causes of misbehavior:
- Masking an inability or difficulty in understanding what is being taught
- The teacher is picking on them (unintentionally or intentionally).
- They are made to feel inadequate.
- Not being challengee
- They are not appreciated and respected.
- They feel the rules within the classroom or the school are unfair.
- They are being bullied or harassed by other students.
- They feel mentally and physically exhausted, i.e. tired or hungry
- They are being abused, i.e. prefer isolation.
Once the cause or causes have been identified, then a panel needs to get together, much like a SIT for Special Education. A counselor, teachers, parents, and administration need to be involved to develop a plan of action to meet the student's individual needs. It is also important to monitor it. Do changes need to be made? What is and is not working? Have grades improved? Has behavior improved? Have there been any additional suspensions? Questions of this nature need to be asked to ensure that all is being done to help each and every student who needs help.
Getting Permission to Reenter the Classroom
I was discussing the idea of suspensions with a Facebook friend of mine, and we had a fabulous discussion. She told me that one of the schools she had taught at required the in-school suspended students to ask permission to come back into the room. I immediately thought, "How wonderful. It is requiring the students to be held accountable for their actions, and it requires the students to share what they had done and how they are going to improve their behavior within the classroom." Of course, the teacher has to be willing to work with the student. Sometimes, teachers just want to give up. Yet, it is more important than ever to be willing to work with the suspended students. The student needs to know the teachers care. Everyone wants to feel loved and appreciated despite their shortcomings. Kids are no different. They all want to feel as if theyaree valued.
Currently, our school systems have a variety of ways to handle disciplinary actions. However, they are not working for multiple reasons. Students need to be educated. They are not being taught how to improve their actions by being kicked out of school and giving up their education. They have to know people care. They need time to be isolated and guidance to help students find the right way to behave. Once all of that is accomplished, students also need to ask permission not get back in the classrooms. This holds them accountable and forces them to face their discrepancies as well as ways they can improve. Above all, the student needs to know that his or her school family care and want only the best for him or her!!
Alex Jones on December 08, 2019:
tf is wrong with these comments
yeetmaster87 on September 16, 2019:
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Ashely on March 19, 2019:
crezzy on February 28, 2019:
ZanyGuy on February 27, 2019:
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Kimberly W Schultz on November 27, 2018:
Have you looked into reverse suspensions? The data indicates that this seems to work much better Students are in school and still must take responsibility for their behavior. I've been in education for 24 years, and this seems like the best alternative.
Takeda24 on October 31, 2018:
i have a question as 13 year old boy i been going threw somethings at home and i wanted to know if its OK for a adult to yell and call a child names like stupid idiot and bring stuff from the past would that even help a kid or not cuz i really want to find a answer to this question
Takeda24 on October 25, 2018:
I find it so stupid how people get to carried away with school supiseins. honestly talking to the person who did wrong correct there thinking would be better abnd make them feel bad for what they did will really help cuz thats what they did to me so schools shouyld really try that
h on October 17, 2018:
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Dakota on September 04, 2018:
I think that it could be used as a good thing and a bad thing kids who are suspended usually end up doing the act again. Kids that have to stay after school and work on work because they were skipping or ISS is a good way to get extra help and to make them know that its not allowed. Having to ask to come back into the classroom after being suspended is a good way to make the student take acountability and tell the teacher the improvements they can make to become successful. Instead of sending a student home for ISS give them to the administrator of the school have them work there so they aren't losing time to stay caught up on school.
leahperry on March 11, 2017:
i did not like it because it was just drama sorry for saying that.
waegai fiuaksbuklar on April 06, 2016:
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Edward Ebersole on July 08, 2015:
Thank you NJ, better late than never. I found my sources a while back ago and my professor was thoroughly impressed with my work. I got an A on my research paper. Again thank you and have a good day.
P.S. she accepted your work as one of my works cited.
Frank Wu on July 07, 2015:
Lots of people tell me that theirs and my recommend point of view is Issusing internal suspenion (means have to come to school ) for student when they missbehave instead of Supension (means have to go home for amount) becuase the disadvantage about supensing student from school is like rewarding ,Holiday and some student might take advantage of current supension system mean from school by thinking that if Student misbehave at school if they get suspeded from school their parent take me on the holiday.
hbjhb on May 28, 2015:
NJ's Ponderings (author) from Hickville, NY on July 10, 2014:
Edward, if you google it, some of the options you would surely find a pdf document. Other wise, I would try ERIC. Here's the link, http://eric.ed.gov/. Good luck and please do share.
Edward Ebersole from Charlotte County, FL. on March 23, 2014:
Oh, I also agree with kephrira as well.
Edward Ebersole from Charlotte County, FL. on March 23, 2014:
Hi, I am writing a research paper on "Corporal Punishment Should Be Allowed In The Public Schools" and I was wondering if you knew where I could find some stuff like a PDF or some educational journal on the pros and cons of in-school suspensions and alternative educational programs? I just want to cite the material. I do agree with you though.
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NJ's Ponderings (author) from Hickville, NY on March 11, 2011:
Thank you for your comments, kephrira. I agree something has to be done about suspensions!!
kephrira from Birmingham on February 25, 2011:
I've always thought suspension was a silly punishment because they are generally used with a child that really doesn't want to be at school anyway, so it's like giving them a gift and calling it a punishment. I absolutely agree that if a child can't be at school because of the safety of others they should be somewhere else in a controlled environment and not just sent home. The troubled kids who get into trouble are often the ones with little stability and discipline at home, and home may be where their problems stem from, so sending them home isn't going to solve anything.