Recess, Respect and Middle School

I recently joined the Facebook group for my daughter’s middle school’s PTA. There have been a large number of posts recently about how hard it is to get substitute teachers to come to the school because of behavior issues in some of the classrooms. These behavior issues include entire classes ignoring the teacher, Kids dancing on the desks cussing, talking back and the sub crying because they have lost control. There has also been a recent incident of a teacher being assaulted by a student. The group is full of excuses as to why this is happening. They blame the administration. They say the poor little babies have too much responsibility thrown on them in 6th grade. The recent hot topic is the belief that giving them recess will cure all of the behavior ills. The two things I haven’t seen mentioned: better subs and parent responsibility.

I do agree that many studies show that giving kids time to play helps them grow as people and build a variety of skills. I agree that letting kids be active will release some pent up energy and might make the students less fidgety and talkative in class. I agree that some sort of physical education needs to be a standard for every student as it is as important as the other skills being taught. Do I think recess for middle school is the answer? I’m not sure. I think just daily PE classes would be helpful. I think less strict rules about talking, walking around, etc during lunch would be helpful. I don’t think any of this will fix the issues mentioned above.

Students who dance on desks, cuss out teachers and assault teachers won’t become model citizens because they got to go to recess.  These issues are not the result of a little bit of pent up energy.  Most times it is the result of too little parenting happening at home.  Too many parents either aren’t around to parent or are so lenient at home that the kids learn nothing about restraint, respect and just generally how to act in public.  Kids are coddled and given everything they want.  They aren’t punished for treating their parents in an uncivil manner. How do we expect them to learn to treat others with respect. Instead of looking around for others to blame, parents need to first look at themselves.

Also, if a sub loses control of a classroom and is crying in the front of the class it is probably not the right job for them. Someone needs to be willing to have this discussion with them and encourage them to find another career choice. Teaching is hard work and not for everyone.

Finally, actually punishing kids who misbehave in school is not a bad thing. If we allow kids to act this way with no repercussions, why are we surprised when the behavior continues and sometimes escalates?

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