Thursday, July 06, 2006

Teaching an Old ISD New Tricks

As amazing as it seems, it appears someone at the TEA was actually using their brains for once this week.
A Katy teacher fired after Scotch taping the mouths of her students must be reinstated or paid her $40,000 annual salary, a Texas Education Agency official ruled in a case that raised questions about how teachers discipline their students.
In case you don't remember the facts of the case, elementary school teacher Jennifer Silva was disciplined and dismissed earlier this year for placing scotch tape over the mouths of several garrulous members of her second grade classroom.
Silva admitted taping the mouths of a handful of students after trying several other methods to get them to work quietly. She appealed to the students to control their own behavior, marked some discipline cards and issued repeated reminders to quiet down.

Some parents praised Silva for being creative in her discipline approach, saying the district overreacted in firing her.

Other parents criticized Silva, saying she overstepped her authority as a teacher. They called for her immediate removal from the classroom.
As a parent, I can say that I whole-heartedly support Ms. Silva both in her attempts to regain her teaching position and in her original endeavors to discipline and educate her students. By placing two strips of tape over the children's mouths, she neither injured nor endangered the students. (I know this because my own children have on numerous occasions applied tape to their own skin for one silly reason or another, and have attempted to use the tape-over-the-mouth routine to try to silence annoying siblings. It doesn't usually work, but it also doesn't hurt.)

Instead, what she attempted to do was to draw attention to the recurring problem in a way that was both humorous (assumedly to both the offending chatters and the rest of the class) and at the same time demonstrative of the problem and the solution. In the Songbird household, if we discovered that a teacher of one of our "little angels" had to resort to such an action, the entire family would have gotten a good laugh about it. After a little home disciplining was applied to discourage a repeat offense.

But in too many households in today's overly permissive society, parents disdain any actions by teachers or school administrators that might threaten their child's self esteem. And the school administrators seem to agree with such a stance. Not only is classroom discipline expressly forbidden, but many are pushing to remove such atrocities as grades, scores (showing winners vs. losers) in athletic events, and anything else that might set one child above another as a result of effort, talent or intelligence.

Not surprisingly, these same parents who refuse to allow the education system to discipline their kids are all too often the very same ones who seem to rely on the schools to teach morals and values to their children, blaming teachers when their little angels fail to succeed or grow up with major behavioral problems.

Perhaps if more teachers were allowed to apply a little scotch tape in class, our classrooms might be a little more productive and might maintain an atmosphere more conducive to education. I wonder if Ms. Silva would be willing to expend a few strips of that tape to the parents, as well.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Kyle said...

The sad thing about this decision by the TEA is that it was based solely on a point of procedure, and was NOT because the agency approved of Ms. Silva's right to discipline her students (or the creative method which she used). While it's great that she will (or at least SHOULD) get her teaching position back, a much more preferable outcome would have included some support by the school or district administration, or even by the TEA itself.

7/07/2006 9:28 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo! However, as an employee of the said district, I'm quite sure they'll just pay her the 40K and send her packing. I wish her well. I'm sure she's smart enough and will in no time flat be make some real dough. Hopefully she'll take some lavish vacation with that 40K.

7/08/2006 11:11 PM  

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