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5 Alternatives to In-School Suspension

5 Alternatives to In-School Suspension

Research has shown that when it comes to education, seat time equates to success. These results are causing many schools and districts to reevaluate their approaches to discipline, particularly any forms that remove the student from the classroom for an extended period of time. While there are certain behaviors that will always merit such a response, there are ways of instructing a child on appropriate school behaviors while minimizing disruption to the student’s educational programming.

Enhanced monitoring

Sometimes, all a student needs is the knowledge that someone is paying attention. With enhanced monitoring, teachers give daily reports on the child’s behavior—either by a form or by digital means—that go on the student’s record as well as to administration, parents, and any other necessary parties. This alternative works best if the student is personally responsible for gathering the report from the teacher rather than the process happening behind the scenes, as the student has to keep in mind that he or she will need to face the teacher after every period.

Additional programming

Curricula are available that instruct students on desired behaviors, and teachers can write their own. These “mini courses” can include background information, practice, and assessment just like regular programming, but they work best when they zero in on the student’s specific infraction. For example, a student caught fighting can do some additional study in conflict resolution. Additional programming can be great practice not only in positive behaviors but also in the academic skills a student needs for success in the classroom.

Project-based discipline

Project-based learning engages students academically, so why can’t a project-based disciplinary program? A student would be given the opportunity to propose a project that remediates or reflects the infraction and then work with an adult to monitor the necessary steps through completion. For example, a student who bullied his or her peers can produce an antibullying video, editorial, or graphic arts campaign.

Peer mediation/mentoring

In some situations, other students are better at rectifying behavior incidents than adults. Consider establishing a peer-mediation program or a student-led court process for certain offenses. If older students are available, pair the offender with one for mentoring. On the flip side, assigning the offender to help a younger student with tutoring has shown to be a positive intervention as well.

Parent shadowing

It may be inconvenient for many, but parents should be offered the opportunity to shadow their child for a day. It helps build relationships between everyone involved and still drives home the point that the student’s behavior beforehand has been unacceptable. If you implement a shadow program, make sure that communication stays strong with parents long after they leave campus.

Looking for more attendance-related resources? Here are some chronic absenteeism resources in honor of Attendance Awareness Month!

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Scott Sterling

Scott Sterling is a former English teacher who worked in Title I middle and high schools in St. Petersburg, Florida who is now a freelance writer who focuses on education. He is also a stay-at-home dad to his 4-year-old daughter Lily, who will soon be starting her own educational journey.