More often than not, our teachers can manage student disruptions on their own, but there are occasions when principals must deal directly with students. Unless there is some sort of system in place, though, sending a disruptive student to the principal’s office is rarely productive.
You know what we mean, right? The student arrives, we ask why s/he was sent to see us, and s/he replies, “I don’t know.” Only later on do we hear the second version of the story from the teacher…
To circumvent these situations, we’ve come to rely on a simple system put forth in Abby Bergman, Judy Powers, Michael Pullen’s book, The Survival Kit for the Elementary School Principal. Here’s how it works.
Students need predictability, and so do the teachers who may be at their wits’ end. To save time and gain a more accurate picture of what happened between the student and teacher, we require teachers to fill out a discipline referral form and send it along with the student. The form contains two sections: the first part is completed by the teacher and the second by us.
Discipline Referral Form
- Student name
- Nature of Incident
- Prior Actions Taken by Teacher
- Principal Action
- Parent(s)/Guardian Notified?
- Parent Response
- Follow-Up Plan
After meeting with the student and following up with the teacher, we file the form in a “card box,” an alphabetized file box in which we keep every student’s name and photo on an index card.
After meeting with the student and discussing the incident, we also ask that they complete a written behavior incident report form that answers the following questions:
- This is what I did
- This is what I could have done to avoid this
- This is what I will do in the future
After the student completes the form, we discuss the infraction to make sure the child understands what about his or her behavior is objectionable. It’s a simple system, but it keeps us organized, saves us a lot of time, and helps us quickly get to the heart of the issue.