It's 9:09 on a Wednesday night. I have just gotten off the phone with one of my favorite students' mother. I had to call because *Melissa left her calculator in her locker for my class and had to ask if she could go get it. Of course she was allowed to get it, because she had to have it for class...but she also was given an After School Detention for having to go get it. Now, this is where it gets crazy...the fantastic, wonderful, beautiful, delightful child TOLD me that she left it in her locker, asked if she could go get it without a detention and even said "Mrs. Madden, it was on my mind...I told *Heath to bring his, but I just completely forgot to get it out of my locker!" I should have let her go get it without giving her a detention, right? I thought so too...
BUT, (you knew there would be a but, didn't you?) I have been working really hard at being a more consistent teacher. I have been known to overlook something because I considered the student who committed the grievous error (and said something like "Oh...it won't ever happen again"). Well, I've been called on it. Too many times to be comfortable. I don't like being accused of showing favoritism or being racist, because my job is hard enough without having to worry about that. For instance, when another one of my favorite students left her notebook in her locker (something that they need EVERY DAY!) and I gave her an ASD for leaving class to go get it, she was unaware that some other students had suffered the same consequences for the same or a similar behavior. When I called the home of *Brandy (who just happens to be African American) I was accused of being racist. Mind you, I LOVE *Brandy! She's smart, beautiful, flipping hilarious, respectful, kind...all the things you want your own children to be.
Another perfect example is *Stacy. She is a voracious reader. That is a great quality to have, especially in middle school. However, Stacy loves to read so much that if she's not taking notes from the board and should be listening to instruction or watching her MATH teacher do a "think aloud", she's reading...under her desk...with her book inside the pages of her notebook...or acting like she's tired with her head down and book in her lap reading. Then she wonders why she doesn't do her very best on tests and quizzes...too distracted by her reading. So in Stacy's class I made a rule...Ahem (in a very loud teacher voice) "Ladies and Gentlemen...from this day forward, if I see you with a book out reading...a book unrelated to math, and I have not expressly given you permission to read, like I might after a test or quiz, then you will receive and After School Detention!" Cut to the next day. *Jennifer, a fantastic, beautiful, sweet, smart student who makes straight A's in my class is reading her novel after she finishes her warm up. Rather than issue her an ASD I walk over and quietly whisper "put the book away...remember?" Now I want to make it clear that I do not remember ever having to ask Jennifer to stop reading and pay attention in class, AND she has not made a grade lower than an A all year. Anyway, now I'm unfair because I didn't give Jennifer an ASD. And to make it worse, Stacy is still reading under her desk top and I can't catch her, so the whole reason I made the rule just out-smarts me again!
See, here's the thing...I might give someone an after school detention that no one else knows about. So should I really make a spectacle out of it every time I give one, so that everyone is aware? Would that solve the problem? When I let *Kevin borrow my calculator, I didn't SAY "but you have an ASD" but maybe I gave one anyway. I had to call home and let his mom know, but Melissa, Jennifer, Brandy and Stacy didn't know that I did that...so they think I didn't. They now think I'm inconsistent and/or unfair.
This is REALLY hard! Being consistent. If they'd just remember their junk it wouldn't be so hard. If I didn't have to repeat the same thing 80 bobobbagazillion times, then I wouldn't have to make rules that seem so unfair. I wouldn't have to worry about being accused of being racist, or unfair, or weird, or WHATEVER! It wouldn't be so hard. By the way...Melissa's mom was the 14th mom I spoke to tonight. Does that make me unfair? I have 94-ish students...I issued over 10% of them an ASD. All I wanna do is have some fun...and teach some math while I'm doing that. HUMPH!