I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Overwhelmingly Positive Response to PNJ Viewpoint on School Behavior Part II

The text message from a district History Teacher and coach was short and to the point on Sunday morning, the day this viewpoint dropped:

"Excellent oped!!  Thank you for voicing the frustration that many of us feel in the classroom."
was the content of this text message.

On Wednesday, I was on the campus of an elementary school on my lunch break.

Two teachers at this west-side elementary pulled me aside when I was on their campus.  One, a kindergarten teacher, said  "I just want to say thank you for writing that piece.  I agree with it wholeheartedly" she said.  "The behaviors just seem to be getting worse and worse, and this year is especially bad!"

Another teacher that walked by joined the conversation, explaining she has taught at this school for more than 7 years and has dealt with her share of discipline issues as well, suggesting that "Administration really does not seem to get what we are dealing with;  they don't seem to realize the uphill challenges we are facing everyday--it's like they are oblivious to it"

Later that same day, three different elementary teachers from a different elementary school contacted me about atrocious, out-of-control and unsafe behaviors being tolerated at their school.

"Every day XXXXX is out of control. He is throwing things across the room, and when a call for assistance is made they remove him--but then he is right back the next day and the bad behavior continues"  said one teacher.  She went on "I believe that Mrs. XXXXXXX  is trying to cope with XXXXX, but the feeling I get is that she is not getting support from downtown--and this is not safe, someone is going to get hurt!"

The other teacher from that school that called echoed these sentiments  "I know how to teach, and this is NOT a classroom control issue. I've taught for almost 20 years-- I can and do deal with these run of the mill issues.  This is different than that"

Finally, a former Pine Forest HS teacher related to me that "These out of control student issues are more common than people realize, I hear these sorts of complaints from teachers in this district all of the time"  he stated to me.

The following email (excerpts of which I'll paste below) that I received from yet another teacher really defines the problem---and suggests and requests a common-sense solution (bolded by me)

"I wanted to tell you how much I appreciated you recent op-ed in the PNJ.  It definitely hit home... I have been a teacher for nearly 30 years.  I have been a teacher in Escambia County for nearly 27 of those 30 years at the same school.  I wanted to share that I am very concerned about discipline.   I have witnessed events in the past three years that I never dreamed I would see as a  teacher.  Let me put it like this.. I can retire as soon as possible, which will be next December.  While I may stay a bit longer, I plan to retire.  While I truly believe the administration at my school realizes the serious issues we are facing, they tell us their hands are tied, and they have little recourse.  I never thought I would see the day when my judgement as a teacher was so disregarded that I am not even allowed to write a referral on a student for a serious offense.  Classroom management is my strong suit, however, the level of disrespect on a daily basis is difficult to endure.   I do have a suggestion that will not cost anything or require cameras.  My suggestion is that when administrators are doing a classroom walk thru to see what I am doing, they instead inquire about my day, ask if I am having any problems, and if they need to speak with a student or make a call home.  I feel as a teacher with nearly 30 years experience, this would put most of your "small time" problems on alert.  Without parent inconvenience, and knowledge of the problem, we are beating our heads against a wall.  At my school, it isn't unusual to have TWO walk throughs in a day.  As a teacher who is ALWAYS on task, this interruption would be better served addressing discipline.  The children would then see that there is a connection between the classroom teacher, and authority.  At the moment, there is not a connection.  They walk through to see what we are doing, and discipline isn't part of it.  This is just a suggestion by an old timer who is about to leave the building.  I loved your op ed, and again, thank you for your support.  Warmest regards"

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