It has really made me think about how I handled my classroom when I was still a classroom teacher and what is the purpose of writing a referral. I can say that my position has changed as I have gotten older. I remember being the number one referral writer in my school my first year teaching. I also know I was near the bottom my last year in the classroom. Now, I'm no expert on classroom management but I feel like I was pretty successful. I have just grown to believe that, except for violence or drugs, there is probably no need to ever write a referral or remove a student from your classroom.
- It tells the student that you've given up. As soon as you send students out of the classroom, you have told them that you can't handle them, don't want to handle them, and you're not going to handle them. Nobody wants to feel like they've been given up on.
- Kids can't learn if they are not in your room. I remember asking many students where their schedule says they are suppose to be during my class. They inevitably said, with a puzzled look on their face, "Your class Mr Clark." I always told them that they were right. There schedule didn't say the office, in-school suspension, or anywhere else. They were meant to be in my class and we were going to work it out together.
- It makes it easier to send them out the next time. Once you start sending a kids out of your room, it gets easier each time. It's what happened to me my first year teaching. Every day it got easier to send kids out for whatever reason. Once you've crossed that path, where do you go from there?
- It doesn't help the student. I don't know how else to say it other than that. It just doesn't. If writing a referral helped, then I would have been teacher of the year my first year teaching. It is a temporary fix for a larger problem. When students are having problems, they don't need less teacher interaction, they need more.
- It doesn't help the class. We tend to tell ourselves that we are doing it for the good of the class but if we are honest with ourselves, then we would admit that it's really for us. We just get tired of dealing with the situation and we are seeking relief for ourselves. If anything, it weakens our role as the leader of the classroom.
Now this does not mean that you have to be a pushover and let kids get away with murder. You must deal with the issue and get it resolved by any means necessary. If you don't, then both you and the students in the classroom will be destined to struggle. Failing cannot be an option. It can't be an option when it comes to learning and it can't be an option when it comes to behavior.