School counsellor

macbirchFebruary 13, 2007

Our primary school (ages 5-12) counsellor has said "there's no right and wrong, only consequences". I'd be interested in what people think.

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I don't agree with this at all. If you did not hear this directly from the school counselor, then I would go to the him/her first! You would not believe how badly rumors can spread between parents in a school community. If this was told to you BY the counselor (not another parent or child, THEN I would contact the building principal.

As a second grade teacher (SNOW DAY TODAY!!!), I teach my students that there are no good or bad kids...only good and bad choices. Once you tell a child that he/she is "bad," then that is exactly how the child will act in the future.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 12:02PM
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Thanks for replying. I was hoping to get some more comments.

I got it direct from the counsellor. So what do you do when somebody does something and gets away with it because that class teacher doesn't impose consequences and the person learns that they can get away with it. We ended up going to the principal and after that the teacher started taking things seriously but I was so disappointed that we got no support from the counsellor. I wonder what would happen if a child in a similar circumstance who didn't feel able to tell its parents went to that woman for help?

    Bookmark   March 4, 2007 at 8:59AM
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macbirch - it seems like you have a specific incident in mind. What age group does this counselor work with? Was there something that happened that the child and parents found to be wrong in the classroom? As a middle school classroom teacher, I tend to take a lot of things seriously, but am not always aware of everything that goes on between some of my students . . . unless or until one of my students comes to me. You may not want to give us more specific information, but if you could give even a hypothetical-type situation, it might help in the offering of an opinion.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2007 at 10:41PM
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It was a bullying situation involving eleven year olds. It was the first time I had spoken to a counsellor and I was surprised by the comment. The counsellor seemed to me to be big on theory but not very helpful or caring. Wish I'd asked her to explain in detail what she meant by consequences. At the time all I could think of was the consequences for my child weren't nice and the consequences for the bully were mostly nonexistent, therefore the bullying was continuing. But I didn't want to get upset so I just never bothered speaking to her again. Fortunately the principal helped us. But I still wonder about her from time to time, as I did again the other day when I came across the term "moral compass". How does somebody decide what to do if there is "no right and wrong"? Should somebody in a position of influence over the next generation be saying there is no right and wrong? If her version is that there are consequences, what does that mean? How does that work in a practical sense?

    Bookmark   March 19, 2007 at 5:32AM
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I'm a former teacher - and I would say, There ARE right and wrong choices, AND there are consequences for each.

My daughter had a problem with a bully at school, who was also in the afterschool program, and I had to raise heck, to get someone to do something!!! This bully was focusing on my daughter, but also a problem with other kids. Finally, only after going to the County Superintendent of Schools, and the the County Director of the afterschool programs, would anyone help us.

When bullies have more rights than the kids that are behaving appropriately, there is something wrong with the school system.

I was a teacher for 4 years at a very low income, minority school in L.A. I loved my job, I loved my kids, and their parents were supportive and respectful, and expected their children to behave respectfully for "la maestra". We moved to the Sacramento area, and I got a job teaching 6th grade in a very low income, minority school. Wow. What an education I got in 2 months. Not only were 17 of my 35 kids horribly disrespectful to me and their classmates, there were fistfights, and things were bad, bad, bad. When I got shoved up against a wall trying to break up the first fight, I told the principal I wanted the two boys suspended from my room for the maximum extent possible. She merely took them out for a couple of hours!!!! When I told her I was shocked that she would not discipline them, she said, "well, if I suspend them, the ACLU will come after us." When I called the mother of one of the main troublemakers, when her son was out of control and egging the class on, she accused me of "picking on her boy" because of his ethnicity. I let her know that there were plenty of kids of the same ethnicity in the classroom, behaving appropriately and trying to learn. How sad for the 18 kids who were behaving well in that classroom. I tried to give them all the perks I could. The librarian even asked me NOT to bring the 17 hooligans to the library. So I let the "good" kids go by themselves, and they at least got 1/2 hour a week of peace and quiet and not having to put up with the kids who had no consequences.

The result of that principal's refusal to offer consequences? I'm no longer in the teaching profession. I'm a happy environmental planner, sitting in my cubicle everyday reading scientific journals and applying them to county policy.

My husband is a school bus driver and sees this bad attitude among the wealthier parents of students he drives. Luckily for him, at least he can hand out bus citations, and after so many, the kids get kicked off the bus for the school year, as they should be.

My daughter is now in a private school, where they won't, and don't have to tolerate bullies. I know that not all parents can do that, and that's why, I support the idea of charter and magnet schools, and school vouchers. Let the bullies terrorize each other in public schools, but let the good kids - like my 18 good kids - be able to go to a school where they feel safe, and can learn. In the best of all worlds, the bullies wouldn't be tolerated in public schools either...they should go to alternative schools, where the style of learning is different, and they get anger management classes, life skills classes, etc, in addition to classes for graduation.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 10:15PM
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Thank you so much for your post Monique.

When bullies have more rights than the kids that are behaving appropriately . . . yes, seen too much of that. A couple of years later, at another school, we experienced bullying again. Very inconsistent response by the school. DS was particularly upset when he was told he'd be attending a course at the local youth centre. Some sort of team building self esteem enhancing thing. A number of kids had been identified as potentially benefitting from this, including the bully. DS didn't appreciate being put in the same category as the bully, as he saw it. Also as a keen student he didn't want to be taken out of class for this activity. Another thing that always annoyed me was that no matter how many warnings were given prior to an excursion that anyone who misbehaved wouldn't be allowed to go, it never happened. DS didn't want to go on an overnight trip at the earlier school because the bullies were going. That sort of trip should absolutely have been treated as a privilege for the kids who had worked hard all year and proven that they were worthy of representing their school in public. There were a couple of events where numbers were strictly limited by the organisers and I am grateful to the teachers who included DS in those.

One year there was a boy in DS's class who got away with everything by claiming that the other person started it by making racial taunts. So sad when some people really do suffer because of their ethnicity (as I did when I was at school) but now some people have learned to use it to escape the consequences they deserve.

I like your idea of alternative schools for the kids who cause problems. At the earlier school I mentioned there was a child who was put on the waiting list to spend a term in a special class (co-located at another school) but I don't think he ever got in. Certainly not during the year he was in DS's class. There was such a demand for this class that most kids couldn't get in. I don't know if that class exists any more. We've had a lot of school closures and I don't know what happened to the various specialist programs that were running at the schools that were closed.

I'm so sorry the teaching profession has lost someone like you.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 10:33AM
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"their parents were supportive and respectful, and expected their children to behave respectfully for "la maestra""

And here lies the secret for a well-behaved child in a classroom. When I meet the parents of my students, I am amazed at how many of them act the part and talk the talk. And then I hear how their kids talk to them . . . and they take it! When I hear disrespect directed at and tolerated by a parent, I know there is no way that student will respect authority in school. Why should they? That same parent will be the first to yell (loudly) if their son or daughter is suspended. I am eternally grateful to be a teacher and not an administator at those times. How do you tell a parent that "angel" is really a demon in the school? And yes, not only do the other students suffer, but the entire school can suffer as well. I don't see the benefit of giving up on public schools, however, because of some bad parents and kids. There are many, many more wonderful students in my public classroom than there will ever be bullies or "bad apples." There are some rotten ones, but not all public administrators, counselors, teachers or students are horrible.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 10:35PM
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I don't think it's fair but kids spend five days a week at school and if their parents aren't doing enough to raise them right then there's the obvious opportunity to do something about it. I don't think anywhere near enough resources are devoted to it though. So the teachers have the additional burden of having to compensate for the shortcomings of some parents and they don't always get the support they need from their colleagues and everybody suffers. It really is unfair on the many good teachers who want to share their enthusiasm for a subject with a respectful and receptive class.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 11:05AM
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