It finally happened! The opportunity we’ve spent the last eight months preparing for! Today, July 17th at 8:30 this morning, I met with Mr. Lex Carswell, the Columbia County School District Superintendent, to hand deliver our Leading2Greater presentation and to speak with him about the potential of allowing us to come into the Fort White Middle and High School to inspire our students for greatness.
While I believe our meeting went well, I know that it could have gone better had I been able to better articulate my thoughts. I went in this morning prepared with a speech that was timed to 4 minutes and 53 seconds, to stay within my requested “5-minute” timeframe, but it all completely left my brain the moment I sat down with Mr. Carswell, Mr. Widergren (assistant superintendent) and Mr. Couey (Fort White High School principal).
For the most part, we were all in agreeance throughout our conversation but I could have explained my view points on several of their concerns in a clearer, more detailed manner. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would most definitely better state that I absolutely support appropriate consequences for disobedience regardless of the method used and would have defined the words “punishment” and “discipline” as I don’t use them interchangeably. I left our meeting feeling like a lot of my points were misconstrued because of this.
I SHOULD HAVE DONE BETTER
Mr. Carswell found the second paragraph on page 1 (shown below) “concerning” and defended group punishment by stating that “many times [school faculty and staff] can’t pinpoint who the culprit is”, making the use of group punishment seem acceptable.
I however, respectfully disagree with Mr. Carswell and wholeheartedly believe that it is never okay to punish knowing innocent students, no matter how noble the aim. Furthermore, I find the permanent assigned seating (by class) consequence to be absurdity for the rule breakers, not to mention for those that never broke the rules in the first place. This is not because I don’t believe the rule breakers shouldn’t have consequences for their actions but because I see this particular consequence as an imposed sentence meant to control students through fear. This message can be interpreted that it’s not the behavior that is inappropriate, but rather the need to not get caught. As a result, students learn to be careful when and how they behave when you are looking to put the responsibility on the authority figure rather than the student. I don't believe that inflicting a permanent consequence such as this, to be effective in helping students learn self-control or making better behavior choices and feel that the rule breakers were deprived of their opportunity to learn and right their wrong.
MORE OF OUR THOUGHTS ON GROUP PUNISHMENT CAN BE FOUND ON PAGES 24 AND 25 OF OUR PRESENTATION.
WORTH THE MENTION
As I said earlier, we agreed on most everything throughout the meeting but for your information, here's a rundown of where we both stand:
Overall, I believe the meeting went well. The superintendent told me our presentation would be discussed in more detail and I should expect a call from him personally in the coming days as to what was decided.
We are so overly grateful for the support of our community that made our meeting possible and also to Mr. Carswell himself for agreeing to take our plan into serious consideration. We can not thank you all enough!