Concerned about violence and other problems in their schools, students across Philadelphia are taking matters into their own hands.
From fourth graders at Lingelbach Elementary to high school seniors at Bartram and Kensington, students have been taking steps to improve their schools' climates and reduce the tension that leads to aggressive behavior - before it becomes a problem.
During my first year of teaching, I tried everything to get my students to behave. Behavior charts, individual plans. Class incentives. Class consequences. Tricks, incentives, threats. Rewards, punishments. Strict attitude, friendly attitude. Yelling, reasoning, sweet-talking, pleading for sympathy.
One day, I wrote the word "celebration" on the board and promised the class they could have a party if they behaved for the whole day. I crossed each letter off one by one. By noon we all knew they'd never make it.
In short, I was desperate.
New teachers coming into Philadelphia schools may not be receiving the preparation and professional development they need to handle classroom discipline issues, conversations with these teachers reveal.
Inadequate training in classroom management in teacher education and certification programs and in the School District's own teacher induction program limits these teachers' ability to implement fairly the School District's new "zero tolerance" discipline policy.