Is It Time to Get a New Behavior Punishment

Is It Time to Get a New Behavior Punishment

Kathryn Ball, Author

There is a main threat McAuliffe teachers and staff use. I’m 99.99% sure you’ve heard of it. The one and only refocus. Teachers and other staff use it to punish students who misbehave. But the question is, is it really teaching kids a lesson?

At McAuliffe, we have two forms of refocuses. The more common one is ‘Behavioral Refocus’. During this, you must spend some time cleaning up the courtyard during recess or another form of community service. The other one, the ‘Academic Refocus’, is when you don’t finish your work, so you must come in early for school to complete it. But, again, is the Refocus really doing anything to help?

Let’s start with the pros of Refocus. One reason why McAuliffe uses it is because it gives kids a reason for not doing things. Also, a certain number of Refocuses can result in something worse, so that gives students something to think about. Academic refocuses can help kids get work done, and let parents/guardians know what is going on in class. Behavior refocuses can help (some) kids realize there ARE consequences to each action, good or bad. It also helps keep the courtyard clean.

However, kids every day are given refocuses regarding their behavior. What’s to stop kids from doing it again? Multiple students have brought this issue up. 

Some students who get refocus learn their lesson and don’t want to get in trouble again. Others, however, think it’s funny. We all know that almost every class has at least one of these students. They might get in trouble for attention, not know any better, or do it simply because it’s funny. Incidents like these happen again and again and again. Often, it is the same students. So, why aren’t these students putting a halt to their behavior? Is the refocus not effective enough? Does McAuliffe need to put another punishment in place? 

One solution that I have been considering is that kids who are getting in trouble over and over would have to have to take a class about anger management, problem-solving, etc., and then be watched by a certain staff member (preferably a dean) so the kid knows that it is important to practice the skills that they just learned. Other students have thought that maybe instead of having many cleaners, the kids could clean certain areas that are repeatedly getting dirty.

Many students, and maybe even teachers, ponder this issue.  Should the school abandon the Refocus method completely? Should we leave it as it is? Should we keep the refocus but put another punishment in place? What do you think?