Time: Final day of school before the start of winter break.
Place: 3d period Spanish class
You walk into the room, a tad tired but still eager for the end of the day. So far, you haven’t done much in your other classes, given the special occasion. Now, your Spanish class is very… different than other classes. You have a bit more physical work and little to no paper and book work. You grab the materials from the table in the center, but something is… off. Among the typical scissors and glue lies a packet. A… large packet. 10 pages, bound together by a lone staple. Fearfully, you lift the top page up and… WORK! Lines upon lines of busywork, the junk food of the education system! You’re overcome with confusion. Why? Why would your teacher do this? A bit later, the teacher explains the motive behind her nefarious plot: A few students didn’t do their homework. You… you did your homework. You put in the time, you put in the effort to learn this language yet YOU get punished!
That… was me. Just last year, at the tail-end of 2020, I was hit with a truckload of work because of what someone else did. At the start of Christmas break, no less!
That, my friends… is what class punishments feel like. Class punishments are a common way of punishing students for their wrongdoings, and it is one of the stupidest methods of vengeance one can enact!
For starters: Punishing the many for the actions of the few is downright unfair! Those who go above and beyond, those who have done no wrong should not be put down and shamed for something they had no involvement in! I cannot count the times my teachers wrongly dealt their ‘justice’ to me for something I didn’t do. It. Is. Unfair!
“But life isn’t fair!” I hear you cry, employing the golden counterargument to injustice (Yeah this is an appositive). And… I believe that argument is fundamentally flawed. Yeah, life isn’t fair. No duh! But that does not give YOU the excuse to make it more unfair! By saying ‘life isn’t fair’ and then proceeding to punish a group of people for something only a portion of them did, then you are part of the problem. Please, don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution!
And here, I’ll help! I have cooked up many ways to carry out retribution without falling into the trap of class punishments. Instead of taking the easy way out, why not…
- Punish the individual, not the whole. Ways to do this vary depending on the severity of the crime. If they were just rude, you could take away their phone!
If it’s something like failing to turn in an assignment, make them call their parents! Heck, put it on speaker if it was REALLY bad!
- It has been proven time and time again that positive reinforcement works better then negative reinforcement. Instead of class punishments, try class rewards! It can be as simple as giving students who are really good prizes, but not to those who don’t behave so well. According to the article (“Why We Need To Give More Positive Feedback”): "In fact, it (positive feedback) can be extremely powerful. It helps people feel confident, which helps them to do a better hob. It makes them feel appreciated, which in turn makes them more motivated and engaged. It shows them that they are supported, and this leads to better working relationships and greater attention. Finally, it’s a lot easier for people to accept criticism when things they do go wrong if they are also used to hearing positive things." Some other good ways to give positive feedback (Courtesy of the article “The Importance of Positive Feedback and Giving it To Others”)
"1.Whenever possible, link positive behavior to business results.
2. Deliver the feedback as close in time to the event as possible.
3. Deliver positive feedback in front of others, when possible and when appropriate, if you think they can also benefit from it.
4. Be specific and as detailed as possible to help the recipient implement the positive feedback in future situations.
5. Avoid giving positive feedback too often or for trivial reasons to maintain it’s meaning.
6. Avoid delivering positive feedback in a condescending manner or tone and use tact when giving positive feedback to superiors."
And there you have it folks. You might think that you’re doing the right thing, that you’re a savior to parents for teaching your class in such a cough cough roundabout cough cough way… but you couldn’t be further from the truth. Class punishments may seem harmless and effective, but in reality they are the easy way out that both leaves students with a negative opinion of you and are often left worse off! Instead, try class rewards and POSITIVE reinforcement… you’d be surprised how much more effective it truly is.
“The Importance of Positive Feedback and How To Deliver It to Others.” Indeed Career Guide, www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/importance-of-positive-feedback.
Marsh, Emily. “Why We Need to Give More Positive Feedback.” T, www.t-three.com/soak/insights/why-we-need-to-give-more-positive-feedback.