What do you do if you're an elementary school teacher, and a student will not stop disrupting your class?
The days when such a student could face a paddling or a dunce cap are long gone.
But one substitute teacher in Lafayette, LA used an approach that got her in trouble with the parent of a disruptive student, and got her chewed out by school administrators: she put duct tape over the student's mouth. According to the student's mom, he was so upset over the incident that he didn't discuss it for a week, and doesn't want to return to school. And now the mom is seeking criminal battery charges.
As a former student who had, um, issues with voicing opinions in class even when the teacher was not seeking opinions, I can sympathize with the kid. It's not always easy to contain yourself in the midst of a hyper-stimulating environment, especially when you're just learning those skills. And it's very embarrassing to have the teacher tape your mouth shut. I would have wanted to crawl into a hole.
As the father of five, however, I'm not sure I disagree with the teacher's approach. If the boy is not being respectful, if he's not shutting up when he's told repeatedly to do so, if he's taking learning time away from the class, then what? Send him to the principal's office? Put him in a corner?
As the spouse of a teacher, I hear a lot of stories about kids who don't always behave appropriately, and how little teachers can do these days to prevent such behavior. Many parents these days do seem to hold the teacher, rather than the student, responsible for the behaviors (and grades) of their offspring.
Perhaps duct taping his mouth is not the most elegant of solutions. It did no physical damage, at least none that was reported. It certainly caused him some serious social discomfort - whether that is ultimately a good thing is, I suppose, the question here.
Personally, I think the teacher acted a little harshly. Fourth grade kids are sensitive creatures, and they're learning what is ok and what is not. Maybe stand the kid up in front of the class and make him sing the National Anthem. Or recite a poem. Or have him get up and try to teach. But I can also sympathize with the teacher, who was having her job highjacked by an uncooperative kid who wanted to steal the attention of her class. I have certainly been tempted to duct tape my kids' mouths at one point or another.
Do you think the teacher did the right thing? Tell us in the comments.