I once told a principal that our in-school detention room was an inefficient method of school discipline. When he asked me what I would do to improve it, I told him to remove all of the chairs and force the offending students to stand and stare at the wall.
That was one of the saddest moments of my more than two decades as a classroom teacher, and I’m bothered even now–15 years later–by that conversation and my stance on school discipline.
If I could go back in time, I’d relish the opportunity to tell the principal how to improve in-school detention. I’d beg him to do what Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Baltimore is doing. “Turn the detention room into a Mindful Moment Room,” I’d say. “Give kids a safe, comfortable place where they can decompress. Ask them how we can help.”
School discipline practices are outdated and ineffective. Detention and other punishments do not alter unwanted behaviors. The standard practice in most schools is to punish students for breaking rules by putting them in “time out” or removing privileges.
The problem with this tactic is it rarely helps kids understand their behavior and, in most cases, the punishment only makes students angry and resentful.
Create a Mindful Moment Room. With the help of the Baltimore-based Holistic Life Foundation, Robert W. Coleman converted their failing detention room into a Mindful Moment Room–a place for students to reflect on poor choices while learning to meditate and decompress.
The room looks nothing like your standard windowless detention room. Instead, it’s filled with lamps, decorations, and plush purple pillows. Misbehaving kids are encouraged to sit in the room and go through practices like breathing or meditation, helping them calm down and re-center. They are also asked to talk through what happened. —Upworthy
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