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What to do in departmental detention

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by chuck21189, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. Hello,

    I was just wondering what other people did with the detainees in after school department detention. We have 30 minutes with them in which they either complete any (home)work they may have missed or copy out the department behaviour policy until their time is up.

    After some new ideas... I'm after something that will put off the repeat offenders!
  2. mature_maths_trainee

    mature_maths_trainee New commenter

    IMO, even some experienced teachers get this 'wrong'.
    A detention should be a punishment, and yet some teachers spend the time chatting to their detainees in order to 'get to know them better' and presumably form a better relationship. Sure, a small part of the time can / should be used for re-building etc., but overwhelmingly it must surely have a severe deterent effect.
    'Unfortunately', different students are deterred by different things. Some even (sub-conciously, I'm sure) 'like' detentions if it means they are getting adult attention or conversation. So merely 'taking there time' is rarely an adequate punishment.
    Many students hate stitting in silence, and if there's a small enough group of detainees that is a major element. Seat them as far away from you as possible (itself a signal), and get on with whatever you need to (esp. drinking coffee, and things that are overtly pleasureable!).
    Do not get them to tidy up, or sharpen pencils, or anything. There's too many of them that (sub-conciously again) 'like' being engaged like that.
    Sitting in silence, doing something that's calm and mundane is by far the best IMO. I just allow them to read their book. Many don't carry one, depsite the school policy, so that's there look out too. I don't lend them anything to read, and I certainly don't allow them to do homework (mine, or anyone elses) in detention time - it's *my* time, not time for them to do whatever they wish.

    Many students hate this, but that just means that you can *shorten* the period for which they are held. It also means that it's effective.
    [Of course, if you have students who mishave but are avid book readers, then this may be an inadequate punishment but, oddly, this doesn't seem a common occurrence].

    One other thing. Whilst a 30 min policy may be fine, I think it's much better to show some judgement on the time. If they arrive very promptly for the detention, allow them off 5, or 15, or whatever minutes early. If they truly are silent, let them off earlier too. If they make a fuss, or talk, or argue with you more, make them stay longer than the others. Even 2 minutes longer. They hate it if they can see you punishing each of them so 'fairly', which is often not possible with detentions (usually) being so 'black and white' (you either have one or you don't).

    I've made and seen loads of mistakes with detentions, but this is the policy that I am finding to be by far the most effective (in terms of changing student behaviour - which is the goal, and in terms of minimising effort for me).

  3. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    The point of a detention is that it is a sanction; a punishment, designed to deter students from further misbehaviour. That's its primary role. It can have other purposes, for example getting inside the heads of your kids, discussing their behaviour etc, but the problem with that is that they diminish the most useful function, which is deterrence. Ironically, if applied fairly and with gravity, I find that detentions, properly done, actually do more for building meaningful relationships with your pupils than any number of heart to hearts, because they encourage children to respect your boundaries, and by default you.
    So when you have them in detention, there's no need to be cryptic, ironic, or devious. You don't need to devise interesting and thoughtful activities designed to extend and deepen their learning cradles or whatever. Just make it uncomfortable. Make it something to which they have no wish to return. The goal of my detentions is to make themselves redundant, which is why they are meaningfully tight.
    So: lines; copying out; letters of apology. Desperately unfashionable, deeply effective, when applied consistently and without fuss or favour. You don't need new ideas; you need to soak, wash, rinse, dry, repeat. And repeat. And. And if they keep coming back, your response needs to become faster, harder, better, stronger. In other words escalate, and emphasise the folly of breaking rules that are so clearly designed for their well being.
    Good luck
    <em style="color:#1f1f1f;line-height:16px;font-family:Arial,sans-serif;font-size:13px;background-color:#e5f4fb;">Read more from Tom here on his blog, or follow him. His latest book,Teacher, is out now, published by Continuum/ Bloomsbury[/i]
  4. Thanks for all the ideas. Copying out the dept behaviour policy is my favourite and keeps kids quiet the most. It just doesn't seem to be deterring the department-wide repeat offenders...

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