Discipline Should Teach Students 'A Better Way'

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), September 7, 2015 | Go to article overview

Discipline Should Teach Students 'A Better Way'


Congratulations to the Pittsburgh Public Schools for exploring an alternative to the traditional model used to address student behavior ("Another Tack to Student Behavior: 22 Pittsburgh Schools to Use Discipline Aimed More at Understanding Than Punishment," Aug. 31).

As a former principal, I observed and worked with some highly effective, quality teachers who accepted the challenge, overcame obstacles and taught students "a better way." However, these "pockets of effectiveness" were not systemic.

These teachers used core principles (honesty, justice, tolerance, compassion, respect, hope, etc.) to direct their behavior and fashion their work. Their core principles were explicit; the classroom was built upon this framework. Their purpose for teaching placed healthy relationships as the cornerstone of the classroom. They were willing to share responsibility with students.

Core principles provided a pathway to developing agreements with students that encouraged and supported personal responsibility.

Effective teachers are active listeners and maintain a classroom that is engaging and cooperative. Effective teachers show interest, empathy and patience with children. They listen intently and ask questions to clarify concerns. Students know they are cared for.

Please follow the implementation of this program in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. The promise of systemic change in the social structure of schools has a tremendous upside. As our society experiences repeated acts of violence in fractured communities, we hope for "a better way." This is an opportunity for schools to break barriers and create communities that resolve conflict, accept differences and truly educate children.

JERRY MINSINGER

Westwood

The writer, a retired Pittsburgh Public Schools principal, is an adjunct professor and student teacher supervisor, Duquesne University School of Education.

Unnecessary indignity

Thank you for printing the thoughtful column "Affirming a Right to Die" (Aug. 31) by George F. Will. As my wife and I sat in a private room on a couch at A-Vets in Monroeville with our kitty between us on a recent Friday, my wife commented, "Wouldn't it be great if we could treat humans as humanely as we do our pets?"

Our sweet kitty had an inoperable tumor. She hadn't eaten or used her litter box for three days and only had vacant stares to offer where loving eyes had existed before. We were able to spend her dying moments with her showing her love with behind-the-ear scratches and belly rubs while she gradually drifted off to a painless life-ending sleep thanks to an injection administered by the veterinarian. …

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