At the end of my before school reading remediation session one of the children who came late mentioned that she saw one of the no-shows headed to the library instead of coming up to our room. I was tired and grouchy, coming off of my no-good-very-bad-day from the day before so I decided to go all Viola-Swamp on him.
I stormed off to the library to find him and remind him that he is suppose to see ME on these mornings, not skip off happily to the library.
I found him in line waiting to check out books (it's not as if he was hiding in the bathroom- he was getting reading material) and I started my lecture. In front of everyone. He made attempts to save face- trying to tell me things about his mom not taking him and how he came late so he didn't think he had time to make it upstairs and I just kept interrupting him. "No- it's your job to get here early!" I demanded. "This is important".
Sadly it IS his job to get here early and do you think he's going to come today after I shamed him in the library in front of everyone? And if he does come, do you think he's going to try? Do you think he'll get anything out of reading club today other than merely being there? How much does he care that improving his reading SOL scores is going to be essential for the school making ayp? Why is coming important to him?
I know better. There was no need to talk to him like that in the library. Other than it was me, upset, frustrated, and not wanting to look like he could get away skipping.
Which of course, he shouldn't get away with skipping. But sometimes we have to look at our ultimate goal. In this case my ultimate goal is for him to come every time, work really hard, and improve his reading skills. Shaming him in front of other students and teachers is NOT the way to accomplish that.
I could have waited until he checked out his books and then taken him aside away from everyone to talk about his important it is that he comes.
I could have done the whole "We REALLY missed you. Man, you missed a lot of fun today!" routine in front of everyone to make him actually regret missing- not regret it because he's in trouble.
Away from others I could have very seriously asked him about his responsibility to come in the morning, listened carefully to his "this is what happened" story, and then explained, very matter of factly, that even on days when things go wrong he still has responsibilities.
All of those would have accomplished him 1) knowing he can't skip reading club 2) wanting to come back the next day
Instead I don't even think I delivered message number 1. I just showed him that when you make teachers angry they will embarrass you in front of your friends and other teachers. And, what I believe he's about to show me is that when you embarrass students in front of others it doesn't motivate them to perform for you the next day.
Fingers crossed that I'm wrong- what happened didn't bother him at all (although his shocked, hurt face said otherwise) and that he'll come excited to read this morning.