When A Child is Marooned to the Desk in the Hallway

From a purely layman’s observant research, I think the months of October and February are the most difficult for kids who struggle with attention skills, social skills, and rigors of classroom expectation.

By six weeks in school, classrooms have settled into routines, teachers are aware of each child’s personality, strength and challenges.  AND, visitors begin to see the single desk in the hallway, just outside the classroom door, but far enough down the hallway that the child, sitting at the desk, can’t see into the classroom.

A hallway in a New Jersey Catholic high school

When I see that lonely desk in the hallway, my heart aches for its occupant.  Usually a boy, but not always.  Usually chewing on his pencil, staring down the hallway, or, finding solace in playing with his smuggled in small detractors, such as a bottle cap, marble, eraser, or the ultimate, a box car.

I have been privileged to watch superior teachers working with energized, “I can get away with this” kids with never seeing the child ostracized to the hallway.  Getting a child to behave in accordance with classroom expectations, while maintaining a teaching structure is delightful to watch.

Back to Johnnie in the chair in the hallway.  As you can tell, I don’t advocate that we place individual students, who are struggling with classroom expectations, in the hallway.  This procedure is supposed to give the student a “time-out” to get his “act together.”  More often than not, it does not provide the student with the tools he needs to be more successful inside the classroom.  The kids I have worked with, who manned the desk in the hall, really did want to find a way to earn approval and positive recognition from both teacher and peers.

I believe in using volunteers in schools.  A trained volunteer can help Johnnie re-direct his energy to appropriate outlets, while learning to follow classroom expectations.  To help with success, each expectation has to be broken down into steps, so that it isn’t overwhelming and so that Johnnie can learn which exact step causes him to be sent to the hallway.  As soon as these steps are in place, with Johnny understanding their importance to him–Johnnie has a much better percentage of staying in the classroom, earning positive recognition and growing developmentally to be able to be successful in future years.

For an example of these kinds of “steps” please see (in no particular order):

That child that has been marooned in the hallway doesn’t want the distinction or label of being a “hall kid.”  Help him, or her, to get back into the classroom, earning the right to feel good about his or her achievement/s.

Be gentle with our children–whoever they may be.

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2 Responses to When A Child is Marooned to the Desk in the Hallway

  1. I’ve never heard of this method that you are referring to. It strikes me as odd. I can say there are times where I feel that students could use something like a timeout. However, it should be a limited time and not simply park them out of the room.
    To have volunteers who could help in such situations would be great!

    • dearfriends says:

      I find it somewhat a happy situation that you’ve never encountered children sitting forlornly out in the hall. This brings me hope that children who struggle with “marching to their own drummers” may have interventions that work with their strengths rather than chastised for their challenges. And yes, especially in smaller, rural schools, volunteers are most welcome to assist teachers and children. Thank you for your comments. Barb

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