Escalation: How to Involve the Office
Your discipline in the classroom interventions plan must be a team effort, so keep the team informed. “Involving the office” most often means direct action by the principal or the assistant principal. However, the administration should also be made aware of counselor or other human resource involvement in which they didn’t have direct involvement.
When I use the word “escalation,” I am broadly referring to the involvement of any other adults in the classroom behavior management of a student – parents, principal, assistant principal, counselor.
Ideally, the office is your partner in your classroom interventions. Remember that: partner. Not a dumping zone for issues that you should be addressing through classroom behavior management.
When you are new to a school (or your principal is new), start by touching base to understand his philosophy regarding this topic. Also, as pointed out on other pages, if your building has a formal discipline escalation plan, you MUST know it and follow it.
It doesn’t hurt to ask experienced teachers in the building what the process is, or what the line is for making a referral for discipline in the classroom – just be sure to verify anything you hear with the office to be certain.
Impact on office staff
As you can see in my About Me page, I spent a couple years as an elementary school office assistant before obtaining my teaching degree, so I know first-hand the kind of impact that discipline has on the education support staff. Kids who are sitting in the office, waiting to see the principal or waiting for their parents to show up cannot just be ignored, especially if they are causing a ruckus.
I’m not advising that you should hold off on involving the administration just for the sake of the office staff; rather, I’m advising that you need to keep them in mind, and if you can lessen the impact on them, then you should make every effort to do so.
There may be situations where you must send a student to the office unescorted. Be sure to call ahead to let them know he is on his way…more than one student has bypassed the office and simply headed home after classroom interventions.
Playing your cards right
When it comes to a long-term classroom discipline plan, consider the office to hold the position of the ace in the hand that you can play; don’t throw it down immediately, but don’t bluff too much with it either.
When you play the “go to the office” card, students need to know that there has been a serious escalation that will have significant consequences for them personally. Anything less will undermine your classroom behavior goals.