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Here are the responses I received on alternatives for detention.  I have
forwarded all the information to my principal.  Thank you all very much for
your suggestions!  Itıs a big help.

Kerrlita Westrick
Media Specialist
Verrado School
Buckeye, AZ

This is not a quick fix, but we have implemented PBS (positive behavior
support system) in our schools this year (k-8).   I think we were all
skeptical at first, but the change in student behavior is amazing.  I'm a
believer!  We began the process at the end of last school year.  A small
group of staff members attended PBS training during the summer and have
continued training this school year.  They set up the program and trained
the rest of us.  The results have been wonderful.  Our school is a changed

I am in a middle school in Hampton, VA.  Some of the students have to stay
after school and help the custodians clean.  They get the trash, sweep, and
clean blackboards.
We have Saturday detention, too.  They clean on Saturdays, too.  I would
make them read library books or AR books if you have AR.  I wouldn't let
them do homework.  

Detention can be an irritating assignment to the teacher in charge. Who
needs that!? We usually assign those students in our middle school (grades
6--8) to lunch detail during our one lunch shift. Depending on the offense,
the student could pull multiple days. The student would be responsible for
making sure one area of the cafeteria or outside eating area is
spotless.  Our principal or assistant principal does lunch duty daily;
he/she monitors these kids. Most kids do not like the kind of attention
they receive picking up trash in the cafeteria and in and around the
outside eating areas. Occasional, more severe cases would receive in-school

If your school district doesn't consider it corporal punishment, how about
having them do some type of service to the school. In my school, you'll
often find "detainees" cleaning desks, washing windows in the classroom
doors, sweeping the floors, cleaning computers, etc. I don't know that it
deters the behavior but hopefully it helps them realize that they need to be
contributing positively to the community.

Our detention is served during lunch. The cafeteria brings the kids'
lunched to them. They don't like losing their social time. Since most
of the time is taken up eating in silence, there's little time to do
homework. Detention is not served in the library, so food is not an
We also have free dress days for students who have no behavior
referrals. (Our school has a uniform dress code.) Students work for the
privilege to were "real" clothes.

    The 8th grade team I'm on has a new approach.  We have detention the
first 15 minutes of the 30 minute lunch period.  Students do not like
missing any part of lunch because they like to socialize.  We keep a
database online and then teachers remind students in the class
preceding lunch that they have a detention to serve.  We also have some
rewards built in (playtime outside, game period, etc.). Students don't
know when we will have these. If detentions have not been served they
do not participate in the rewards, but serve a forced detention then.
Nothing is perfect, but this is working better than the after school we
used to have.

Of course the detentions don't work-they aren't doing anything to change the
behaviors!  Research and common sense demonstrates this and it's beyond
reason why schools persist in using detention for anything at all.   There
is research on how to change behavior of the kids by changing the classroom,
how teachers teach, and changing expectations, providing support for the
kids, etc., so that there is less need for detention due to a change in the
behaviors causing it.  It's a systemic issue-and NOT just up to the kids.
Here are some places to start the research, but someone needs to take it
seriously and go from there....     overview and several other
sources listed mid-way down the page.

 <> and:  Anne
Wheelock,   Boston College, an expert on the subject-do a search for her
information and research-
        "In-School Suspension: A Learning Tool
While educators agree that keeping suspended students in school is
better than having them home unsupervised, schools need more than a room
and a teacher for in-school suspension to change behavior. Structured
programs that address multiple issues can help students get back to
class faster and stay there. Included: Tips for creating successful
in-school suspension programs.

As schools strive to keep more students in school, even disruptive ones,
in-school suspension programs are seeing more students. But there is a
big difference between having an in-school suspension program and having
an effective one, educators and researchers said.

"The big plus of an in-school suspension program is that students are
still in school, with all the potential for engaging them," said Anne
Wheelock, a research associate with the Progress Through the Education
Pipeline Project at Boston College's Lynch School of Education.
"Suspending students out of school means schools pass up the 'teachable
moment' when they can connect with students, build relationships, and
communicate that they belong in school. ..

The most effective in-school suspension programs have components to
address students' academic and social needs, educators said, since
frequently, suspended students have both academic and behavioral

To be an effective learning tool, in-school suspension programs "should
be one part of a school-wide strategy for creating and sustaining a
positive, nurturing school climate, based on respectful relationships
between teachers and students, teachers and teachers, students and
students," Wheelock said. "Such a strategy would acknowledge that
conflicts of all kinds occur in schools and should be based on a
thoughtful set of approaches to resolving conflict and solving

According to Wheelock, characteristics of good ISS programs include:

Ways to ensure in-school suspension is appropriate; in-school suspension
is unlikely to resolve a truancy or homework completion problem that
should be resolved through other means.
A term limit; students should not be suspended indefinitely.
Problem-solving and/or mediation (including peer mediation) sessions
among teachers and students or students and students, which result in
written contracts that spell out future expectations.
Ensuring students come to the program with academic assignments to
Professionals to staff the program, such as a teacher who can assess
students for unidentified learning difficulties, assist in assignment
completion, and by a counselor who can explore root causes of problems,
refer students to community services, and engage with parents. "

We don't have detention but we do have community service. Student's
inappropriate behaviour is identified. a higher authority in most cases
the grade level coordinator is called in the be the heavy. Serious
discussion takes place. Student puts in writing description of the
behaviour and consequences. If an apology is called for it is put in
writting to either the teacher or fellow student.There may be a phone
call home or the student writes a letter to a parent describing the
incident including an understanding of where they went wrong. Then
amends are made by way of action. Depending on the infraction a student
may be asked to clean all the surfaces in six classrooms. I may be asked
if I will take someone into the library for their service. They may have
to pull holds off the shelves, clean and repair picture books,
straighten shelves, pick up after a class of preschoolers,shelf read,
open my mail, pull books for condition, cover new books, alphabetize and
file catalogs, prep materials for classes.

Have someone sit there and read them Moby Dick or Ulysses or make them
listen to Classical music.

We switched to Saturday morning detentions -- and it has improved behavior
considerably. Many have to miss work to be there.

Our school changed the policy two years ago to "Friday School:"   All
detentions are served on Friday starting at 3:30.  Students are assigned a
number of hours proportional to the 'crime'. They must show up with books,
schoolwork to keep them busy the entire assigned time. If  not, additional
time is added to be served the NEXT Friday school.
The school pays a man (secretaries husband) to monitor the program. They
meet in the elementary counselor's classroom... no computers available. The
student is not in good standing until the detention is served so they may
not attend/participate in any school activities until they have completed
their detention.
Our town is sports-crazed.  A high percentage of kids participate in all well as music, drama, scholastic teams, so missing out makes an
impact on most students.  Of course we have a few bull-headed

Have you tried lunch detentions? When I was at the MS level and had to teach
two classes a day, I gave my kids lunch detention for misbehavior. I had
them come to the library and eat in the back room alone. They hated that. As
you well know, MS kids are very social and hate to miss an opportunity to
hang out with friends.

Switch it to before school.  Maybe getting up early would be a deterent.

Detentions are at the discretion of the teacher giving them- as to what the
student does and also as to supervision.  However, the teacher can also
elect to have the student be under the supervision of one of the
vice-principals ( especially if the detentions are for more  than one day).
Then they are usually assigned to help the maintenance man with cleanup-
sweeping classrooms, emptying trash baskets, vacuuming the mats  and rooms
that have carpeting, dusting doors and windowsills, etc.

If I give detentions, it is usually dusting a certain set of shelving -
taking the books down and dusting each and then the shelf and then replacing
the book correctly - or vacuuming.

In my opinion the best way to deal with detention is to have ISS (in school
suuspension). I think this works well because the kids lose out on
socializing all day with friends. I find that many kids do not want to go
home after school. Our library is open one hour and fiftteen minutes after
school and students would stay longer if I let them.

This is something we have had issues with for many years, or I should say
HAD.  Two years ago detention became a time to sit and do nothing for one
hour, and I mean NOTHING.  The students hate it and since we began that
policy it has improved things a lot.  I can predict all the people who will
point out that this is a horrible waste of time!  But in actuality it is
not, it is a punishment time, not homework time.  Our students must sit with
no talking, no fidgeting, no interaction with one another.  When the
question is asked, "what do they learn?"  (and it will be asked) they learn
that detention is a punishment for breaking rules and that if they don't
want to be punished they shouldn't break rules.
It has worked wonderfully

One school that I worked at the students had to start at the first page of
the dictionary and copy it word for word while they were in detention.  They
had to complete work or they did not receive credit for doing the detention.
They learn new words and they hate doing the work.

We used to have after school detention, but students could not do anything
besides sit up straight and stare at the wall.  We now have lunchtime
detention.  Kids are held in the detention room, in silence, until there are
15 minutes left of lunchtime.  They are then walked to the cafeteria to eat.
Everyone else is already out at recess.  They'd much rather be with their
friends than eating alone and missing recess.

  I sent you a response earlier, but more news today.  We
have been told that because we have a high % of free and
reduced lunches that students cannot have detention for
punitive measures during lunch. They are to have the same
choices and selection of food as the other students.  We
are also required to talk with a parent before the
detention is served; not all our parents speak English.

Welp, I would use the 'detention' as a 'homework center' and let the good
kids go to it, too ...

and perhaps add community service for the involuntary detainees to do.  In
general, their time *is* precious to them.  (I've always been a fan of
supervised community service, because it *is* a pure penalty for the purely
malicious, *especially* since it's helpful, but it also allows the impulsive
child the chance to feel as if s/he did something bad... but is not a bad
*person* and is making valuable contributions to the school community.

Okay, I also appreciated spending that last day of school monitoring the
young rebel who had the task of mashing a big pile of aluminum cans for
recycling, when I *could* have been sitting in that stifling gym doing the
graduation ceremony :-)

Unfortunately I missed the original post re: Detention but have read some of
the responses.  I've been one of our after-school and Saturday detention
monitors for the past 12 years at least.  Our students must be in "silent
study" which means sitting in absolute silence, studying/reading if they
wish. We have no real requirements other than silence.

Detention has been quite beneficial to the library and to me.  I  try to
talk to the students before the session starts, getting to know them.  It
helps my rapport with them during the regular day. Some students spend a lot
of time in DT so I see them regularly. Our library has a wide collection of
popular magazines which are well-read during DT time.  On the 4-hour
Saturday sessions, we sometimes establish work crews for part of the time
and do tasks such as shelving, dusting, bulletin boards, displays, etc.

 Yes, there are occasionally difficult times with difficult students and
it's not always pleasant, but it's usually better than you would think.  I
use the time of silence to accomplish those things i can't get done during
the school day.

I encourage the students to benefit from their "overtime" and try to ensure
that the library benefits too.

Our high school has gone to Saturday school. The kids need to show up bright
and early on Saturday morning and stay to about 11:30. The staff takes turns
staffing the Saturday school. The kids hate it because they miss work time
and sleep in time. The parents are not crazy about driving kids who cannot
drive themselves. 

When I was teaching 7th grade, my teammates and I used a paragraph that a
coworker had written. The students had to copy it 10 times.  It is a very
wordy paragraph that goes like this:
"I must learn to control my behavior in the classroom so that the other
students will not be distracted from learning.  I must realize that the
classroom is for learning and that my misbehavior not only interrupts my
learning; but also prevents other students from getting all they can from
the lesson, as well as disrupting their thought process while doing their
work.  In the future, I will control my behavior to insure that those who
want to learn will have the opportunity to do so without any disruption from
me, and I will not have to write this paragraph again."
Students were also not allowed to move around, talk, etc.

I used to have a "homework club" after school, two times per week (Tue &
Thur for abt 45 minutes). Students that were behind with assignments were
"invited" to stay and get caught up on their work. Parents actually liked
this because their child was getting 'extra' help and students had an
easier time keeping up.

Late assignments earned a note home - (I made forms) that basically said
"Your child ______ did not hand in __________ assignment that was due on
___________. The parent had to sign the form & the child returned it the
following day. If a student didn't return the form the following day - I
telephoned the parent (at work if necessary). The students (grade 5, 6 & 7)
caught on really quick that it was just easier to get the work done.

For misbehavior in class I used 3 strikes & an assignment. The first
warning was writing the student's name on the board (I added the time -
name stayed up for 24 hours), 2nd warning was a check mark beside the name,
3rd strike was made by turning the check mark into an "X." Anyone earning
an "X" had to write an assignment about which rule he/she had violated &
how he/she planned to 'fix' the problem. The assignment was due the
following day, with a parent signature. I was consistent about phoning
parents & the administration supported me.
Our two classroom rules were "everyone has the right to be treated with
respect & dignity" & "no student has the right to interfere with another
student's right to learn." Only assigned 3 essays in the first couple of
months of school.

The general school rule was & is students that misbehaved were required to
work 'away' from the class. Escalating behavior earns an "in school
suspension" (work under the direction of an administrator - close to or in
the office). Continued misbehavior leads to an "out of school suspension" &
meeting with parents (& admin) class work still has to be completed.
These students also do not go out at recess or lunch, instead they spend
that time sitting in the hall outside the office (not fun).

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