The Last Time I Used The Paddle

The principal's policy was that because of liability issues he, not teachers, should give swats. Although he didn't like it, a teacher could give swats if they brought the student to his office and gave them while he witnessed. It was widely known that students laughed about the principal's weak swats.

One day during a biology class lecture, the 200 pound star sophomore running back was trying to carry on a conversation with someone half-way across the room. When I told him to be quiet and listen, he told me where I could go. I opened the classroom door and motioned for him to follow me. When we got to the office and I told the story, the principal said he would handle it. I told him that this young man was going to get one swat, from me.

When I picked up the paddle, the student took his wallet out of his pocket, placed his hands on the principal's desk, and, while keeping his legs straight, leaned over. I told him to stand up, turn to face the wall, and grab his ankles. He looked at the principal. When the principal just shrugged, he did as he was told.

He was 200 pounds of pure muscle. He didn't even flinch when I hit him as hard as I could − but the paddle cracked down the middle. He didn't even have a tear in his eye. When we walked back into the classroom together, his buddies started asking him what happened. He look in my direction and I gave a slight shake of my head. To his credit, he sat down, opened his book, and didn't say a word. I picked up the lecture where it was interrupted − in a very quiet classroom.

At a ball game a few weeks later, his parents laughingly told me how they learned about "The Swat", as they called it. At the supper table that night, the student looked at his brother, who was in junior high, and said, "You better pay attention in science class when you get to high school". To everyone's questioning looks, he told what had happened. Through the years, I became good friends with this whole family.

More than the spread of the story about "The Swat" or the changes in society through the years, my teaching philosophy has made the use of a paddle unnecessary. As much as the world changes, as much as students and their home-life change, students almost always respond to someone who honestly cares about them and their success. In my thirty years in the classroom, I can truthfully say that I have only encountered one student that would not cooperate with me at all.

Today, many people talk about being "fair". As I sometimes say to my students, "Life Isn't Fair". Successful teachers are those that have a teaching philosophy founded on sound educational principles and are CONSISTENT in their support of students − ALL students. From the school board president's daughter to the boy everyone knows is selling drugs − students must see classroom teachers treating all students the same − AT ALL TIMES.

Decades ago, teachers could demand cooperation and use corporal punishment to get it. But even in those days, it took more than the paddle for students to "respect" a teacher.

Respect is defined as "esteem for, or acknowledging the worth or excellence of a person". Earning respect from students takes longer than demanding cooperation with corporal punishment. But once earned, respect is much more valuable than cooperation.

Students will respect teachers who:

  • are honest with them.
  • have something of value to say
  • act like teachers!
    • Teachers always show students a positive attitude.
        − Teachers can never have a "bad day".
    • Teachers are not friends with their students.
        − Students have plenty of those.
        − Students need responsible adult role models.
    • Teachers have few rules, but they firmly and consistently enforce those they have.
    • Teachers show students there are consequences for their actions.
    • Teachers never ask a student to do something unless they are ready to see the student does it.
        − As bad as ignoring an inappropriate behavior is, that is better than addressing the behavior and then letting it continue.
    • Teachers never allow students to argue with them.
        − Responding to a student's argument can easily produce a confrontation. Once it becomes a confrontation, the teacher becomes the loser.
    • Teachers are forgiving.
        − Once a student has paid the consequences, that incident is forgotten. Students need to know they have a chance for a new beginning − every time they walk into the classroom.
    • When teachers must reprimand, they reprimand behaviors, not students.
    • Teachers consistently guide students toward becoming adults who contribute to society.