Would you ever or have you ever assigned a student to write their name 50 times as punishment for not writing their name on an assignment?
That’s the question that was posed on my Facebook wall this week. Dozens of teachers responded with a huge range of answers:
The discussion was fascinating (I highly recommend you read the whole thing here, because everyone had an important perspective to add and there are some GREAT ideas for handling the issue.) When all was said and done, the vast majority of teachers concluded that having a child write his or her name (or sentences like “I will remember to write my name”) was NOT beneficial for kids.
My verdict? It’s very rare that I make a blanket statement that a particular action should never be taken with any student, ever. Teachers have to know their students as individuals and every situation is different.
What I will say is this: in eleven years of teaching, I never met a student that required this punishment. In fact, I never encountered a situation in which my students needed a punishment at all for forgetting to write their names on their papers. Oh sure, I got no name papers ALL. THE. TIME. But I viewed the problem as a procedural issue, and when kids don’t follow our routines and procedures, they need practice, not punishment. They need more modeling, reinforcement, and feedback until labeling their assignments is second nature. (To learn how I support kids with this, read my tips on teaching kids to write their names/headings on assignments.)
Most kids get it after a few days of me teaching them; some take a few weeks. Some forget intermittently all the way through June. And that’s okay. Frustrating for the teacher, of course, but okay. A big part of our jobs, especially in the elementary grades, is to teach children to be responsible and accountable for their work. We’re less likely to punish them out of aggravation if we keep this perspective in mind.
What’s your take–is it ever appropriate to have students write sentences for punishment? What do you do when kids forget to put their names or the correct heading on their papers?