STORY AND PHOTO BY MICHAEL WOOD
Ever wonder why there’s no ISS and why it’s been replaced by this new referral punishment called "Focus Room". It’s because our school administration decided that students should still be allowed in class and given ‘another chance’. The goal for this was to maximize student’s time in class during a day. The focus room is the next step on the behavior ladder after detention for students who refuse to follow directions or that don’t have the ideal connection with teachers.
I recently took a tour of the focus room and actually had my own experience as to what it's like in there. The focus room is a place of reflection and come to find out... you get 3 chances to go but I think there’s a daily limit to going.
Students are sent to the focus room for various reasons—from disruptive behavior to misunderstandings in class or other school settings. One person interviewed was sent to the focus room because of a public space violation; trying to participate in a physical altercation. When he got to the focus room he was still angry at both the situation and for being the only person in trouble. His motives after being in the focus room didn't seem to change.
I wanted to get a teacher’s perspective on the focus room. Ms. Smith was unavailable so I interviewed Ms. Warren. The focus room usually has on average 3-5 students daily. Once inside, students are expected to complete a reflection worksheet about their actions and what could’ve been done to handle the situation better. Sometimes everything goes good and sometimes students decide that they don't want to behave. Familiar faces are often seen once or twice a week and usually for the same reason.
Ultimately, I believe that this is a better punishment for referrals than the idea of ISS. It allows a student to have not only a second…but a third chance to do right again. And students can go back to class and make up work instead of having to miss out on a whole day of school in the multi-purpose room.
Michael Wood is a junior at Friendship Tech Prep Academy.