Classroom Activities for an In-School Suspension

In-school suspension should help students think about their behavior, not cause boredom.
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In-school suspension programs are implemented as a means of holding students accountable for disruptive behavior without removing them from the campus. It is an alternative to traditional suspension, which can turn into a vacation for students who are sent home for days at a time. Effective in-school suspension activities help students uncover the challenges they are facing in the classroom and develop strategies for better behavior.

1 Written Reflection

Answering a written prompt, students can reflect on their disruptive conduct during in-school suspension. For younger students, this could be as simple as a worksheet with a list of yes or no questions. Older students should be required to write an essay that includes possible solutions to use in the future. For this activity to be effective, the program's supervisors should read each paper to make sure it has been taken seriously.

2 Individual Counseling

Sometimes there are underlying issues contributing to a student's problem behavior. In this instance, it helps to have individual counseling activities during in-school suspension, such as one-on-one conversations or guided individual workbook assignments that reflect on misbehavior. However, it's important for the counselor to understand that in-school suspension is a disciplinary measure. Counseling sessions should be effective but not so enjoyable that students keep finding their way back into suspension.

3 Group Discussion

Group discussions are an in-school suspension activity that can help students learn better social skills. For example, disruptive students might have gotten into trouble for outbursts during class or speaking disrespectfully to an administrator, and the group discussion is a forum for students to share more appropriate responses. Sometimes students need to see what their misbehavior looks like from another person to become critical of it. Where there are attention-needy students, however, the group discussion might not be as effective because it could become a stage for such students to act out and try to get a response from peers.

4 Busy Work

Busy work means tedious, last-minute assignments from a teacher that are meant to keep the student occupied, but are not necessarily part of the curriculum. Examples of this work are copying definitions from a dictionary or writing the same line down hundreds of times. While this is less likely to encourage a student to think critically about misbehavior, it can provide a break for students who simply need time to cool off. Busy work should be implemented as part of in-school suspension infrequently, however, because students may find it preferable to more challenging classwork.

Since 2006, Pilar Ethridge has had the pleasure of honing her writing skills as the assistant editor of the newsletter from a Washington, D.C. nonprofit organization. Her interests include children's media, film, American pop culture, crafts, and performing arts in general. Based in Southern California, Ethridge received a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal studies from the University of California.