Leadership is the art of making “reasonable exceptions to reasonable rules”, according to Lee Iacocca. Sometimes though, the water gets muddied. There may be times where you have pressure from colleagues to “hold the line”. Other times, you feel there are mitigating circumstances, and believe that a student deserves a slightly less harsh consequence than that outlined in the handbook. Yet other times, despite the contrite look on students’ faces, it is easy to keep your resolve, because, for example, no form of physical violence can be tolerated under any circumstances, even if it is clear that students have learned their lessons.
For discipline, the need to remain consistent is a given, but the litmus test for any consequence is whether that student has learned their lesson. This is evidenced through the student’s subsequent behavior as well as information gleaned in discussions shortly after the incident. Another anecdotal evaluation of a discipline action is whether the student thanks you at the end of the process. Believe it or not, this does happen!