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Teacher Defends Her Decision to Invite all Grade 1 Students Except One to a Barbeque

First, let’s preface this story by saying what a wonderful job so many of our teacher’s do. However, they don’t always get it right, and some others can even have quite a negative effect on a child’s self-confidence and schooling experience. As we know, not all children are the same, and some children need extra help and support, or learn in a different way to their peers. Whilst it is important to maintain order in the classroom, in reality, it is not always possible or practical to treat every child exactly the same way. This was highlighted when a grade 1 teacher recently took to the popular Reddit community AmItheAsshole, to ask if her decision to leave one student out of a trip to a local park for a barbeque makes her an arsehole.

I (30f) am a teacher. I have a class with 24 students. I teach 1st grade.

I told my students that we could have a barbecue at a park (with hotdogs and hamburgers and snacks) for whoever filled their “good noodle” sticker charts. This has been approved by the principal and I teach at a private school.

We have daily sticker charts to track their behavior in school. They had to have perfect behavior all of April in order to participate.

I have one student who has some behavioral issues. They did not earn all of their good noodle stickers this month. Since this student – we’ll call Bobby – didn’t earn the barbecue I had let his mother know just in case he mentioned it. Bobby would join another class for the day and do work inside while his classmates were at the barbecue.

She has been sending emails complaining to myself and the principal all week about how her child should also be able to participate and it is unfair. She thinks we should make an exception since he has behavioral issues and feels we could be targeting him. I think I’m being fair because he did not earn all of his good noodle stickers.


Firstly, we have to wonder whether it is reasonable to expect a 6/7 year old to have perfect behaviour, and whether the other 23 students really did have such an unblemished record. Many adults I know would struggle with this kind of expectation – everyone has a bad day every once in a while! Secondly, whilst she mentions that Bobby has ‘behavioural problems’ (which can suggest he’s simply badly behaved,) in an update we learn that he actually has a IEP (Individual education plan). IEP’s are for children with neurological disorders, learning disorders or any disability or disorder that significantly impacts their learning. This certainly puts a very different slant on the situation and her decision to exclude Bobby from the event.

Commenters were quick to point out how this kind of exclusion could negatively effect Bobby. User Sarnsquantch nailed the response, and received 31.3k upvotes for their comment.

As a former educator myself, I hate these kinds of public exclusionary rewards, ESPECIALLY for very young kids. These are 1st graders. From what you’ve posted, it sounds like this was the only student excluded. There is literally no way that is going to encourage better behavior from this young child in the future.

Kids, especially young ones, often act out in reaction to emotional stimuli they don’t have the appropriate tools to process yet. 99% of the time, a kid of 1st grade age who is acting out has trouble somewhere – stress/problems at home, getting bullied, who knows. For the same reason it’s unfair to punish young kids for tardiness or attendance issues, it’s unfair to expect a kid this young to “behave” all the time when you have no idea what might be happening in their lives that isn’t in their control.

Publicly excluding one child is going to make behavior issues worse. You’re turning them into a pariah to their peers – kids can be mean, and honestly don’t need much to single someone out as “other.”

I know you want to use some kind of reward system for the kids who are behaving the way you want, but you’re talking about 6 year olds! Something as big as a BBQ at the park should have been an all-or-nothing class goal. Singling out the one kid who is having trouble (which, again, you as the teacher will almost NEVER know the true source of) is bullying.

If these were high schoolers that would be one thing – teenagers are more mature and can be expected to have more control over their behavior – but we’re talking about kids who are only SIX years old.

You need to rethink your reward system, keeping in mind age-appropriate expectations for these children.

Edit: some of your comments specify that this kid has an IEP. 100% YTA. A kid that young who already has an IEP is never going to be able to meet that level of behavioral expectation, regardless of whatever accommodations the IEP calls for. Perfection for a month! You set this kid up to fail. Hopefully not on purpose, but that’s still the outcome. Learn from this in the future.

Other people agreed.

This is what really gets me. It’s such an unrealistic expectation. The child has issues and they only messed up once in a whole month. That seems worth celebrating not punishment. I feel like if you are setting up a system and it’s possible for all but one child to succeed it’s a bad system. Especially at this age. There needs to be some sort of safeguard. – @exhaust

If the kid only missed one noodle sticker in the month and in every other month has missed more then to me that IS improvement worth celebrating. If the kid normally misses half the stickers then if I was his parent I would probably be overjoyed at his progress and furious that he was being excluded- he tried, and he is like six years old not 16. – @krackeninheels

It’s not appropriate. I have a group of kids with educational goals that come in once a week for extra help and to get caught up. We are currently doing a “pizza party” reward for meeting goals. The expectation is 80% of the goal being met for each kid. And even then, if one kid is at 60% I am not going to cancel the party. I am not even going to tell them what percentage they are at. They have all worked hard to meet their goals and they are all different with different abilities. So next week…pizza for all and a huge Congrats and thank you for trying. – sheramom4

Sadly, even after earning categorical asshole status from the Reddit community, we learn that the teacher doubled down on her decision not to let Bobby attend with his peers.


I had a meeting today after school with the parents and the principal.

The principal agrees it would not be fair to the other students to allow Bobby to participate. She expressed she understands the frustration but she needs to make it fair for all students and not just Bobby.

The father said he understood and thought it was a fair assessment if all the other students were able to complete the goal.

The mother argued Bobby’s IEP. The principal then reminded her we follow his IEP as a courtesy but as a private school we legally do not have to follow it and she has a choice to come to this school but if she’d like to unenroll Bobby then there was a waiting list of students they could contact to take his place.

Bobby will still be enrolled in the school and in my class if anyone is wondering. He will not be attending the barbecue.

Wow! If the Principal has such little regard for the fact that Bobby has learning issues, and apparently views him as an imposition at her ‘private school,’  what hope does this little boy have? Sadly it doesn’t seem as though Bobby will get support from either his teacher or anyone higher up. I know where I would be telling them to stick their school!

Do you think the teacher was being fair to all of the students?


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Jolene enjoys writing, sharing and connecting with other like-minded women online – it also gives her the perfect excuse to ignore Mount-Washmore until it threatens to bury her family in an avalanche of Skylander T-shirts and Frozen Pyjama pants. (No one ever knows where the matching top is!) Likes: Reading, cooking, sketching, dancing (preferably with a Sav Blanc in one hand), social media, and sitting down on a toilet seat that one of her children hasn’t dripped, splashed or sprayed on. Dislikes: Writing pretentious crap about herself in online bio’s and refereeing arguments amongst her offspring.

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