Effective discipline is a challenge for all educators. The issue of discipline, also referred to as classroom management, continues to surface as one of the most challenging problems in education today (The Discipline Dilemma: Problems and Promises. ). Research suggests in order to maintain a well-disciplined classroom, teachers must establish rules and expectations, enforce limits of rules, encourage and reinforce positive behavior, and effectively manage their classrooms. Effective discipline begins with rules, enforced with logical and meaningful consequences. Desired behavior is encouraged and positively reinforced.
Teachers who manage their classroom efficiently use discipline as a teaching tool so students benefit and learn stability, order, respect, and values of law. Strictly speaking, discipline means to teach, not to punish (Discipline as Teaching). Setting clear, firm rules and expectation which leave little room for interpretation will establish a solid foundation by which a classroom will function. Begin the school year by setting clear rules, and using good morals and values to build positive expectations.
The use of positive language will promote the behavior desired from students. Setting positive rules and expectations will give teachers and students the right mindset to start the school year off right. Start the school year off by setting clear rules. The formulation of classroom rules from the beginning of the year has been found to be one of the most important components of effective discipline (Discipline in K through 8th Grade Classrooms) The first day of school, while teachers are getting to know students and vice versa, is a good day to establish what is expected before any misbehavior can occur. Involve students in the rule making process. This allows them to voice what they expect of their classmates. Depending on the age of students, teachers may get unusual requests for rules; however, students may also have expectations of their peers which the teacher may not have thought of. Students should not make all of the rules for the class, so their input should be limited to an appropriate, manageable number. After rules are made, they should be discussed and posted where they can be easily seen. Students should fully understand what is expected so little room is left for them to interpret what they is desired. There should be a time for questions about rules so students can get clarification on any rules they do not understand. Students should also be able to demonstrate their understanding by putting the newly established rules to use in practice scenarios. By posting rules where they are easily visible, students can be easily reminded of what is expected of them. Most importantly, teachers should be prepared to change and revise rules if they are not functioning in the intended way. Include students in the change. They should give their input on why the rule is not working and how it should be modified to suit its purpose. Teachers are ultimately responsible to make changes. Once a new or modified rule is established, it should be put into effect and students should be reminded of the change when necessary. The use of good morals and values to build positive expectations will help students build character qualities that will enhance the learning environment. The most effective and respected teachers express their beliefs, demands, and expectations within the context of clear values and goals that benefit learning (`Discipline with dignity’: Beyond obedience. ). Positive expectations tell what qualities are desired and how those qualities can be achieved. For example, honesty is a quality desired by all teachers and would be achieved by telling students to tell the truth all of the time. The quality is stated in a positive manner, instead of using the negative, do not lie. Use a mission statement to define what is desired and expected. The statement should give purpose to classroom rules. It should give a general explanation of what is expected and should communicate positive expectations effectively. The mission statement should also be used to troubleshoot behavior, by asking students if their behavior agrees with the expectations in mission statement. Give appropriate expectations so goals are attainable. When goals are reached, teachers should acknowledge the achievement and set higher goals. Students should have individual and class goals. Students learn and mature in different ways, making individual goals just as important as goals set for the class. Responsibility is a goal all teachers have for their students and as such a goal is reached, students should be given more responsibility and independence. Teachers should use positive language to promote the behavior they want from students. Effective teachers communicate in a way that promotes what is desired, rather than what is not desired. Rules and expectations should inform students what to do instead of what not to do. Teachers should refrain from using words like do not, never, among others. Rules should be put in a format that states a direction and an action. For example, When getting in line, always line up in two lines with boys in one line and girls in another. Telling students what not to do will leave students guessing what they are supposed to do. Teachers should speak using positive words, even when giving feedback on a negative situation. Teachers should set the example of positive behavior for students. Most students look up to their teachers. Sometimes, teachers are the only positive influence on students. In light of this, teachers should behave accordingly and be cautious of what they say and do in the presence of their students. When rules are not followed, teachers must enforce limits of rules with fair and effective punishment. It is necessary for students to be held accountable for their actions. Teachers should use action to enforce rules and communicate effectively with students to reach an understanding and solution. Students should be held accountable for their actions. They [teachers] hold students accountable by expressing approval and disapproval, and they seek consequences that teach each student a connection between what they have done and what happens as a result of those actions (`Discipline with dignity’: Beyond obedience. ). When students are held accountable, they are learning that all of their choices have consequences. Broken rules should be enforced immediately. Teachers should correct misbehavior and broken rules as soon as they are noticed. Punishment should be done privately; however, correction should be immediate. If a teacher ignores one broken rule or behavior, the student will continue to test the limits of the established rules. Enforcement should be simple and should let the student know you see what is happening. For example, It’s a good thing I like you, Here’s the deal: I’ll pretend I didn’t see that, and you never do it again, Consider yourself scolded, Can you solve that? Or do you need me to intervene, Am I driving you over the edge? and That’s inappropriate (Learning to Discipline. ). When rules are being enforced, teachers should focus on the rule broken, not the problem. For ten rules, there could be fifty problems. When enforcing rules, the problem should not be the focus. For instance, a student is talking while another student is addressing the class. When correcting the behavior of the student who is talking, the teacher should focus on the rule: Be respectful to all students and teachers. The situation can easily be corrected by saying something like, You were talking while another student was giving a book report. Our rules say we are to be respectful to all students and teachers. This method allows students to understand that talking is not always a problem, but they must follow the rules. Use action to enforce rules when needed. Teachers must use action, not anger to control behavior (A Back-to-Basics Approach to Classroom Discipline. ). Teachers should avoid yelling at students as a control measure. Anger will upset students instead of correcting their behavior, and they may later lash out in anger. Action shows students the teacher is in control. When action is required, it should be swift and firm, without negotiation. If teachers threaten punishment, they should follow through. Punishment should be given the same day it is warranted, if possible. Once a punishment has been decided, students should not be allowed to negotiate the punishment or its terms. Use a variety of consequences and vary them for different students; not all students will respond to the same consequences. At the same time, using the same punishment over and over will not be effective. Subject work should not be given as a punishment. Use positive punishment when possible, giving students a chance to apologize in writing or in front of the class, or rectifying a situation. Consistency is essential when disciplining students. Avoiding favorites is one way to ensure discipline will be consistent. Similar infractions should have similar consequences. If more than one student is being punished for the same offence, all of the students should receive a similar punishment. Effective communication is essential when correcting and disciplining students. A one-on-one conversation should take place that identifies the broken rule, explains the punishment and gives feedback. When speaking to students, teachers should ask for input from the student about the situation. In gathering information, teachers need to know the difference between a mistake and misbehavior; mistakes happen while learning while misbehavior is intentional. To maintain the dignity of students, teachers should have a one on one conversation to identify the reason a rule was broken and to gather any additional information needed to make a logical decision about a punishment. Through conversation and social interaction with more capable adults and peers, students can negotiate ways to reach an understanding and/or a solution to the problem at hand (Classroom Management: Seventy-Three Suggestions for Secondary School Teachers. ). When enforcing discipline with a punishment, teachers should explain the wrong doing and why it goes against classroom rules. It is important to remember to focus on the rule, not the problem. Furthermore, the punishment should also be explained in detail to avoid any confusion. During the one-on-one conversation, teachers should give feedback on the negative behavior and why it is not desired. Include ways to keep the behavior from resurfacing. Also, talk about ways to further improve. Things discussed in this conversation should stay between the teacher and student. Reinforcement and encouragement of positive behavior by teachers is necessary for students to exhibit good behavior. The teacher must set the standards and go about efficiently and consistently shaping the appropriate behavior Teachers should encourage positive behavior. They should be a positive influence, but not force students to change. Teachers will be encouraging positive behavior by empowering students to make good choices on their own, while recognizing the consequences of the wrong choices. Ask questions before a rule is broken that requires the student’s thought and reflection. When teachers give students options regarding which choices to make, students will then think about the end result and the consequences of their choices. It is also necessary to reinforce positive behavior in a way that encourages students. Students learn to behave only as certain behaviors are reinforced. When reinforcing behavior, teachers should recognize good attitudes and the desires of their students to learn. Rewards are always a good idea when reinforcing behavior; however, students should understand a reward is something you earn, not something required. In effectively managed classrooms, the teacher is the authoritarian. Teachers should plan ahead and be prepared. The teacher should also be the final authority, especially concerning how students are to be and how the class schedule will run. In a classroom, the teacher is responsible for the learning that takes place. Successful teachers are prepared before coming to school, so they can begin reaching as soon as the late bell rings. Teachers must have lessons planned in advance and have daily objectives for each subject to be taught. Teachers should strive for a productive classroom where students are learning and achieving. two goals teachers should have: productive classroom environment and student satisfaction. No teacher can truly succeed without achieving both goals (Classroom Management: Seventy-Three Suggestions for Secondary School Teachers). Teachers should also be the authority for their students. It is the job of the teacher to lead students. Teachers have a duty to their students to structure their class schedule and decide how class time is best utilized. Teachers also have the responsibility to make an organized seating arrangement that allows students to learn and be productive, and allows for the teacher to reach each student. Authoritarians know that students work and learn best in well-organized, directional, and purposeful classrooms (A Back-to-Basics Approach to Classroom Discipline. ). In conclusion, discipline is the foundation of a successful classroom. Research suggests in order to maintain a well-disciplined classroom, teachers must establish rules and expectations, enforce limits of rules, encourage and reinforce positive behavior, and effectively manage their classrooms. With established rules and positive expectations, students will know what behavior is desired. Teachers should be prepared for discipline problems with firm and fair action. Effective classroom management will allow for a productive and purposeful classroom. Whatever the causes of student misbehavior, there’s no denying that being able to skillfully handle it is a prerequisite for getting kids engaged in worthwhile content or moving peacefully from class to class. Works Cited Conte, Anthony E. The Discipline Dilemma: Problems and Promises Education. 2. 115. 308. Chemlynski, Carol. Discipline as Teaching. Education Digest. 3. 62. 42. Geiger, Brenda. Discipline in K through 8th Grade Classrooms. Education Digest. 2. 121. 383. Curwin, Richard L. `Discipline with dignity: Beyond obedience. Education Digest. 4. 63. 11. Metzger, Margaret. Learning to Discipline. Phi Delta Kappan. 1. 84. 170. McDaniel, Thomas R. A Back-to-Basics Approach to Classroom Discipline. Cleaning House. 5. 67. 254 Brainard, Edward. Classroom Management: Seventy-Three Suggestions for Secondary School Teachers. Cleaning House. 4. 74. 207.