Discipline in the classroom is many faceted. In this article, I will focus on being proactive with discipline. I have been a teacher for over twenty-five years and have always worked to create a positive, caring and supportive classroom for my students. In a classroom, there must be rules, positive consequences and negative consequences. That is part of creating a positive discipline plan. If teacher is proactive, she will have much less difficulty with discipline. The goal i
s to be able to teach the curriculum in a comfortable classroom atmosphere-for you as a teacher and for your student.
The single best resource I have found for discipline is a book entitled The First Days of School by Harry Wong. Harry says, ?What you do on the first days of school will determine your success for the rest of the school year.? His book details every aspect of how to make the first few weeks smooth, organized and positive. He details several things that the student wants to know on the first day of school. Two of the things that I would make sure were a part of my day were (and are listed in Harry Wong?s book): 1) Who is the teacher as a person? 2) Will the teacher treat me as a human being? I always shared a book, detailing my life, with the children on the first day of school. I made sure that it had pictures of me when I was a baby (one in diapers!) and others as I was growing up and some as an adult. I talked to them about what I did in my younger years, what kinds of things I like to do as an adult, and what my likes and dislikes were. I wanted them to see me as a special person just like each of them. It is the first step in letting them know me personally and inviting the same from them. I would have many activities in the next few weeks that would help me get to know my individual students better. Then I can talk with them personally in our daily classroom life and have a more close relationship with them.
Small things that a teacher does every day make a difference. Harry suggests that you greet your children at the door. It was a policy at my school and expected of each teacher. It is important for so many reasons. The child connects with you in eye contact and can tell you their ?news? or just say hello. The teacher can see if the child might look sad and inquire about that. She can say hello to the child and give the child a compliment to start the day off on a positive note. (?I like that new haircut!?) The teacher could make sure the hall manners of children are in place and that they are settling in and on to the first task of their school day.
Another important thing is to start the school day in a structured way. Have some direction/task for the child to do when they first come in each day. In my classroom, the first task would be ?Question of the Day? and children would have to put their name on the ?yes? side or ?no? side of the question. (example: Do you have a dog at home?)
Discipline can be from a proactive or reactive mode. Proactive discipline will make the teacher?s/child?s life much more pleasant throughout the year. The teacher should have many procedures/ideas in place to prevent problem behavior. If she does not, she will find herself reacting to the problem behavior and not being effective in correcting that. A teacher named Beth Lewis on a help site said that she wanted her ?classroom to be more student centered. I wondered what would happen if I gave my students small freedoms and important responsibilities? I sensed that the children would rise to my high expectations. And they have.? When the year starts, it is important for children to know what the teacher?s expectations are. On the first day and often within the next few weeks, the teacher should go over the Rules for the Classroom. These rules should be posted and they should be few in number. (Example: ?Treat others kindly.?) This one rule can include many behaviors with a broad focus and insinuate to children what they should not do. The teacher should also have a list of positive consequences and negative consequences. It is then the children who are in charge of their behavior. If the child hits another child, the teacher can then say, ?I see you have chosen to break an important rule, and you have told me that you need a consequence.? Likewise, if children are making good choices in the classroom they get a positive consequence. Positive and negative consequences should and posted in the classroom. One positive consequence at my school that worked well was ?Super Student Awards?. Any adult in the school could write a ?Super Student Award? for any child in the school. It could be for anything that that adult saw as positive. The note was put in the principal?s box and he called the parents that night and told them about this positive behavior. The next day, the principal came to the room, presented the written award to the child and told the class what it was for with congratulations.
There are many aspects to positive discipline in the classroom. Most important are to respect the child as a person/learner, to make known the rules, positive consequences and negative consequences, and to follow through with these each day of the school year.
www.harrywong.com This site is a beginning and there are many sites with further information and in support of his ideas in the book.
Author: Tracy Cobb
Date of post: 2007-03-29