Discipline in the classroom Children and teenagers (with their own


Children and teenagers (with their own special problems) have very high energy levels and it is inevitable that from time to time the teacher may have to deal with disruptive behaviour. As with all students the mood of the class and the individuals within that class will be determined by many external factors. For example: family life, peer group associations, individual personality traits. The behaviour and attitude of the teacher is perhaps the single most important factor in a classroom and can thus have a major effect on discipline.

(ITTT unit 19 Class discipline/management)

Defining effective managers as those teachers whose classrooms were orderly, had a minimum of student behaviour, and had high levels of time on task and ineffective mangers as those whose classrooms lacked these qualities, Kounin found that effective and ineffective managers did not differ greatly in their methods for dealing with disruption. Instead, effective managers were found to be more skilled at preventing disruptions from occurring in the first place. (J.S.Kounin).

The specific skills he identified have been backed by recent research by educational psychologists are listed below.

Having and telling students of your high expectations for student learning and behaviour. Using personal warmth and encouragement so students know they are expected to learn well and behave appropriately. Have a good rapport with the students.

Having and teaching clearly classroom rules and procedures. These are reviewed at the beginning and periodically during the course. Specifying consequences and their relationship to student behaviour. No personal feelings must influence this, only the bad behaviour of the students.

Enforcing classroom rules promptly, consistently and equitably. Effective teachers respond quickly to misbehaviour, respond in the same manner at different times and impose consistent sanctions regardless of gender, race or other personal characteristics of students. They show the same respect for students as they expect from them.

Maintaining a brisk pace for lessons and moving smoothly between activities. Keep things moving in the classroom and lessons interesting and varied which increases learning and reduces likelihood of misbehaviour.

Monitoring classroom activities and providing positive feedback. Good teachers observe and comment on student behaviour, reinforcing good behaviour through verbal, symbolic and tangible rewards. They do not shout but keep calm and follow the schools discipline code. Sharing with students the responsibility for classroom management. Work to include students in a sense of belonging, ownership and self- discipline rather than imposing it from the outside.

Some researchers have identified that misbehaviour can be a response to academic failure and improvements have been noted when marginal students are provided opportunities to experience academic and social success.

(These validated practices identified in the works of Bowman 1983, Brophy 1983, Cotton and Savard 1982, Emmer1982, Gettinger1988, Evertson1985 & 1989, Gottfredson & Karweit 1989). I taught TOPS (training opportunity programmes for unemployed and students of very low school marks) for 6 years and many of the boys and some girls came directly from the courts. Most of them were Polynesians and came from broken homes or homes with lots of violence. They suffered from lack of esteem and fear of failure as they had failed all through the schooling system. They had no respect for the court system or the police, as they could not be touched because of their age. They were surly, aggressive and unresponsive. Participating and trying anything new or different was resisted. When they finally passed something the smiles on their faces was as big as Africa (as was their parents at the graduation). The comment was: 'this is the first time I have passed anything'.

Sometimes no matter what the teacher does the anti-social behaviour of a student (home, family problems, does not want to attend) or the atmosphere/standards of the school will mean the teacher can do no more with a student. The teacher should seek help from peers and the school principal. (Life experience Lindsay Robertson)