Monday, February 20, 2012

Behavior Accountability: Discipline Board

Every teacher will have to deal with discipline problems.  Some teachers say, "I don't sweat the small stuff."  When teachers say this, I hear, "I let a lot of misbehavior go unchecked in my classroom."  This is a generalization, of course... But my students know that I am the one in control of my classroom.

If a student steps out of line, I am quick to discipline fairly and objectively.  I do not hold grudges, and I do not yell.  I used to yell... It's true. ...Admit it! It's easy to become a yeller in a classroom full of children!  However, a few years ago, I heard a speaker who specialized in classroom management and something clicked!  They said that, when you yell, you automatically create a reason for students (all students being yelled at) to become defensive.  You lose 'face'.

What typically happens in a classroom:
In a class of 30 kids, there might be 4 or 5 kids acting up and being loud while the other 25 are being little angels, subjected to the silly antics of the few.  Then, a teacher can only focus on the negative behaviors and yells something like, "Get to work!  The warm-up is right there!  You all know you need to come in and do it, so what is the problem?!"  Those 4 or 5 "bad" kids got a tongue lashing, but so did the other 25.  You've lost them.  They are no longer on your side.

Instead, what this speaker did was focus on those who were doing what they should be doing and thanked them for it.  An example: "Thank you everyone who is doing the warm-up quickly and quietly.  I really appreciate it!"  The 25 "good" kids feel appreciated and remain on your side, while the 5 "bad" kids feel embarrassed that they didn't get a thank you.  Works like a charm!  I know this from experience!

When a student does something unacceptable, I call them into the hallway and have a private chat with them.  They are told why they're in the hallway and how I feel their behavior is disrespecting me.  As a result, they are also disrespecting their peers.  I also give them the option of leaving my class and being placed in a different classroom to do their work, to which they always say, "No".  Then, I tell them if I ever have to speak to them again, they will be placed on the "discipline board".  Obviously, if the behavior is WAY out of line, other disciplinary measures are utilized.


Now if this all sounds very idealistic and soap-boxy, let me say 2 things:
  1. My classroom is a very fun place to be and students would rather be there than anywhere else.  I reinforce the value of respect almost every day and most of my students want to do what they can to please me.  This has only happened through practice and trial/error, so I did not start out this way!
  2. I teach 6th graders and they are (in my opinion) the best grade to teach.  They are new to middle school and not yet jaded, and most of them are slightly afraid since they're in a new place.  If you get them early, and they trust and respect you, behavior management is much easier.
I hope this helps and doesn't sound too preachy!  I believe classroom management is the #1 most important factor in being a good teacher.  Some might disagree with me, but I have found it to be true!!  :)

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