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IMPROVING SCHOOL AND CLASSROOM DISCIPLINE

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IMPROVING SCHOOL AND CLASSROOM DISCIPLINE

 

School personnel seeking to improve the quality of discipline in their schools and classrooms are encouraged to follow the guidelines implicit in the discipline research. These include:

AT THE SCHOOL LEVEL:

1.      Engage school – and community-wide commitment to establishing and maintaining appropriate student behavior in school and at school-sponsored events.

2.      Establish and communicate high expectations for student behavior.

3.      With input from students, develop clear behavioral rules and procedures and make these known to all stakeholders in the school, including parents and community.

4.      Work on getting to know students as individuals; take an interest in their plans and activities.

5.      Work to improve communication with and involvement of parents and community members in instruction, extracurricular activities, and governance.

6.      If commercial, packaged discipline programs are used, modify their components to meet your unique school situation and delete those components, which are not congruent with research.

7.      For the principal:

8.      Increase your visibility and informal involvement in the everyday life of the school; increase personal interactions with students.

9.      Encourage teachers to handle all classroom discipline problems that they reasonably can; support their decisions.

10.  Enhance teachers’ skills as classroom managers and disciplinarians by arranging for appropriate staff development activities.

AT THE CLASSROOM LEVEL:

1.      Hold and communicate high behavioral expectations.

2.      Establish clear rules and procedures and instruct students in how to follow them; give primary-level children and low-SES children, in particular, a great deal of instruction, practice, and reminding.

3.      Make clear to students the consequences of misbehavior.

4.      Enforce classroom rules promptly, consistently, and equitably from the very first day of school.

5.      Work to instill a sense of self-discipline in students; devote time to teaching self-monitoring skills.

6.      Maintain a brisk instructional pace and make smooth transitions between activities.

7.      Monitor classroom activities and give students feedback and reinforcement regarding their behavior.

8.      Create opportunities for students (particularly those with behavioral problems) to experience success in their learning and social behavior.

9.      Identify those students who seem to lack a sense of personal efficacy and work to help them achieve an internal locus of control.

10.  Make use of cooperative learning groups, as appropriate.

11.  Make use of humor, when suitable, to stimulate student interest or reduce classroom tensions.

12.  Remove distracting materials (athletic equipment, art materials, etc.) from view when instruction is in progress.

WHEN DISCIPLINE PROBLEMS ARISE:

1.      Intervene quickly; do not allow behavior that violates school or classroom rules to go unchecked.

2.      As appropriate, develop reinforcement schedules and use these with misbehaving students.

3.      Instruct students with behavior problems in self-control skills; teach them how to observe their own behavior, talk themselves through appropriate behavior patterns, and reinforce themselves for succeeding.

4.      Teach misbehaving student’s general prosocial skills–self-awareness, cooperation, and helping.

5.      Place misbehaving students in peer tutoring arrangements; have them serve either as tutors or tutees, as appropriate.

6.      Make use of punishments which are reasonable for the infraction committed; provide support to help students improve their behavior.

7.      Make use of counseling services for students with behavior problems; counseling should seek the cause of the misconduct and assist students in developing needed skills to behave appropriately.

8.      Make use of in school suspension programs, which include guidance, support, planning for change, and skill building.

9.      Collaborate with misbehaving students on developing and signing contingency contracts to help stimulate behavioral change; follow through on terms of contracts.

10.  Make use of home-based reinforcement to increase the effectiveness of school-based agreements and directives.

11.  In schools which are troubled with severe discipline problems and negative climates, a broadband organizational development approach may be needed to bring about meaningful change; community involvement and support is critical to the success of such efforts.

INEFFECTIVE DISCIPLINE PRACTICES:

1.      Avoid the use of vague or unenforceable rules.

2.      Do not ignore student behavior which violates school or classroom rules; it will not go away.

3.      Avoid ambiguous or inconsistent treatment of misbehavior.

4.      Avoid draconian punishments and punishments delivered without accompanying support.

5.      Avoid corporal punishment.

6.      Avoid out-of-school suspension whenever possible. Reserve the use of suspension for serious misconduct only.

Vishal Jain

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