Classroom Discipline: Teaching Stability, Order, Respect and the Value of Law.
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.”
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