Positivie Classroom Discipline

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Fred Jones's positive classroom discipline
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Fred Jones's positive classroom discipline

Jones, who has spent more than two decades studying the socialization of children and nowg conducts workshops on his techniques, defines classroom discipline as "the business of enforcing classroom standards and building patterns of cooperation to maximize learning and minimize disruptions." (Charney, 1992) "Classroom management procedures must be positive" Jones says. "They must affirm the student, set limits, and build cooperation in the absence of coercion. They must be gentle." And, he says: "They must be economical--practical, simple, and easy to use once mastered. They must ultimately reduce the teacher's workload." Unless teachers learn to discipline properly--with a cost-effective set of high-level professional skills, Jones warns, they will become tired and frustrated and lose their capacity to be nurturing or even to care. "The advanced state of this exhaustion and exasperation, which is epidemic, is called burnout," he says. (Charney, 1992) That's how Cheryl Wilcox felt after eight years teaching seventh-graders at Park View Middle School, in Yucaipa, California. "I was so burnt out and frustrated, I was thinking about quitting the education business," she says. "But after I learned to arrange my classroom to my advantage, to clearly explain to my students what I wanted, and most important to 'shut up, slow down, relax, get close, and kill time,' I put myself back in control of the situation without creating confrontation," says Wilcox. "Jones' workshops taught me that when you get upset, you immediately begin to spin your wheels and go nowhere." In the past, it was far more common for a teacher to reach for a paddle or to eject a misbehaving student from the classroom in hopes of maintaining order. But most states have banned the paddle, and school officials realize that, unless the incident involves weapons, violence, or drugs, throwing students out of class defeats the learning process. As a result, teachers have turned to alternative methods. (Charney, 1992) Independence High School, in Glendale, Arizona, has adopted Teen Court as an alternative to suspension. The program, implemented as a partnership with the YMCA, is designed to put the power of law and positive peer pressure into the hands of the students. Once the option of Teen Court has been offered to a student and the student has accepted guilt for the offense, the student is expected to bring a parent to Teen Court, where the evidence is heard and a 12-member student jury imposes a sentence, such as community service, a seminar on alcohol abuse or similar topic, or service on the Teen Court itself. "The purpose of Teen Court is to encourage students to become self-directed learners," says Principal Ron Gardner. And, in the process, "they also learn about judicial proceedings."

Do Something Positive
Prince William County Schools, in Woodbridge, Virginia, is considering having students suspended for truancy spend their time cleaning up graffiti on school and public buildings. Instead of sitting in front of the television at home all day, truants should be forced to do something positive that would benefit their peers and the community, suggests board member Charlie Colgan. (Kaplan, Carter, 1995) The school district is "looking into this idea," says Associate Superintendent Jack Lynch. Once the district makes sure the students would be properly supervised, district officials will recommend to the superintendent that community service projects be used as a discipline alternative. Students at Tavan Elementary School, in Phoenix, get one to three points each time they misbehave. If they get 10 points, they have to bring their parents to see the principal. If they get three more points, they are suspended. However, good behavior reaps tangible...
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