How To Learn From Your Mistakes and Improve Classroom Discipline
Jumping from the rigor of college courses straight into teaching, managing, planning and disciplining a classroom full of rambunctious youngsters can be intimidating. While college education and student-teaching programs are constantly refining the way educators are trained, there’s really no substitute for experience.
While new teachers feel well-armed with the information they need to teach their subject, many are also anxious and unprepared when it comes to the logistics of running a classroom, especially when disciplining students and managing the class’ behavior. With many established discipline models to choose from – like the self-discipline and desist approaches, for example – you may find that your natural discipline tendencies don’t really align with one method over another.
These methods can provide an excellent framework for new teachers, but a truly effective strategy is often a blend of multiple approaches, tailored to your students’ age, behavior patterns, cultural traditions and gender, as well as your teaching style, expectations from your school district and other outstanding rules and traditions.
When taking a look at your classroom’s current discipline plan, be objective. Survey other teachers around you and ask for their insight on how your classroom is running. If you’re having issues with a particular student, find time to talk to their other teachers to get a broader picture of behavioral patterns and the efficacy of other teacher’s approaches to discipline.
Most importantly – and most obviously, – observe the behavior in your class from an objective perspective. While you may feel the need to restructure your discipline strategy in the middle of the school year, it is well understood that consistency is key to classroom management. Children feel safest – and thus well behaved – when they know what to expect on a daily basis. Use summer break as your opportunity to research new strategies and implement them at the start of the school year for the best results.
Regarding your students, take note of the most common misbehaviors throughout the year. Start logging incidents and categorize them in one of the three following categories:
- Low-Level Disruptions – Examples include, talking out of turn, making noises, arriving to class late or unprepared
- Disengaged Behavior – Examples include, failing to pay attention, not completing work, disregarding instructions
- Aggressive Behavior – Examples include, arguing with you or other students, physical aggression, threats to themselves or others
Similarly, take a page out of the behavior modification approach to classroom management, log your disciplining actions throughout the year and categorize as follows:
- Positive Reinforcement – Examples include, giving explicit praise or extra credit to students for participating in class, recognizing students who achieve a certain score or higher on a test or quiz
- Positive Punishment – Examples include, meeting with a student after class to discuss a behavioral issue, issuing an additional assignment to a disruptive student
- Negative Reinforcement – Examples include, taking away the activity in which the poor behavior occurred, removing a distracting stimulus from the classroom
- Negative Punishment – Examples include, detention or suspension, taking away recess or other privileges unrelated to the behavior incident
Carefully – and, again, objectively, – examine the efficacy of these strategies. The more comfortable you become with self-reflection, the more confident you will feel and the more smoothly your classroom will run.
If you’re still uncertain and want a little more guidance, check out these three trends in classroom management that can help integrate technology into your discipline practice.