Reflecting on how you respond to discipline problems is a powerful tool to change your own behavior. When done with a deliberate eye toward critical analysis you can create a more common-sense approach to addressing issues. As you think about yourself as a disciplinarian, consider the following methods that have worked for your colleagues around the state.
I pull from Responsive Classroom and the “Nurtured Heart” approach. No one strategy works for every kid. I try to use positive behavior intervention first, but some kids require special circumstances. I am very clear from the beginning about what I expect, what it should look like and sound like, then it’s the student’s responsibility to do the right thing. The first time I tell them to “reset” (they stop and try again with a different choice) then they have to move their spot, then they have to leave the room (sometimes to the office, sometimes to a buddy classroom sometimes just in the hall.) I tend not to use individual incentive plans because I find many kids manipulate the system. We collect compliments, as a whole class, to earn a whole class reward. This year, I had a group level incentive plan because I had so many kids struggling with transitions and chattiness. Consistency is key as well as not engaging with power struggles.
-Cassie Edwards, MSAD 60 TA
For me, the best strategy is trying my best to build a better relationship with the student. If I can discover a common interest that we share, it helps the student see me more as a person than as an authority figure who they want to rebel against.
– Nate Petersen, Hermon TA
In an ideal world, the very best way to curb bad behavior in the classroom is to have dynamic lessons that fully engage students in learning. But the world is not always ideal, at least in my class, and sometimes my learning activities are less engaging. When I see a risk that kids will act out, I try to use the classroom space and proximity to help them realize that my eyes are on them and that I expect respect for me and other learners. Standing near a student can often be just enough to remind them of potential consequences for actions. This proximity can also allow for additional connections with a student whose behavior is not always ideal. Building that relationship can do wonders to curb future behavioral challenges!
-Mary Beth Nolt, Scarborough EA
Students Who Blurt
You all know the student who seems to have a story about everything you’re talking about. The kid who’s mom has a car just like the one in the book, or the child who went on a vacation like the one you’re describing as well. They’re all great stories, but they derail the lesson in an instant. Take this advice from a fellow educator to turn stories into conversations at a more appropriate time of the day.
Student Talking Parking Garage
Create a road with black construction paper and divide the road with white adhesive strips, like parking spaces. Create a colored pocket (like an old library pocket to hold a card) and place the pocket on the adhesive strip. When a student makes a comment while you’re teaching ask that student to write their name on an index card with a few words to remind them of the idea and then place their card in the parking garage (the pocket you created). Once kids get used to the method they can on their own get up and write their own parking garage notes and place them in the spots created along your road. To make this work, create a “sharing time” later on in the day where everyone has the chance to talk about their parking garage stories. With this method you’re still giving students an opportunity to talk about what’s important to them and you’re giving yourself the time and space to teach your lesson uninterrupted.