Chapter 1: What Is Classroom Discipline and How Do I Encourage Productive Efforts in My Classroom? To help you answer those questions, this chapter explores the nature and value of professionalism in teaching and discipline. It indicates what is required of professional teachers, introduces an organizing structure to help you work toward constructing a system of discipline tailored to your needs and those of your students, and asks you to reflect on a number of questions about student behavior—an exercise to expand your thinking about classroom behavior and how it is best managed.
Chapter 2: How Can I Anticipate My Students’ Behavior and Deal with Factors That Promote Misbehavior? To help you answer those questions, this chapter summarizes typical behaviors of students at different levels of development, as influenced by genetic predispositions and social and cultural realities. Specific factors are identified that cause variations in behavior, and suggestions are provided for softening the effects of factors that lead to misbehavior.
Chapter 3: How Do I Recognize and Deal with Atypical Behavior That Is Neurological-Based? This chapter examines the sometimes baffling behavior seen in students with NBB (neurological-based behavior), helps you understand why those students at times cannot fully control what they say or do, and provides suggestions for dealing with such behavior in an appropriate manner. (Authorities estimate that about 10% of students in school exhibit NBB.)
Chapter 4: What Are the Foundations That Underlie Today’s Best Systems of Discipline? This chapter pinpoints the beginning of modern classroom discipline in 1951 and traces its development up into the twenty-first century. The term modern discipline refers to comprehensive approaches designed to prevent misbehavior and to correct it through tactics that are humane and helpful rather than harsh. The chapter reviews the lasting contributions made by nine great innovators whose influence helped form today’s discipline.
Chapter 5: How Does Ronald Morrish Use Purposeful Teacher Guidance to Establish Class Discipline? Morrish, a former teacher, calls his approach Real Discipline, which he describes as an organized set of tactics that good teachers have used for generations to help students become well-mannered and self-directing.
Chapter 6: How Do Harry and Rosemary Wong Use Responsibilities and Procedures to Establish Class Discipline? Harry and Rosemary Wong, authors of the all-time best-selling book in education, explain why and how students should be helped to understand their roles in the class and trained to follow procedures quickly and correctly. This greatly enhances learning and efficiency in all class activities and significantly reduces the incidence of misbehavior.
Chapter 7: How does Fred Jones Establish Class Discipline by Keeping Students Responsibly Involved? Jones, a psychologist, shows how to organize the classroom to keep students actively involved in lessons through Say, See, Do Teaching, “working the crowd,” effective body language, and incentives that help students develop self-control.
Chapter 8: How Does William Glasser Use Choice Theory and Quality Education to Establish Class Discipline? Glasser, a psychiatrist, emphasizes that we cannot successfully make students do anything, and therefore must use legitimate influence that prompts students to choose to do the right thing. He explains how to exert such influence through quality communication, choice management, and quality teaching.
Chapter 9: How Does Spencer Kagan Use Structures and Teacher–Student Same-Side Collaboration to Establish Class Discipline? Kagan, a psychologist, shows teachers how to involve students in making collaborative decisions about behavior and other matters that help keep classrooms calm and purposeful. He provides a number of structures, or sets of procedures for teachers to use when students disrupt. The structures halt the disruption, provide acceptable ways for students to meet their needs in the classroom, and lead to long-term improvements in behavior.
Chapter 10: How Does Marvin Marshall Establish Discipline by Activating Internal Motivation and Raising Student Responsibility? Marshall, a former teacher and administrator, calls his approach Discipline without Stress. The approach emphasizes increasing the level of responsibility among students. It uses four levels of social development to influence students to conduct themselves properly. At the highest level, students conduct themselves in accordance with what they believe to be the right thing to do.
Chapter 11: How Does Craig Seganti Use Positive Teacher Leverage and Realistic Student Accountability to Establish Class Discipline? Seganti, a classroom teacher in inner-city Los Angeles, explains how to keep students actively engaged in lessons while conducting themselves in a courteous manner. He describes the teaching style he has found effective and his system of benign leverage that keeps students well-mannered and on track.
Chapter 12: How Do Top Teachers Establish Personal Influence with Students Who Are Difficult to Manage? This chapter presents advice from a number of outstanding authorities on how to establish personal influence with students who are difficult to manage. The authorities include Dave Hingsburger (Power Tools), Stephen R. Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), Haim Ginott (Teacher and Child), Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott (Positive Discipline in the Classroom), William Glasser (Every Student Can Succeed), Tom Daly(The ADHD Solution for Teachers: How to Turn Any Child into Your Best Student), Richard Curwin, Allen Mendler, and Brian Mendler (Discipline with Dignity), and Ed Ford(The Responsible Thinking Process).
Chapter 13: How Do Leading Experts Engender Respect and Civility in the Classroom? This chapter presents key ideas furnished by P. M. Forni, head of the Civility Institute at Johns Hopkins University; Michele Borba, international author and consultant on building moral intelligence; and Diane Gossen, international authority on the role of restitution in bringing about long-term improvement in behavior.
Chapter 14: How Do C. M. Charles and Others Energize Their Classes? This chapter presents strategies for increasing the levels of student involvement and energy through activities that emphasize camaraderie and sense of purpose. The chapter features the contributions of C. M. Charles, author of The Synergetic Classroom, and five teachers at various levels who share efforts they have found effective in energizing their classes.
Chapter 15: How Does Eileen Kalberg VanWie Build and Maintain Democratic Learning Communities in Technology-Rich Environments? This chapter focuses on procedures for establishing democratic communities of learners in technology-rich environments, a topic new to discipline. The lead author of the chapter is professor and researcher Eileen Kalberg VanWie, one of the first to become thoroughly conversant with the process of establishing group purpose and camaraderie in classes that feature high levels of technology use.
Chapter 16: How Do I Finalize a System of Discipline Designed Especially for Me and My Students? This chapter presents guidelines for realizing the ultimate goal of this book—a personalized system of discipline that meets your needs and those of the students you teach. To assist you in completing this culminating work, the planning rubric that appeared in Chapter 1 is presented once more, along with numerous possibilities you might wish to address or include. Also provided are suggestions for communicating your discipline plan to students, parents, and administrators. Finally, two prototypical discipline systems, prepared and used by real teachers, are presented for your examination.
discipline strives for three main goals: (1) to maintain productive learning environments, (2) to teach students to be self-directing and responsible, and (3) to promote civility among all members of the class.
In your approach to discipline, you must treat students as everyone wants to be treated; you must communicate with students respectfully and engagingly; you must make school as fun for students as possible while maintaining responsibility; you must teach them to behave as you expect them to and understand why; and when they misbehave, you must show them how to behave appropriately and require they do so.
In the majority of classrooms, misbehavior occurs frequently and interferes unnecessarily with teaching and learning. Dealing with that misbehavior consumes time that should be devoted to instruction and has a wearing effect on teachers and students. In the worst cases, classroom misbehavior is so extreme that teachers can hardly teach at all, and consequently students fail to reach acceptable levels of learning. As frustration grows, teachers in those out-of-control classes tend to make ever greater demands, but over time they draw into themselves, defeated and disillusioned, while students endure the classes without accomplishing much of value.
Patrick Traynor (2005) has pointed out that effective discipline depends on (1) teachers’ ability to recognize maladaptive behavior in the classroom, (2) their skill in selecting and implementing effective intervention tactics, and (3) their positive can-do attitude toward any discipline procedure they try to use. We should add two more capabilities to Traynor’s list: (4) their ability to prevent misbehavior from occurring, and (5) their ability to communicate effectively with students.
The term classroom management is also often used in reference to discipline, but it more accurately has to do with establishing routines and organizing the classroom and materials of instruction.
- Display a charismatic demeanor.Charisma is a quality of attractiveness that draws attention and makes others want to be in your presence and interact with you. You acquire charisma by making yourself personally interesting to students. Be upbeat and pleasant, with a touch of wit (don’t try to be overly witty—just a little bit works best). Share some of your interests, experiences, and talents. Let students know a bit about your family life and what you like to do outside of school. Use humor, without being silly. Never use sarcasm, which is too easily misinterpreted. Show personal interest, be helpful, and treat students considerately.
Suggestion 6: Organize Your Thoughts on How You Will Relate with Students and Provide the Support to Help Them Behave Responsibly
Questions for you to keep in mind include the following:
- Meeting students’ needs.What are students’ prime needs and how can you attend to them in the classroom?
- Relationships.How will you relate to students and have them relate to you and each other?
- Trust and responsibility.How will you foster trust and responsible behavior in your classes?
- Communication.How can you communicate most effectively with your students?
- Enjoyable teaching.What will you do to make lessons interesting and worthwhile?
- Your personality.How can you make your personality work for you in teaching?
- Partnerships with students.How can you involve students as partners in maintaining responsible behavior?
- Your behavior.How you will make sure you don’t “misbehave” as a teacher?
Specifics of My Discipline Plan
Show what you will include in your discipline plan concerning the following:
- Desired behavior.The behavior you expect, and will endeavor to maintain, in the classroom
- Rules of behavior.A set of class rules that reflects the desired behavior
- Prevention of misbehavior.What you will do proactively to keep misbehavior to a minimum
- Support of proper behavior.How you will support proper student conduct during instruction
- Intervention when misbehavior occurs.How you will intervene when misbehavior occurs or is imminent
- Communication with students.How you will speak with students to influence proper behavior, including what you will say and how you will say it
Communicating My Discipline Plan to Students and Others
Indicate briefly how you will make students, administrators, and parents fully aware of your discipline plan, including its purpose and nature and the roles of teacher, students, and possibly parents.
We all know that young people often misbehave in school. Much of their misbehavior seems innocuous, but even so, most authorities urge you to confront it. Even small amounts of misbehavior interfere with teaching and learning, and those small amounts can grow quickly to unacceptable proportions.
Action taken in advance to minimize misbehavior is referred to as preventive discipline. Supporting students in staying on task with self-control is referred to as supportive discipline. Stopping misbehavior and helping students behave in a more suitable manner is called corrective discipline, and the act of applying corrective discipline is referred to as intervention.
Suppose you developed what you considered an excellent lesson, only to find that students disregarded what you asked them to do. Then what?
student misbehavior is any behavior that, through intent or thoughtlessness
- Interferes with teaching or learning
- Threatens or intimidates others
- Oversteps society’s standards of moral, ethical, or legal behavior
13 types of student misbehavior:
- Inattention.Daydreaming, doodling, looking out the window, thinking about things irrelevant to the lesson
- Apathy.A disinclination to participate, sulking, not caring, fear of failure, not wanting to try or do well
- Needless talk.Chatting during instructional time about things unrelated to the lesson
- Moving about the room.Getting up and moving about without permission, congregating in parts of the room
- Annoying others.Provoking, teasing, picking on, calling names
- Disruption.Shouting out during instruction, talking and laughing inappropriately, using vulgar language, causing “accidents”
- Lying.Falsifying to avoid accepting responsibility or admitting wrongdoing, or to get others in trouble
- Stealing.Taking things that belong to others
- Cheating.Making false representations for personal benefit or wrongly taking advantage of others
- Sexual harassment.Making others uncomfortable through touching, sex-related language, or sexual innuendo
- Aggression and fighting.Showing hostility toward others, threatening, shoving, pinching, wrestling, hitting, bullying
- Malicious mischief.Doing intentional damage to school property or the belongings of others
- Defiance of authority.Talking back to the teacher, ignoring the teacher, or hostilely refusing to do as requested
For Reflection and Orientation: 20 Topics about Discipline
To help focus your attention further on practical questions about discipline, here are 20 topics for you to consider. You will find it helpful and enjoyable to exchange views on these questions with colleagues. As you progress through the book, you will become able to answer the questions more fully.
- Proper behavior.How should students behave at school, and why? To what extent should you take into account students’ natural behaviors that are part of their maturational process? To what extent should you insist that students behave in ways that do not come to them naturally?
- Misbehavior.Why do students misbehave when they know they shouldn’t? What is the attraction for doing so? What payoff do they expect? Do you believe most students from third grade upwards already know how to behave properly?
- Needs.How do student needs affect discipline? What is meant by “needs”? How are needs different from “wants”? Should students’ needs ever be resisted or denied? If so, to what extent and for what purpose?
- Students’ realities.How might discipline be affected by disability, poverty, or cultural realities? Should you have the same standards and expectations for all students? Why or why not? Do unequal expectations among students have any benefits? How would you justify to parents having different expectations among students in your class?
- Preventing misbehavior.What can teachers do proactively to prevent student misbehavior? How much misbehavior do you think can be prevented? If it is true that we learn best from our mistakes, why try to keep students from making them? Should we encourage students to make mistakes in how they behave toward others, so as to learn better options?
- Responsibility.What connection do you see between student behavior and responsibility? What does it mean to “accept responsibility”? Is that expression just jargon? Can all students learn to accept responsibility for their behavior? What if students willingly claim to accept responsibility for their misbehavior but don’t change as a result?
- Promoting proper behavior.What can teachers do to influence students from within to behave properly? That is, what might teachers do to get students to see a benefit in behaving properly?
- Personal connections.What can you do to connect more closely with students on a personal level? Should you try to “be one of them”? What is the advantage of closeness? And how close is too close? Most teachers think a closer rapport with students is a good thing, but how do you accomplish it and where are the limits?
- Charisma.How does teacher charisma affect student behavior? Do you like charismatic teachers? What does it take to be charismatic, and can it be overdone? How would you, personally, make yourself a bit more charismatic?
- Teaching style.Do you think teaching style affects student behavior? If so, in what ways? What does teaching style mean? How would you characterize your natural style? Would you want to change it, or would you do better just being yourself?
- Physical environment.In what ways can the physical environment of the classroom affect student behavior? What do you think physical environment means? Can you give examples of things in the environment that influence students to behave less acceptably or more acceptably?
- Psychosocial environment.In what ways can the psychosocial environment (predominant emotions, feelings, attitudes) affect student behavior? How would you characterize the psychosocial environment you’d want in your classroom? Happy, fun, exciting, businesslike, task oriented, no nonsense? Toward what ends?
- Communication.What does communication mean in relation to discipline? What are some different types of communication? What roles do they play and what effects can they have? What do you think you might say to a student who disrupts your lesson, and how would you say it?
- Parents.How can parents or guardians assist, if at all, in matters of school discipline? How might you get them involved? How would you communicate with them? What would you expect them to do?
- Ethics and trust.What do these terms mean? What do you see as their value in classrooms? How can teachers promote ethics and trust among students? Would you try to teach these things or would you just let them occur naturally?
- Intervening in misbehavior.What should you do when students misbehave? What do you want to have happen? What would you say? Would you try to avoid offending the students? What could you do that would be most helpful to them, you, and other members of the class?
- Conflict.What does conflict mean? How do you deal with a conflict between students? Between you and a student? Between you and a parent? Does conflict resolution necessarily result in a winner and a loser? Have you heard of win-win conflict resolution? How does it work, or how do you think it might work?
- Energizing your class.How do you make your class energetic and lively? Have you experienced classes that were energetic and classes that were lethargic? What caused the difference? How did they affect you personally?
- Structured discipline.How would you characterize a structured, consistent approach to discipline? What differences do you see between a structured approach and a “reactive” approach, in which teachers wait until students misbehave and then react to the situation? Which of the two approaches would you be most comfortable with? Why? Occasionally you see very good teachers who don’t seem to use a well-organized approach to discipline—how do they get by with that?
- Support for your approach.Would you like for parents and your administrator to know about and support your approach to discipline? What advantages would that bring? How would you communicate your program to them? How would you ensure their support? What would you do if they don’t agree with your approach?
behavior is shaped through the interplay of three main factors: (1) inborn propensities encoded in our genes, (2) experience with the people, conditions, opportunities, customs, and values that exist within the groups of which we are members, and (3) our abilities to think for ourselves and make decisions. These three factors interact to determine how students conduct themselves in and out of school.
Can all my students make distinctions between work and play?
Middle School Grades (Ages 12 to 14)
Behavior becomes more diverse as students move into the middle school years, and teachers require great skill in order to teach well and build supportive relationships. Bodily changes worry, perplex, excite, and dismay these students. New realities associated with sex stir and baffle. Psychological weaning from parents leaves them feeling lost and cut off. They crave adult support, yet the emerging need for independence produces conflict with adults. These factors provide serious distractions to learning.
Meanwhile, students are becoming increasingly rebellious and disposed to probing at the boundaries of rules and customs. Their awe of the teacher has waned, but it has been replaced with respect and affection for teachers who show understanding and helpfulness. Intellectually, most of these students have acquired a great new power—the ability to think abstractly. Their minds work as quickly as do those of adults, although they lack adult wisdom. Students can make use of concepts such as love, hate, honesty, loyalty, negative numbers, force, speed, time, and atomic particles. They have become able to think about thought.
list of needs drawn from suggestions set forth by William Glasser (1998) and C. M. Charles (2008), among others:
- Security.Feeling safe without worry
- Association.Being with and interacting with others
- Belonging.Feeling a part of things, being valued, having a place in the class
- Dignity.Feeling respected and worthwhile
- Hope.Feeling that school is worthwhile and success is possible
- Power.Having some control over and input into events in the class
- Enjoyment.Participating in activities that are interesting, pleasurable, or rewarding
- Competence.Being able to do many things well, including the expected schoolwork
students consistently do better in school and enjoy school more when they have the following:
- A teacher who is friendly, interesting, helpful, and supportive
- Camaraderie or enjoyable associations among classmates
- Interesting, worthwhile topics to learn about
- Awareness of the importance or value of what they are being asked to learn
- Enjoyable instructional activities
- Opportunity for and likelihood of success and accomplishment
- Attention drawn tactfully to student accomplishments and improvment
things students dislike and try to avoid, such as the following:
- Sitting still for long periods
- Keeping quiet for long periods
- Working alone
- Not knowing why something is being taught or learned
- Memorizing facts for tests
- Completing lengthy reading and writing assignments
- Doing repetitive work
- Engaging in individual competition where there is little or no chance of winning
- Having little or no choice in activities, assignments, or assessment
- Not knowing how to improve the quality of their work
human behavior and values across all groups are far more similar than different.
The following is a composite of suggestions from various authorities on working more effectively with students from various backgrounds.
- Learn as much as you can about the value systems of students from backgrounds different from your own, including what they consider important, how they relate to each other and to adults, and how they relate to teachers and school in general.
- Become knowledgeable about the hidden rules that regulate group and personal behavior.
- Show acceptance of your students, their families, and their lifestyles.
- Show solidarity with students and be eager to help them learn and find success.
- Emphasize the knowledge, skills, and values needed for school success and for a strong personal and cultural identity.
- Create a more hospitable environment by communicating the expectation that all students can succeed in school and will be helped to do so.
- Link curriculum content to students’ out-of-school experiences.
- Attempt to mentor students; this is an especially effective tactic for improving motivation and good personal relations between student and teacher.
- Develop codes of class behavior that are sensitive to all cultures while emphasizing responsibility and respect. Demonstrate for students the kinds of behavior that helps them succeed in school and have them practice that behavior.
- Teach students how to speak and write in a formal manner.
- Keep family members informed about their child’s performance and behavior and ask them to work with you for the child’s benefit.
Bad behavior, just like good behavior, is a product of ongoing interactions between psychological needs and socio-environmental influences that are part of the human condition.
needs motivate behavior and that misbehavior occurs when something within the student or the environment pushes behavior outside the limits of acceptability.
influence on student behavior at four different points:
- Before misbehavior occurs, we can soften factors that are known to promote misbehavior, thus reducing its incidence.
- When misbehavior seems incipient, we can take steps to relieve fatigue, boredom, or distractions and thus help students keep their behavior within acceptable limits.
- After misbehavior occurs, we can react in ways that help students replace misbehavior with appropriate behavior, thus leading to changes that improve students’ lives.
- We can communicate at all times in a manner that helps students conduct themselves appropriately while preserving their dignity.
Conditions That Reside in Individual Students
Ten conditions that often promote misbehavior reside within individual students: unmet needs, thwarted desires, expediency, urge to transgress, temptation, inappropriate habits, poor behavior choices, avoidance, egocentric personality, and neurological-based behavior (NBB).
- Unmet needs.Both in and out of the classroom, students continually try to meet strongly felt needs for security, belonging, hope, dignity, power, enjoyment, and competence. When any of these needs is not being satisfied, students become unsettled, distracted, and more likely to behave inappropriately.
- Suggestions: Acknowledge these needs and always try to see they are being met. By observing students and talking with them, you can usually identify and often remedy the needs that are prompting misbehavior.
- Thwarted desires.When students fail to get something they badly want, they may complain, become destructive, sulk, pout, or act out.
- Suggestions: When this happens, tell students you can see they are troubled or distracted. Ask if there is anything you can do to help. Be sympathetic, but don’t dwell on the problem. Do something to draw their attention to the lesson, such as posing a challenge or creating a mystery.
- Expediency.All students look for ways to make their lives easier and more enjoyable. In doing so, they will sometimes take shortcuts, conveniently forget what they are supposed to do, look for ways to get out of work, and intentionally break rules.
- Suggestions: Expedient behavior is seldom a problem in classes that are interesting, but it appears often in classes students find boring. Hold discussions about expediency and its troublesome effects. Ask students why they sometimes take the easy way, such as reading book summaries or reviews rather than the as signed book, rushing through a writing assignment, or copying others’ ideas. If they are comfortable enough to answer honestly, they will probably say they do so because they don’t like the work, don’t see the point in it, or don’t want to spend time on it. Ask them what would encourage them to give their best effort. Listen to their suggestions and make use of them if you can.
- Urge to transgress.Many of us have a natural aversion to rules imposed by others, and we seem to find it a challenge to break them, despite knowing there is a chance of getting caught or even harming ourselves or others. Students succumb to this urge frequently, especially when class activities are not appealing, and they cheat, take shortcuts, tell lies, break class rules, and annoy others. Suggestions: Discuss this urge, its effects, and how it can be controlled sensibly. Discuss the reasons for rules, including how they reduce potential harm, equalize opportunity, and help us live together harmoniously. If students are old enough, ask if they understand what ethics, ethical conduct, and personal character mean. Ask why they think ethical people are so widely admired.
- Temptation.Students regularly encounter objects, people, situations, and behaviors that are powerfully attractive. This phenomenon is evident in association with music and lyrics, ways of speaking, clothing fashions, lifestyles, and cheating on tests and assignments. Although pursuit of these temptations can result in mild or severe misbehavior, students nevertheless find them so attractive they will occasionally do, adopt, mimic, acquire, or associate with them, despite knowing they are forbidden to do so.
- Suggestions: Conduct discussions with your students to analyze temptation and seek to understand why certain objects, styles, and opportunities are so seductive. Help students foresee the undesirable consequences of following disapproved styles and manners. Help them clarify the lines that separate appropriate behavior from inappropriate and urge them to resist involvement in activities that are likely to do them harm.
- Inappropriate habits.Inappropriate habits are ingrained ways of behaving that violate established standards and expectations. Jason uses profanity at school. Maria is discourteous and calls others names. Larry shirks his assignments. Some of these habits are learned in school, but most become established outside of school.
- Suggestions: Bring inappropriate habits to students’ attention without pointing a finger at anyone. Discuss their harmful effects and, when desirable, have students practice acceptable alternatives to name-calling, teasing, verbal put-downs, cheating, lying, and showing disregard for others.
- Poor behavior choices.The behaviors students use in attempting to meet their needs are sometimes acceptable, sometimes not. In most cases, students choose to behave as they do. For example, Alicia, when seeking attention, annoys others so much they avoid her. Alan, seeking to increase his sense of power, refuses to do what his teacher requests. Assuming those behaviors are under their control, we say that Alicia and Alan are making poor behavior choices. Suggestions: Alicia and Alan need to understand that their choices of behavior are working against their success in school. To help them, you might address the class as a whole and pose the following questions:
- “What are some of the things you have seen students do to (get attention, be acknowledged, get better grades than they deserve, get out of work, become members of certain groups)?”
- “Does their behavior usually get them what they want?”
- “What could those students do that would probably bring better results?”
- Avoidance.No one likes to face failure, intimidation, ridicule, or other unpleasant situations and treatment. One way to escape those things is to avoid activities or places where they might occur, or if that is not possible, simply refuse to participate. But in school, students’ reasons for avoidance are often not evident to teachers. Consider Norona, who refuses to participate in a group assignment. Her refusal seems to show disrespect for the teacher, but her real reason is that she doesn’t want to appear inept in front of her peers. Suggestions:To help students such as Norona, show them how to face unpleasant situations and work through them. Rather than singling out Norona, involve the entire class, perhaps first in pairs, then small groups, then large groups. You might ask the following questions:
- “Are there things you try to avoid in school, such as people, events, or activities you find frightening or embarrassing?”
- “Which of those things could best be dealt with through avoidance (e.g., a clique that is maligning other students)?”
- “Which of those things cannot be dealt with through avoidance (e.g., giving an oral report in front of the class)?”
- “What is the worst thing that can happen in class if we make a mistake?”
- “Are mistakes valuable? Can they help us learn?”
- “Could we agree as a class never to make others feel embarrassed when they make mistakes?”
- “What might a person do to reduce his or her fear of mistakes or being involved in unpleasant situations?”
- Egocentric personality.Students with egocentric personalities focus primarily on themselves, believe they are superior to others, and usually think they can do no wrong. Most classes contain one or more students with such personalities.
- Suggestions: To help these students behave more appropriately, ask questions such as the following in class discussions:
- “Are the needs and interests of all students important, or do only certain students deserve attention?”
- “Is one person often entirely right and everyone else entirely wrong?”
- “Is everyone entitled to an equal opportunity in the class? How should you and I react to a person who always wants to dominate, be first, be right, and quarrel with those who don’t agree?” (Make sure the proffered suggestions are positive in nature, not negative.)
- Neurological-based behavior (NBB).A few students behave undesirably not through intent or thoughtlessness but because their brains call forth behavior that they cannot fully control. NBB encompasses a number of different diagnoses—collectively called mental health issues—including learning disabilities, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sensory-processing disorder, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and autism spectrum disorder. Frequently, students with these diagnoses do not respond reliably to normal discipline tactics. Chapter 3 explains these conditions and provides information for working with students with NBB diagnoses.
- Suggestions: Teachers who have students with NBB need help from specialists. That help will usually be provided by the school. But regular classroom teachers can do many things on their own, as indicated more comprehensively in Chapter 3. Mel Levine (2002) urges teachers to explain clearly to the class and others that some people function (are “wired up,” if you prefer) in such a way that they lose control at times, more often than others do. Other authorities ask teachers to (1) always model the calm, soothing behavior we want students to display and make sure they feel loved and respected as human beings; (2) be careful about making eye contact, which stimulates upper-cortex activity and is often interpreted as a challenge or threat; (3) react to situations calmly (a raised voice tends to make students with NBB raise their voices in return); and (4) provide considerable structure to activities (meaning directions and procedures) because a lack of structure often makes learning difficult for students with NBB.
Conditions That Reside in Class Peers and Groups
Two significant causes of misbehavior reside in class peers and groups—provocation and contagious group behavior. Here are suggestions for dealing with them.
- Provocation.A great amount of misbehavior results from students’ provoking each through teasing, petty annoyance, put-downs, sarcastic remarks, and aggression or bullying. Heather is trying to study, but Art’s incessant chatter frustrates her to the bursting point. Marty calls Jerry a name and Jerry responds hotly.
- Suggestions: Provocation often produces strong emotions that overwhelm self-control and increase combativeness. Discuss this phenomenon with your class. Ask:
- “Is provoking others or bullying them consistent with the class character we are trying to build?”
- “Can you name some things people say or do that upset you so much you want to retaliate?”
- “If you retaliate, what do you think will happen? Will that put an end to the conflict?”
- “What are some positive things we can do to stop provocation in the class?”
- Contagious group behavior.Students sometimes succumb to peer pressure or get caught up in group emotion and as a result may misbehave in ways that would be out of character if they were by themselves. It is difficult for students to disregard peer pressure, easy to get swept up in group energy and emotion, and easy to justify one’s misbehavior as “only what others were doing.” Because Kerry and Lee want to look cool to their peers, Kerry defaces school property, and Lee bullies a weaker member of the class. Neither Kerry nor Lee would do those things if by themselves.
- Suggestions: Discuss this phenomenon with your class. For example, tell the class about some event in which a friend of yours, let’s say Sarah, behaved badly just because others were doing so. Indicate that Sarah is now very embarrassed about her behavior and wishes no one knew about it. Ask your students if they know any stories like Sarah’s they would be willing to share, without mentioning names the class might recognize. (Tell them they must not mention family matters or members—doing so is a sure way to get parents upset at you.) If they share stories, guide the class in analyzing one or two of them. If they don’t contribute a story, have a fictional one ready for their consideration. After hearing or recounting the story, ask questions such as:
- “Is the behavior something the person will be proud of later?”
- “Why do you suppose the person behaved that way?” (e.g., fun, camaraderie, testing limits, being seen as clever or cool)
- “What do you think the long-term results will be for the person?” (e.g., an unpleasant story to remember, regret, guilt, getting caught, being found out, worry, disappointing one’s family, possible punishment, living with knowing you did the wrong thing)
- “How do you think the possible benefits of the behavior compare with the probable dangers?”
- “Once you do something you are ashamed of, is there any way to make amends and save your reputation?”
- “How can you stay away from, or keep out of, group activities that are unlawful, unethical, or against the rules?”
Conditions That Reside in Instructional Environments
Four conditions that promote misbehavior reside in instructional environments. They are physical discomfort, tedium, meaninglessness, and lack of stimulation. All can be easily corrected.
- Physical discomfort.Students often become restless when made uncomfortable by inappropriate temperature, poor lighting, or unsuitable seating or workspaces.
- Suggestions: Attend to comfort factors in advance and ask students about them. Make corrections as necessary.
- Tedium.Students begin to fidget after a time when an instructional activity requires continued close attention, especially if the topic is not appealing. Suggestions: Break the work into shorter segments or add something that increases the interest level.
- Meaninglessness.Students grow restless when required to work at topics they do not comprehend or for which they see no purpose.
- Suggestion: Make sure the topic is meaningful to students—that they understand it and see its relevance and importance in their lives.
- Lack of stimulation.The topic and learning environment provide little that is attractive or otherwise stimulating. Students take no interest in the lesson. Suggestions: Select topics and activities in which students have natural interest. When that is not possible, introduce elements students are known to enjoy, such as novelty, mystery, movement, competition, group work, and role-playing.
Conditions That Reside in Teachers and Other School Personnel
We must face the fact that teachers and other school personnel sometimes misbehave in school, and in doing so they influence students to misbehave. Here are 10 examples of teacher misbehavior that sometimes contribute to student misbehavior:
- Poor habits.Personnel in the schools have sometimes unknowingly acquired counterproductive ways of dealing with students or each other, such as using bad language and speaking in a sarcastic or bossy manner.
- Suggestions: Reflect regularly on how you treat your students and speak to them. Self-monitor your behavior and make sure it is as you want it to be. If you see or hear colleagues treating students in an unprofessional manner, take the students aside at an appropriate time and casually mention the matter and ask students about the effect it had on them. If students are being adversely affected, speak in private with your school administrator and voice your concerns, then leave the matter in the administrator’s hands. If you feel you must confront a colleague, do so tactfully. Your colleague is not likely to appreciate your comments.
- Unfamiliarity with better techniques.Some educators have not had occasion to learn some of the newer, more effective ways of teaching and relating with today’s students.
- Suggestions: It is important that you keep yourself informed about topics and activities that are well-received by students. Don’t be reluctant to approach popular teachers at your school and ask them what seems to work best for them. You can also find innumerable outstanding ideas and suggestions on the Internet and in professional books and journals that might be available at your school.
- Presenting poor models of behavior.At times all of us behave inconsistently and irresponsibly, especially on days when for whatever reason we are short on self-control. On those occasions we sometimes treat students discourteously. We can’t expect to be perfect, but we must realize that when we treat students poorly—which is to say, in ways we would not want to be treated—we leave a lasting impression that not only damages relationships but also encourages students to imitate our unfortunate behavior.
- Suggestions: Always be the best model you can for your students, who watch you very closely and often pattern their behavior after yours (especially when you misbehave). If you do anything inappropriate, call attention to it, explain why it was wrong, and apologize if necessary.
- Showing little interest in or appreciation for students.We sometimes fail to show interest in students or appreciation for them as individuals, despite knowing they want our attention. If we disregard them repeatedly, students become hesitant to approach us or may seek our attention in disruptive ways. Suggestions: Give each student as much personal attention as possible. Greet them by name, exchange a friendly word, and show you are open to discussing any challenges they might be facing in school. Try to help them feel at ease and acknowledge their accomplishments.
- Succumbing to personal frustration.Some educators get beaten down from continually having to deal with misbehavior or inconsiderate parents. The stress may at times make it difficult for them to work with students in a kind, helpful manner.
- Suggestions: Educators often try unsuccessfully to force students to comply with expectations. Force does not work. Replace it with encouragement and enticement and you will see your students become cooperative, considerate, and willing to make an effort. Go out of your way to communicate with parents and show appreciation for their child.
- Reacting badly to provocation.Students may do and say things intentionally to get under your skin. You know you should react with composure, but instead you become upset and perhaps lose self-control.
- Suggestions: When students try to provoke you, disregard their comments and actions and proceed as if nothing has happened. If you feel it necessary to respond, only say, “Something is causing violations of our agreement about being considerate of others. I don’t like to see that in our class. Is there something we can do to fix the problem?”
- Providing ineffective guidance and feedback.In the absence of guidance and feedback, students sometimes do not understand what is expected of them, how much progress they have made, or what they can do to improve.
- Suggestions: Make sure students understand clearly what they are supposed to do and how they should go about it. During and after assigned activities, tell students what they have done well what they can do to improve. Ask them to give their appraisals of the activity and the efforts they have made.
- Using ineffective personal communication.Some educators are not adept at communicating with students on a personal level. This may cause students to become uneasy and reticent about approaching their teachers.
- Suggestions: Speak regularly with students in a friendly way. Students want you to know their names and exchange pleasantries with them. Often they want to tell you their views on various matters and would like to know yours. Speaking with students as social equals gives them a sense of personal validation. You just need to make sure you avoid comments that hurt feelings or dampen enthusiasm. Without exaggerating, say things that increase optimism and bolster confidence, and do so honestly.
- Failure to plan proactively. Many educators do not adequately plan their instructional program in advance or anticipate problems that might arise. Then, when unexpected things happen, they are not prepared to respond as they would like.
- Suggestions: Think carefully about your curriculum and instructional activities and how your students are likely to respond to them. By anticipating potential difficulties, you can avoid most problems and prepare yourself to deal with whatever might eventuate. Think through what you will do when people are injured or become suddenly ill, grow defiant, or get into fights. Decide what you will do and say if an unauthorized visitor approaches you, if a parent berates you, if the class groans when you make an assignment, and so forth. Determine how you can respond decisively to such eventualities, yet maintain your composure and ability to relate positively with others.
- Using coercion, threat, and punishment. Students don’t like to be threatened or forced to do anything. If you treat them abrasively, they keep a watchful eye on you—fearful of being scolded, embarrassed, or demeaned—and will very likely develop negative attitudes toward you and school.
- Suggestions: Give up coercion and threat and replace them with considerate helpfulness, personal attention, and good communication. Explain to students how they should behave, demonstrate those behaviors, and have students practice the behaviors. When you see students behave responsibly, thank them for doing so. For older students, do this privately or express your appreciation to the class as a whole.
Chapter 3: How Do I Recognize and Deal with Atypical Behavior That Is Neurological-Based?
About 10 percent of students cannot reliably control what they say or do – their brains cannot always control their behavior in ways that serve them best.
Neurological-based behavior is behavior that results from cerebral processes that do not occur in a “normal” manner. Common diagnoses within NBB include attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disabilities, sensory integration dysfunction, bipolar disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and brain injuries,
ew educators realize how prevalent these conditions are among school students. Consider the following:
- Childhood mental health conditions are now so common that some psychiatrists are calling them a “plague” (DeAngelis, 2004).
- You can expect, on average, about one in five of your students to have one or more mental health conditions that affect behavior in school (National Institute of Mental Health, 2008).
- As many as one in 10 students may suffer from a serious emotional disturbance (National Institute of Mental Health, 2008).
- Only 20 percent of children with mental health disorders get the kind of treatment they need (DeAngelis, 2004).
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, is the most commonly diagnosed mental health disorder in children, affecting 3 to 5 percent of school-age children (National Institute of Mental Health, 2005).
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds and the sixth leading cause of death for 5- to 14-year-olds (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 2008).
- An estimated 60 percent of teenagers in juvenile detention have behavioral, cognitive, or emotional problems (National Institute of Mental Health, 2008).
- Twenty-two percent of youths in juvenile justice facilities have a serious emotional disturbance, and most have a diagnosable mental disorder (Jans, Stoddard, and Kraus, 2004).
- Diagnosis of a single individual often reveals a constellation of mental health symptoms that exist simultaneously (Feldman, 2004). Two or more simultaneous diagnoses are calledco-morbid diagnoses.
- Mental health disorders are biological in nature. They cannot be overcome through willpower and are not related to a person’s character or intelligence.
- Serious mental illnesses can now be treated effectively, bringing a 70 to 90 percent reduction in symptoms. Treatment often includes a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial support (National Institute of Mental Health, 2008).
If you notice students who seem to have difficulty understanding, or who are not complying with expectations or requests, try using fewer words and increase the wait time for compliance. Make your directions clear, concrete, and consistent. You may need to show directions physically as well as explain them verbally. Ask students to repeat the directions or show you what they are supposed to do.
Some students’ sensory processing systems seem to be easily overwhelmed by excess visual and auditory stimulation. You can help those students by keeping the classroom neat and tidy, removing sources of unpredictable loud noise, enlarging printed questions or directions, and standing in front of a solid white overhead screen when giving instructions and directing lessons, all of which reduce distractions from extraneous sources. It is also wise to give directions more slowly and distinctly, check to ensure students have understood correctly, and maintain a sense of calm in the classroom.
When working with students with NBB it important to be as proactive as possible in ensuring student success. Strategies for this purpose include the following:
- Establish a positive and nurturing rapport with the students. Warmly greet them when they arrive at class. Show interest and talk about pop culture or something they are interested in.
- Modify the classroom to make it sensory friendly. Sit in the student’s seat and look at the room from the student’s perspective. See if there are things that might be distracting or annoying. It is far more productive to change the classroom than try to change the student.
- Add structure to time periods that are ordinarily unstructured, such as recess and free time. Students with NBB often have difficulty with unstructured time.
- Use and teach humor, which is effective with all students.
- Be careful of eye contact. It can stimulate upper-cortex activity, which is good for academic thinking, but can at times trigger episodes of misbehavior because eye contact combined with a stern tone of voice is often interpreted as a threat.
- Be careful how you react to situations. If you raise your voice, students with NBB will often raise their voices in return.
- When giving students a choice, provide two alternatives you can live with and let the students select the one they prefer.
A positive teacher attitude can greatly improve the quality of service provided to students with NBB and their families. Students experiencing difficulties in neurological processing are human beings first and foremost, who badly need help.
Chapter 4: What Are the Foundations That Underlie Today’s Best Systems of Discipline?
Prior to the 1950s, discipline was thought of as punitive actions teachers took to stifle student misbehavior. It was taken for granted that students knew how to behave properly, and to ensure they did, teachers applied unpleasant consequences to get students back on track when they misbehaved.
Glasser’s book, Schools without Failure, appeared in 1969 and showed how the principles of reality therapy could be used to advantage in everyday interactions with students. In addition, he introduced three new ideas that gained educators’ immediate attention:
- Failure is one of the most disheartening things that can happen to students in school. Because it so badly damages students’ motivation to persevere, it should be abolished, and curriculum changes and teacher support should be put into effect that enable all students to experience a degree of success in school.
- Students choose to behave as they do. No one makes them misbehave and no one can force them to learn. Teachers should view behavior as choice and influence students to make better choices in how they behave, thus leading to success in school.
- Behavior tends to improve when students are asked to participate in reflecting on difficulties in the classroom and taking steps to resolve them. Glasser proposed classroom meetings as the vehicle for involving students meaningfully. He described in detail how to organize and conduct classroom meetings and urged teachers to make them a regular part of the curriculum.
When students misbehaved, they were asked in a friendly tone to state what they had done and to evaluate the effect their actions had on the student, classmates, and teacher. Students were further asked to identify and commit themselves to subsequent behavior that would be more appropriate.
Lesson Management: Jacob Kounin
made a surprising finding—that good discipline was not so much dependent on what teachers did when misbehavior occurred, but on how they presented lessons and dealt with various groups in the class.
findings led Kounin to conclude that the most important factors in managing behavior are (1) presenting lessons that students find engaging, (2) managing those lessons to keep students involved and accountable, and (3) keeping track of what is going on in all parts of the classroom at all times and making that fact evident to students.
“The business of running a classroom is a complicated technology having to do with developing a non-satiating learning program; programming for progress, challenge, and variety in learning activities; initiating and maintaining movement in classroom tasks with smoothness and momentum; coping with more than one event simultaneously; observing and emitting feedback for many different events; directing actions at appropriate targets; maintaining a focus upon a group; and doubtless other techniques not measured in these researches.”
Congruent Communication: Haim Ginott
learning always takes place in the “present tense” and is intensely personal to students. Teachers must remain free from prejudgments about students and remember that each learner is an individual who requires much personal attention.
congruent communication, meaning communication that is harmonious with students’ feelings about situations and themselves. He used the term sane messages to refer to communication that addresses situations, rather than the students’ character or past behavior. He emphasized that teachers at their best, using congruent communication, do not preach, moralize, impose guilt, or demand promises. Instead, they confer dignity on their students by treating them as social equals capable of making good decisions. In contrast, teachers at their worst label students, belittle them, and denigrate their character.
Effective teachers also invite cooperation from their students by describing the situation when a problem occurs and indicating what needs to be done. They do not dictate to students or boss them around—acts that demean students and provoke resistance. Above all, teachers can rely on a hidden asset, which is to ask themselves, “How can I be most helpful to my students right now?” Innumerable classroom difficulties are avoided when teachers make use of that asset.
said teachers should feel free to express their anger and other feelings, but when doing so should use I-messages
Rudolf Dreikurs put forth two new ideas in classroom discipline. The first was that all students (indeed, all humans) have an inborn need for belonging that functions as a driving force in their lives. He believed that when students are unable to satisfy this prime need—their genuine goal—they turn by default to certain mistaken goals they think might help satisfy this need. Those mistaken goals lead students to misbehave by seeking attention, seeking power, seeking revenge, or withdrawing from class activities. Dreikurs’s second major contention was that learning occurs best in democratic classrooms that promote a sense of belonging and help students acquire self-discipline. He characterized democratic classrooms as those where students participate actively in class decision making and are treated as social equals by their teachers.
As noted, Dreikurs concluded that the genuine goal of student behavior is a sense of belonging. Students sense belonging when the teacher and others give them attention and respect, involve them in activities, and do not mistreat them. When students are unable to gain a sense of belonging, they often turn to the mistaken goals he called attention seeking, power seeking, revenge seeking, and displaying inadequacy. The pursuit of those mistaken goals often involves misbehavior. When seeking attention, students talk out, show off, interrupt others, and demand teacher attention. When seeking power, they drag their heels, make comments under their breath, and sometimes try to show that the teacher can’t make them do anything. When seeking revenge, they try to get back at the teacher and other students by lying, subverting class activities, and maliciously disrupting the class. When displaying inadequacy, they withdraw from class activities and make no effort to learn.
Dreikurs said the best way for teachers to deal with misbehavior is to identify and address the mistaken goal it reflects and discuss with students, in a friendly and nonthreatening manner, the faulty logic those goals involve. Dreikurs suggests calmly asking, “Do you need me to pay more attention to you?” or “Could it be that you want to show that I can’t make you do the assignment?”
social interest (the well-being of all students in the class, including oneself). Students gain self-control as they become able to show initiative, make reasonable decisions, and assume responsibility in ways that benefit themselves and others. Social interest is fostered by conditions that improve the school experience for everyone; hence every student has a stake in responsible classroom conduct. Dreikurs said that discipline based on social interest is likely to occur only in democratic classrooms, in which teacher and students work together to make decisions about how the class is to function. Dreikurs contrasted democratic classrooms with autocratic classrooms and permissive classrooms, as follows: In autocratic classrooms, the teacher makes all decisions and imposes them on students, doing nothing to help students show personal initiative and accept responsibility. In permissive classrooms, the teacher fails to require that students comply with rules, conduct themselves humanely, or deal with the consequences of their misbehavior.
uggestions Dreikurs offers teachers for promoting democratic classrooms:
- Always speak in positive terms; never be negative.
- Encourage students to strive for improvement, not perfection.
- Emphasize students’ strengths while minimizing their weaknesses.
- Help students learn from mistakes, which are valuable elements in the learning process.
- Encourage independence and responsibility.
- Show faith in students; offer them help in overcoming obstacles.
- Encourage students to help each other.
- Show pride in student work; display and share it with others.
- Be optimistic and enthusiastic—a positive outlook is contagious.
- Use encouraging remarks such as, “You have improved.” “Can I help you?” “What did you learn from that mistake?” (Dreikurs and Cassel, 1972, pp. 51–54).
This list of suggestions corresponds closely to suggestions made in today’s most effective systems of discipline. Dreikurs’s lasting contribution has been his championing of democratic classrooms that reflect the qualities of the foregoing list.
Canter provided a number of examples of how the plan can be put into effect at different grade levels. The plans followed this sequence:
- Explain why rules are needed.
- Teach the specific rules.
- Check for understanding.
- Explain how you will reward students who follow rules.
- Explain why there are corrective actions for breaking the rules.
- Teach the corrective actions and how they are applied.
- Check again for understanding.
- Students have the right to be in school, but they also have the responsibility to respect the rights of those around them. Rights and responsibility go hand in hand.
- School should be neither adult dominated nor student controlled. Rather, it should be a place where joint efforts are made to create a sense of community in which everyone can relate, grow, and create.
- Teachers should never treat students in ways they, the teachers, would not want to be treated. Students have dignity and innate worth, and deserve to be treated accordingly.
- Rather than rescuing students or lecturing them when they misbehave, teachers should give students opportunities to solve their problems in ways that everyone finds acceptable.
- If a discipline tactic works, and leaves student and teacher dignity intact, use it.
- Self-worth and dignity are to be maintained; anything that damages them is to be avoided.
- Students who consistently experience realistic consequences for misbehavior learn that they themselves have positive control over their lives. In contrast, students who are bribed, rewarded, and punished become dependent on others for approval. They work to please the teacher and try to figure out how to avoid getting caught when they misbehave.
- When reasonable consequences are invoked, students may cry, beg, argue, and sulk. They should not get their way by doing so.
Kohn suggests the following as ways to develop a greater sense of community in schools and classrooms:
- Show respect for students. Students behave more respectfully when important adults in their lives behave respectfully toward them. They are more likely to care about others if they know they are cared about. If their emotional needs are met, they show a tendency to help meet other people’s needs rather than remaining preoccupied with themselves.
- Help students connect. Connections among students are established and enhanced through activities that involve interdependence. Familiar activities for enhancing connections include cooperative learning, getting-to-know-you activities such as interviewing fellow students and introducing them to the class, and finding a partner to check opinions with on whatever is being discussed at the moment. Kohn also suggests using activities that promoteperspective taking, in which students try to see situations from another person’s point of view.
- Use classroom meetings. Kohn says the overall best activity for involving the entire group is a class meeting. He suggests holding class meetings at the beginning of the year to discuss matters such as, “What makes school awful sometimes? Try to remember an experience during a previous year when you hated school, when you felt bad about yourself, or about everyone else, and you couldn’t wait for it to be over. What was going on when you were feeling that way? How was the class set up?” Kohn says not enough teachers use this practice, particularly in elementary schools where an aggressively sunny outlook prevails.
- Provide classwide and schoolwide activities. To develop a sense of community, students need many opportunities for the whole class or the whole school to collaborate on group endeavors. This might involve producing a class mural, producing a class newsletter or magazine, staging a performance, taking care of the school grounds, or doing some community service.
- Reflect on academic instruction. In class meetings talk about how the next unit in history might be approached, or what the students thought was best and worst about the math test. Academic study pursued in cooperative groups enables students to make connections while learning from each other, and units of study in language arts and literature can be organized to promote reflection on helpfulness, fairness, and compassion.
Chapter 5: How Does Ronald Morrish Use Purposeful Teacher Guidance to Establish Class Discipline?*
Morrish: students are not mature enough to make decisions responsibly. As a consequence, teachers waste large amounts of time negotiating and haggling with students about behavior in school. Morrish provides a remedy for this situation. He asks teachers to begin by helping students do two things: (1) differentiate between right and wrong and (2) comply with adult authority. Later, when they became mature enough, students are invited to participate in class decision making.
Behavior management is about making the learning environment functional, keeping students on task, and minimizing disruptions. It attempts to deal with whatever behavior students bring to school. Although it is important in teaching, management does little to help students develop responsible behavior.
Real Discipline, on the other hand, teaches students how to behave properly. It requires them to show courtesy and consideration. It teaches needed social skills and trains students to work within a structure of rules and limits. It does these things while protecting students from self-defeating mistakes they are otherwise likely to make.
In part, this condition has occurred because we live in a society that stresses individual rights and freedom but has lost sight of personal responsibility, without which rights and freedom mean little. Personal responsibility is too important to leave to chance. We must live with certain requirements that put constraints on individual freedom. We do so in exchange for life that is safer, more secure, and more orderly.
Maxims Regarding the Mindset for Real Discipline
In 2003, Morrish published a small spiral-bound book called FlipTips, containing comments and maxims from his various publications and presentations. They reflect the mindset that Morrish would like teachers to acquire. Here are a few of the tips that illustrate Morrish’s ideas on discipline:
- Discipline is a process, not an event.
- Discipline is about giving students the structure they need for proper behavior, not the consequences they seem to deserve for misbehavior.
- Discipline comes from the word disciple. It’s about teaching and learning, not scolding and punishing.
- Discipline isn’t what you do when students misbehave. It’s what you do so they won’t.
- Discipline isn’t about letting students make their own choices. It’s about preparing them properly for the choices they will be making later.
- Don’t let students make choices that are not theirs to make.
- Train students to comply with your directions. Compliance precedes cooperation. If you bargain for compliance now, you’ll have to beg for it later.
- Always work from more structure to less structure, not the other way around.
- To prevent major behavior problems, deal with all minor behavior problems when they occur.
- Students learn far more from being shown how to behave appropriately than from being punished.
- The best time to teach a behavior is when it isn’t needed, so it will be there when it is needed. Today’s practice is tomorrow’s performance.
- If you teach students to be part of the solution, they’re less likely to be part of the problem.
- When dealing with adolescents, act more like a coach and less like a boss.
- A single minute spent practicing courtesy has more impact than a one-hour lecture on the importance of it.
- To stop fights, stop put-downs. Verbal hits usually precede physical hits.
- Discipline should end with the correct behavior, not with a punishment.
- Rapport is the magical ingredient that changes a student’s reluctance to be controlled into a willingness to be guided.
The Three-Phase Approach to Real Discipline
Phase 1: Training for Compliance
Students should be carefully trained in how to pay attention, follow directions, and speak respectfully, to the point they do these things automatically.
If you want students to raise their hands before speaking, tell them what you expect and show them how to do it. Then have them practice it until it becomes habitual. When students make mistakes, show them again how to do the act properly and, again, practice it. Morrish says to start small, and you will see a general attitude of compliance grow out of many small compliances.
When teachers overlook small misbehaviors, they are soon overwhelmed with explaining, negotiating, and tending to consequences.
If you walk by students who are doing something wrong and you say nothing, they interpret that as meaning you don’t care
Morrish says the best approach is to tell students what you want them to do and then insist they do it properly. When they do something wrong, have them do it right. That is how you establish good practices and habits in your classes. Students get the picture quickly.
Rules indicate how students are to behave. An example might be “Show courtesy and respect for others at all times.” Limits specify behavior that will not be allowed. An example would be, “No name-calling in this room.” Authority refers to power that has been assigned to certain individuals. By custom and law, teachers are given legitimate authority to control and direct students in school, and they should use it to set and maintain standards of conduct.
There is no need to ask students if they agree with them. Students are supposed to learn rules, not determine them. Therefore, teach students why we have rules and why they are made by people in positions of authority. Explain your rules to students and take their opinions into account, but don’t pretend they are helping decide what the class rules are to be.
Morrish says insistence is the best strategy for enforcing rules. Punishment is rarely needed. You must be absolutely determined that students will do what you want them to, and you must be willing to persist until they do. You should develop the mindset that once you give an instruction, there is no question about students’ doing what you say. Morrish does not suggest that punishment never be used, but he does point out that punishment does not teach cooperation or responsibility and that it sometimes produces unwanted side effects. However, punishment can do two things well. First, it can teach that “no means no,” a message that students need to learn quickly. Second, punishment can bring misbehavior to a stop when other methods can’t.
in no case are students allowed to ignore your directions. Your word is final.
the main effect (of bargaining) on students is not better choice making, but feeling that everything in the class is decided through bargaining. All that does is give students power in decisions they are not well-prepared to make.
Morrish insists we need to reestablish teacher authority in the classroom, and he reminds teachers where their authority comes from—law, custom, and professionalism. The power of teacher authority comes from teachers’ knowing their responsibilities, knowing why they are setting limits, and knowing what they expect their students to learn. It is conveyed by tone of voice, choice of words, and the way teachers present themselves. Teachers should clearly communicate what they expect of students and then accept nothing less. They should make clear that no negotiation is involved. They do this without threatening or raising their voices. They simply say, with authority in their voice, “This is what you must do. This is the job you are here for. Now let’s get on with it” (1997, p. 65).
If, in this process, students question your authority, tell them, “It is my job.” If they challenge your right to make demands, tell them, “It is my job.” Morrish says not to worry if your students don’t like some of the things you expect them to do. It is respect you need at this point, not appreciation. Appreciation will come later, provided respect comes first.
Phase 2: Teaching Students How to Behave
The second phase in Real Discipline focuses on teaching students the skills, attitudes, and knowledge needed for cooperation, proper behavior, and increased responsibility. In preparation for this phase, you have already established the class rules and have taught them to students through explanation, demonstration, practice, corrective feedback, and repetition. Students understand the need for rules, and they will comply with them if they accept your authority. This process teaches students to be courteous, work and play harmoniously together, resolve conflicts, set personal goals, organize tasks, and manage time. Most teachers erroneously assume students will somehow learn those skills from experience. You can’t wait for experience to teach them these things, even if experience were capable of it.
When students fail to comply with expectations, don’t scold or punish them. Simply have them redo the behavior in an acceptable manner and continue to practice it.
Phase 3: Managing Student Choice
The third phase of Real Discipline is called choice management. It helps students move toward greater independence by offering them more and more choices as they show capability for handling them. One basic requirement in choice making is that students must take into account the needs and rights of other students and school personnel. You must ensure they do so.
“Alana, your work is disorganized and incomplete. I’m not accepting it. Take it back, please, and fix it up. I’ll mark it when it is done properly” (Morrish, 1997, p. 105).
Teachers must make decisions for students like Alana until those students begin to care about quality and completeness. The teacher should never suggest that Alana can choose to do poor work if she wants to. Morrish says this is one area where we truly need to get back to basics, meaning we should expect students to do quality work and accept nothing less. Morrish reiterates: Schools are not democracies. Teachers must be willing to make the decisions that are theirs to make (1997).
self-discipline is not likely to occur in discipline systems where students learn to do what is advantageous rather than what is right.
Then she challenged them to continue behaving that way as she moved farther and farther away.
As students become older and move toward independence, Real Discipline has already taught them three things about making independent choices: First, that independence requires balancing personal rights with personal responsibility; second, that the rights and needs of others must be taken into account; and third, that students should look at every unsupervised situation as an opportunity to demonstrate personal responsibility. Morrish points out that independence isn’t “doing your own thing”: It’s doing what’s right when you are on your own.
Planning and Implementing the Discipline Program
Real Discipline calls on teachers to be proactive, meaning they anticipate problems, keep them from occurring if possible, and prepare carefully for attending to problems that might occur. Morrish (2000) guides teachers through eleven steps in organizing their discipline system:
- Decide in advance how you want your students to behave.Think through matters such as the following: How students will demonstrate courtesy, the words and tone of voice they will use, how they will speak to you, what other signs of courtesy they will show, how they will treat visitors, how they will welcome new students to the class, how they will listen to you and other students, how they will contribute to class discussions, how they will help substitute teachers, what they will do when upset or when they disagree with you or others, how they will respond to other students who need assistance, how they will deal with losing, how they will comply when you tell them what to do, how they will respond when you correct them, and how they will behave when you step out of the room.
- Design the supporting structure.When you have in mind how you want students to behave, design a structure that will support your goals. This structure will consist mostly of procedures, such as how students will enter and exit the room, what they will do if they arrive late, how they will handle completed work, how they will request assistance, what they should do about missed assignments, what they should do if they finish work early, what they should do if the teacher does not appear on time, how they will learn the class rules and enforcement procedures, and what the specific limits on behavior are.
- Establish a threshold for behavior at school.You must not allow students to bring negative behaviors to the class from home and community. You must create a clear separation between school and outside school. Say to students, “You’re now at school. Remember how you behave when you are here.” Then enforce the courtesy, rules, and work habits required in your class.
- Run a two-week training camp.Effective teachers work hard on discipline expectations and procedures during the first two weeks of the year or term. They use this time to establish clear limits, expectations, routines, appropriate behavior, and compliance. Morrish maintains that the investment you make in discipline during these first two weeks determines how the rest of the school year unfolds. This does not suggest you overlook academic work. In the early stages, academic work is a lower priority than proper behavior, but as students acclimate to Real Discipline, academic work moves to highest priority.
- Teach students how to behave appropriately.Morrish believes that students should be taught any skills required for school success, including how to behave in school assemblies, on school buses, and in the school cafeteria. They need to learn how, and why, to dress appropriately for school. They should be taught how to treat new students and be good role models for younger students. In addition, Morrish (2000, pp. 94–103) has articulated “Ten Great Skills” you should teach your students. The skills are presented here in abbreviated form.
- Courtesy.Teach students how to greet others, say “please” and “thank you,” listen when others speak, and acknowledge good effort by others.
- How to treat substitute teachers.Teach students to behave for others just as they would for you. Show them how to welcome visitors and help them.
- Conflict prevention.Help students recognize events that lead up to various troublesome incidents and then problem solve alternative ways of avoiding the conflict. Teach them how to respond to teasing and avoid people and situations that provoke trouble.
- Self-discipline.Work to help your students understand they should make the same behavior decisions when you are not there as when you are present. Talk about various hypothetical behavior situations. Ask how your students would behave if you were there and if they can commit to that same behavior when you are not beside them.
- Concentration.Help students learn to ignore distractions. Give them practice by having them maintain concentration when a student you have selected to help you makes noise or speaks to you.
- Being part of the solution rather than part of the problem.Teach students how to do such things as help classmates with learning, stop someone from teasing, keep students from fighting, and keep the classroom and school grounds neat. Congratulate them when they do those things. When you see them fail to do so, ask them why they didn’t help.
- Thinking about others.Children are self-centered and therefore have to be taught to take others into account. Ask students to try to help someone every day. Periodically call on them to identify others who helped them.
- Perseverance.Students won’t ordinarily persevere at tasks they find difficult or boring, unless strongly influenced to do so. Speak with them about the importance of completing tasks. Have them complete something you assign every day and do not allow them to quit or change tasks.
- Being a good role model for younger students.Students learn many of their behaviors by watching siblings, friends, parents, and teachers. Urge your students to try to make a positive impression on younger students. Ask them to consider the effects of their words, jokes, body language, and conversational topics. Ask them to model compliance with school routines.
- Being a good ambassador for your class and school.Help students understand they are ambassadors for their school and class. When they behave well in public, people notice and conclude the students come from a good school and good family. Ask students to conduct themselves in that manner to bring credit to themselves, the school, and their parents.
- Set the stage for quality instruction.Discipline cannot succeed in an environment where students are coerced to endure boring, tedious lessons and activities. You must make your classes interesting and worthwhile. Ask questions that force students to expand their thinking. Increase the amount of hands-on activities. Make use of group learning activities. Include activities based on sports, music, drama, and crafts. Ask students to make presentations to the class and to younger students. These approaches keep students interested, making it less likely they will behave disruptively.
- Provide active, assertive supervision.Good discipline requires that you take certain steps to forestall misbehavior. Remind students of rules and expectations ahead of time. Remind them of limits that might apply. Be specific and don’t oververbalize. Govern and correct small misbehaviors. Reinforce good social skills when you see them. Move briskly around the classroom. Talk briefly with various students if it does not interrupt their work. Let everyone see your presence. Move with a sense of purpose. Make eye contact with students.
- Enforce rules and expectations.Most teachers believe they should make students aware of unpleasant consequences that accompany misbehavior and use them for warnings and rule enforcement. But neither the warnings nor the consequences themselves are very effective in getting students to conduct themselves properly. Success depends on the teacher’s ability to require good behavior. You must be willing to establish your natural authority and take charge of students. There is no game playing involved. Don’t allow them to decide whether or not to comply with rules. Don’t allow them to call you by your first name, talk back, run around the room, or throw things at each other.
- Teachers worry that some students will confront them over expectations and rule enforcement they don’t like. You can limit that concern by addressing all small infractions such as discourteous language or failure to clean up. When they learn to comply on small matters, they will continue to do so on large matters. Meanwhile, connect with your students on a personal basis. Listen to them and take their concerns into account. Capitalize on their interests. Be understanding and supportive when a student is going through a hard time. Establish rapport, but combine it with insistence.
- Focus on prevention.Real Discipline goes to lengths to prevent misbehavior. Discipline isn’t as much what you do when students misbehave as it is what you do in advance so they won’t misbehave. Use the suggestions presented earlier for making classes interesting and engaging. Do not allow verbal put-downs in your classes. Discuss potential behavior situations with students and devise ways of avoiding the problems.
- Set high standards.In Real Discipline, underachievement is not a student choice. You must make it clear you will not accept underachievement in any form, whether academic or social. When students do something inadequately or improperly, have them do it over again. Challenge your students and get them excited about improving everything they do in school.
- Treat parents as partners.Keep parents informed about serious incidents and repetitive misbehavior involving their child, but don’t worry them with minor matters—take care of those yourself. When you need to communicate with parents, do so personally if possible. Don’t send notes. Suggest ways they might help the student do better in school, but never suggest punishment. Talk with parents, not down to them. Reassure them that you and they both want success for their child and that you want to work together with them to make that happen.
Developing Teacher–Student Relationships
- Consistently focus on the positive.Look for things students do right, rather than things they do wrong. Show a genuine sense of understanding when they make mistakes and, in a positive manner, help them improve. It is much better to help than criticize.
- Wipe the slate clean after students make mistakes.Deal with the mistake in a positive manner and move on. Don’t hold grudges; they don’t help in any way. The important thing is what the student does now.
- Don’t back away from discipline.Students don’t often say they appreciate discipline. They don’t like having to obey rules, and they don’t enjoy practicing appropriate behavior. Nevertheless, they understand discipline is a teacher role and they expect it. They interpret the time and effort you expend as signs of concern for them, and later they will remember you with appreciation.
- Lead the way.Students learn more from watching you than from hearing what you say. Model civilized behaviors and attitudes. Listen to students. Speak kindly to them. Be helpful and give credit when it is due.
- Never humiliate students when correcting their misbehavior.Morrish says teachers unintentionally use humiliation more than they imagine, as when they scold students in front of their friends or display work to show how it could have been done better. Whenever students need to be corrected, show them how to behave properly and have them practice until the behavior become habitual.
- Don’t accept mediocrity.Some teachers fail to set sustainable standards of learning and behavior, believing they need only to befriend students in order to obtain their cooperation. Standards are essential if students are to recognize success and maintain their determination to improve. If you willingly accept mediocrity, that is what you will get. Reasonable standards tell students you believe they are bright and sensitive enough to learn and behave properly.
Consequences in Real Discipline
Morrish believes that consequences, when structured and applied correctly, are very helpful in teaching students how to conduct themselves properly. But the consequences he advocates are not punishments. Instead, they involve teaching proper behavior and having students practice that behavior. When students speak discourteously, the consequence is for them to stop and speak again in a proper manner. Consequences are also applied when a student continues to push the boundary of acceptable behavior. In that event, apply a consequence that stops the behavior. You need to get across the idea that “no means no.”
Morrish says you should explain to your students why consequences are applied when they misbehave and that those consequences are designed to help them learn.
About Motivation and Rewards
To the extent you can make instructional activities interesting, do so, and everyone will enjoy school more, including you. But when that is not possible, don’t shy away from teaching students what they need to know, even when lessons are tedious.
Morrish also advises teachers to forego praise and reward when students merely do what is expected of them. He says occasional rewards are fine, because they give special recognition when it is needed. But overall, rewards are vastly overused and students often see them as ends in themselves. Teachers have two powerful natural rewards at their disposal, but they are not stickers, points, or special privileges. Rather, they are what you always have with you—your personal attention and approval.
Teachers these days also dispense copious quantities of praise. Morrish says some of them really spread it on thick. But we must be cautious about that, too. Beyond a certain point, praise actually reduces motivation while increasing dependency. Students develop healthier attitudes when teachers praise work and behavior only when they deserve recognition.
Don’t Promote Self-Indulgence
self-esteem does not determine success or failure. It is the other way around, he says—success in school or lack thereof influences self-esteem.
teachers who try to build student self-esteem directly may actually do more harm than good, especially if they never allow failure, never put pressure on students to excel, and permit students to express themselves freely without fear of rebuke. These things remove students from the helpful criticism that normally follows serious misbehavior, and as a result, students become more self-indulgent. They gradually lose their sense of shame and begin to rationalize their misdeeds with explanations such as “I just felt like it. It made me feel good.” As Morrish puts it,
In the real world, the most likely result of attempting to raise self-esteem directly is that children will feel much better about themselves while they continue to misbehave.
Genuine self-esteem does not grow in students who are allowed to do as they please. Rather, it comes from increased competence in academic and social matters and the ability to overcome obstacles. If we teach students academic and social skills, if we hold high expectations for them, we will see them come to think well of themselves, based on the reality of positive competence. The real hallmark of self-esteem is one’s balanced view of personal competence in relation to the surrounding world. (1997, p. 121)
When Students Fail to Comply
Many teachers, if the infraction is serious enough, will send the offending student to time-out for an indefinite period before allowing the student to rejoin the class. That does nothing positive for the student. Instead of time-out or some other consequence, you should insist on a do-over. Have the student repeat the behavior in an acceptable manner. If a student speaks to you disrespectfully, tell him or her to start over and do it courteously this time. The same procedure applies any time a student fails to follow directions or comply with class standards.
Many teachers make the mistake of using if–then statements, such as, “If you speak to me in that manner again, then you will be going to the principal’s office.” Teachers should not use such statements with misbehaving students. They should give students no choice in the matter. They should say, “We don’t speak that way in this class. Start over.” Most of the time, that is all you need to do. Remember, your most important and powerful tool is insistence. You must convey to students they have no choice in the matter, other than to do as you instruct. Morrish says that students who are never required to act appropriately seldom will.
If a student still refuses to do as you direct, repeat your instruction in a serious tone of voice. If that doesn’t work, use a mild punishment such as time-out to get across the message that you mean what you say. Then after a short time, bring the student back to the task correctly. The discipline procedure does not end with the time-out. The student is still expected to show proper behavior. Only positive practice ensures that. Morrish says that most of the time punishment is unnecessary—we only need to have students redo their behavior correctly.
Summary Rubric: Applying Real Discipline in the Classroom
- Real Discipline is a process that leads to cooperative and responsible behavior. It takes time. There are no shortcuts.
- From the beginning, communicate to your students that you are committed to providing a classroom in which they can learn easily, without threat or put-downs, and where teacher and students alike courteously and willingly do the jobs expected of them.
- Tell students about duties in the class—what your job is and what their job is. You might wish to explain that your job is to provide a quality learning environment, teach students the best you can, and treat everyone with respect and courtesy, while their job is to follow your directions, do the best they can to learn, and treat everyone with respect and courtesy.
- Make it plain that you will steadfastly help students make the most of their opportunities to learn. Inform them, using examples, why it is necessary they follow your directions, every time. Show them how you will teach directions for simple activities such as beginning work when entering the classroom and handing in homework or class assignments.
- Project an image of friendly authority as you introduce the rules of behavior for the class. Discuss the rules thoroughly and make sure students understand how rules help everyone learn things they need to know in life. Tell the students you will insist they follow the rules, but you will teach them how to do so and always help them. Follow through and have students practice proper behavior.
- During the first days of school, ask in advance if students remember the rules for beginning work, having only school materials on their desks, and so forth.
Chapter 6: How Do Harry and Rosemary Wong Use Responsibilities and Procedures to Establish Class Discipline?
The Wongs get their points across through pithy aphorisms, such as the following:
- The main problem in teaching is not poor discipline, but poor classroom management.
- Responsibilities clarify what everyone is supposed to do.
- Effective teachers spend most of the first two weeks teaching students to follow classroom procedures.
- What you do on the first day of school determines your success for the rest of the year.
About Roles and Responsibilities
Help students understand your responsibilities and their responsibilities in the classroom. The following example, appropriate for secondary classes, appears on the cover of The First Days of School (2004b):
- My Responsibilities as Your Teacher
- To treat you with respect and care as an individual.
- To provide you an orderly classroom environment.
- To provide the necessary discipline.
- To provide the appropriate motivation.
- To teach you the required content.
- Your Responsibilities as My Students
- To treat me with respect and care as an individual.
- To attend classes regularly.
- To be cooperative and not disruptive.
- To study and do your work well.
- To learn and master the required content.
About Classrooms and Procedures
- The single most important factor governing student learning is not discipline; it is how a teacher manages a classroom.
- Your classroom need not be chaos; it can be a smoothly functioning learning environment.
- A well-managed classroom is task oriented and predictable.
- Ineffective teachers begin the first day of school attempting to teach a subject. They then spend the rest of the school year running after students.
- Effective teachers spend most of the first two weeks of the school year teaching students to follow classroom procedures so that students are better able to learn.
- What is done on the first day of school or a class—even the first few minutes—can make or break a teacher.
- The very first day, the very first minute, the very first second of school, teachers should begin to establish a structure of procedures and routines for the class.
- School is where students go to learn how to be productive citizens and reach their potential as human beings.
- School should be challenging, exciting, engrossing, and thought provoking, but it must have structure to ensure success.
- You cannot give students self-esteem, but you can ensure they find success in school.
- Teaching is a craft—a highly skilled craft that can be learned.
- By far the most important factor in school learning is the ability of the teacher. The more capable the teacher, the more successful the student.
- Good teachers enhance the life and spirit of the students they teach.
- Stop asking, “What am I supposed to do?” Start asking, “What must I know that will help me accomplish what I need to do?”
- What you do on the first day of school determines your success for the rest of the year.
- Start class immediately. Do not take roll until later.
- Learning is often most effective when it takes place in a supportive community of learners.
- The more students work together responsibly, the more they learn.
- Short assignments produce higher student achievement.
- Intersperse questions throughout a lesson. Ask a question after you have spoken a few sentences rather than many. By doing so, you significantly increase student learning and retention.
- Students usually learn more from an activity-question approach than from a textbook-lecture approach.
- Teachers go through four stages of development—fantasy, survival, mastery, and impact. Good management moves you quickly from fantasy to mastery.
- You can have your achievements or you can have your excuses.
- Those who teach well never cease to learn.
About Testing and Evaluation
- If a student cannot demonstrate learning or achievement, it is the teacher’s fault, not the student’s.
- Use criterion-referenced tests to evaluate student performance.
- The more frequent the tests, the higher the achievement.
- Grade on what is learned, not on the curve—a procedure that has done great harm.
- Classroom rules indicate the behavior you expect from students. In order to provide a safe and effective learning environment, establish and enforce appropriate rules.
- Rules of behavior set limits, just as do rules in games. They create a work-oriented atmosphere in the classroom.
- Behavior associated with rules must be taught through discussion, demonstration, and practice.
- Consequences should be attached to rules—positive consequences for compliance and negative consequences (not punishment) for noncompliance.
- Explain your discipline plan (rules and consequences) to students on the first day of school.
About the First Day of Class
- Have your classroom ready for instruction and make it inviting.
- Organize your classroom with a script.
- Stand at the door and greet students as they enter.
- Give each student a seating assignment and a seating chart.
- Position yourself in the room near the students. Problems are proportional to distance.
- Post an assignment in a consistent location for students to begin when they enter the room.
- Display your diploma and credentials with pride. Dress in a professional manner that models success and shows you expect achievement.
About the First Week of Teaching
- The two most important things you must teach the first week of school are discipline and procedures.
- Explain your discipline plan to students and put it in effect immediately.
- State your procedures and begin rehearsing them until they become automatic.
A Discipline Plan
Although this chapter focuses on the management of procedures, the Wongs remind us that even with good management teachers need a discipline approach that contains rules and consequences. They suggest you clarify that approach with students on the first day of school. They have found that most teachers want to begin teaching lessons before discipline and routines are addressed. When misbehavior occurs, those teachers apply punitive measures that are counterproductive. Without a discipline plan that begins the first day of school, you are setting yourself up for failure.
The Wongs are not particular about the discipline plan you use, other than to say that you should (1) develop one that is suited to your requirements and your students’ needs, and (2) make sure it includes rules of behavior, procedures for teaching those rules, and consequences that are applied when students comply with or break rule
Introduce the rules on the first day of class and post them in a prominent place. The Wongs suggest introducing them as follows, using your own language and explanations:
“The rules for our class are to help you learn in a classroom that is safe and effective. They help make sure that nothing will keep you from being successful in this class.
We will be working together closely. We need to keep this classroom a place where you will never have fear of being ridiculed or threatened. Because I care about all of you and want you to succeed, I will not allow anyone to do anything that will interfere with someone who is trying to learn.
In the same way, my job is to teach you and help you be successful, so I will not allow you to do anything that will interfere with my teaching and our group success and enjoyment.
So that I can teach and all of us can learn in the best possible conditions, I have a set of rules that help make this classroom safe, orderly, and productive. I’d like to explain these rules to you so you understand clearly what they mean and how I will enforce them.”
Procedures and What They Entail
Student behavior and student achievement are directly related to how well teachers establish good, workable classroom procedures, beginning the very first day. Students accept and appreciate uniform procedures that provide security while minimizing confusion. Lacking those procedures, students are likely to behave undesirably and develop poor work habits that are difficult to correct.
Good procedures allow a great variety of activities to occur, often several at the same time, with little confusion. But you have to teach students the procedures, not just talk about them. The Wongs suggest a three-step method for teaching procedures:
- Explain.The teacher states, explains, and demonstrates the procedure.
- Rehearse.The students practice the procedure under teacher supervision.
- Reinforce.The teacher provides re-teaching, rehearsal, and reinforcement until the procedures become habituated.
(what are my procedures and how will i TEACH THEM?)
The First Day of School
The Wongs suggest you carefully plan your first day of class or school in detail. They describe how art teacher Melissa Pantoja attends to this task (see Wong and Wong, 2000c). They liken Mrs. Pantoja to a coach who scripts the first 25 plays of a game. They say a teacher should not “wing it” in a classroom any more than a coach would wing it on a football field or a pilot would wing it on a flight from Baltimore to Kansas City. The effective teacher goes in with a plan and modifies that plan if conditions change. Here is Mrs. Pantoja’s plan for the first day.
- Greet Each Student at the Door
- Hand each student a classroom rules sheet (goes in notebook)
- Direct the student to his or her assigned seat (alphabetical)
- Tell the student to read and follow the instructions that are written on the board
- Welcome Students to Class and Introduce Myself
- My name
- My family (spouse, kids)
- Where I’m from and where I live
- Why I wanted to teach
- Arriving and Leaving Class
- Teach procedure for arriving in class
- Teach procedure for dismissal from class
- Explain Rules and Daily Procedures
- Refer to the rules that are posted at front
- Explain discipline plan and refer to poster
- Go over procedures and refer to poster
- Talk about “We missed you” chart
- Number Assignments
- Each person will have a number that represents them
- The number will be on all of their art papers and on their art folder
- This will help all of us to keep our papers straight
- Respecting the Classroom and the Art Supplies
- Refer to classroom rules and procedures
- Teach students to be responsible for the art supplies and room
- Teacher’s Things and Students’ Things
- Some things are only for me
- Other things are for you to use as you need them
- Art Centers
- Everyone will get a chance to go to all the centers
- Art center board will have names (numbers) that tell us who does what that day
- Each student will be taking a portfolio home
- Papers will be filed in a container until end of semester
- Used for individual students to record their grades and keep track of them
- To store vocabulary words for future use
- To write a weekly journal entry about what they liked most about the week’s lesson
Procedures for Cooperative Work Groups
Generally speaking, most students do better in school when allowed to work in cooperative learning groups. The Wongs suggest that you call your cooperative groups support groups, with each member of the group known as a support buddy.
Children need lots of support. Instead of isolating them with seat work, surround them with support buddies and teach them how to support each other. It is important that each student in the group have a specific job to do. Group procedures must be taught clearly. Ineffective teachers divide students into groups and simply expect the students to work together. Effective teachers teach the group procedures and social skills needed for functioning in a group. Before you begin your first group activity, teach students how to do the following:
- Be responsible for your own work and behavior.
- Ask a support buddy for help if you have a question.
- Help any support buddy who asks for help.
- Ask for help from the teacher only when support buddies cannot supply it.
For further detailed information on how to work with groups, consult Chapter 24 in The First Days of School (Wong and Wong, 2004b).
A Word to Secondary Teachers
Secondary teachers sometimes comment that the Wongs’ suggestions appear to be too elementary for use in high school, but the Wongs emphasize that their approach works quite well at the high school level. Their website includes testimonials from secondary teachers, many of whom assert that the Wongs’ suggestions actually saved their professional careers.
For example, Chelonnda Seroyer (see http://teachers.net/wong/FEB05), a first-year teacher, used the Wongs’ ideas as the basis for managing her class and had a very successful year academically. In addition, she was senior class sponsor, homecoming parade assistant, and a member of the support team for the school’s efforts related to the No Child Left Behind Act. For her efforts she received the Bob Jones High School “First Year Patriot Award,” which is given to the first-year teacher who is recognized for outstanding accomplishments and achievements in academics, athletics, or co-curricular pursuits.
Jeff Smith (see http://teachers.net/wong/APR04) teaches welding at a Career Tech Center in Pryor, Oklahoma. He was almost fired during his first year because of his poor classroom management skills, but happened to hear one of the Wongs’ tapes and wrote to say, “You saved my job, and someday I want to help other beginning teachers just like you helped me.” Jeff now holds the state record for the most Career Tech students certified under the industry standard welding certification. His former students have the highest pay average for high school graduates in the state. He reports that he always knew his subject matter, but had no clue about classroom management until he encountered the Wongs’ ideas.
Ed Lucero (see http://teachers.net/wong/MAR05) teaches high school business, marketing, and finance in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He writes, “Last year was my eleventh year of teaching. I was miserable! Students weren’t paying attention. I constantly repeated myself. Students would ignore my instructions and at times talk back. Some students would attempt to call me ‘bro’ instead of Mr. Lucero.” Ed decided if things did not improve, he would leave teaching and return to public accounting. His wife suggested he read the Wongs’ The First Days of School: How to Become an Effective Teacher. He spent the summer studying their suggestions and when the next school year began he was able to implement them and as a result enjoy the pleasures of teaching.
Summary Rubric: Applying the Wongs’ Suggestions in the Classroom
- Take to heart the Wongs’ suggestions for organizing a classroom that promotes learning and proper behavior.
- Go through the Wongs’ suggestions for the multitude of procedures that come into play every day in the classroom. Decide how you will teach those procedures to your students and what you will do when students fail to follow the required procedures.
- Per the Wongs’ suggestions, script in detail the first five minutes, the first day, and the first 10 days of your new semester or year.
- Beginning on the first day of school, take pains to help students clearly understand your responsibilities, their responsibilities, the discipline plan, and how the class is to function.
- Through the term or year, continue to practice procedures until they become habituated routines that students are able to follow automatically.
Chapter 7: How Does Fred Jones Establish Class Discipline by Keeping Students Responsibly Involved?
Jones determined that many desirable results accrued from that combination of learning and responsibility—better self-control, less misbehavior, more positive attitudes, and reduction in teacher workload and stress.
Massive Time Wasting
the huge amount of time students wasted in school simply talking, goofing off, daydreaming, and moving about the room – present during about 95 percent of the classroom disruptions that hindered teaching and learning. Jones found that in well-managed classrooms, one of those disruptions occurred about every two minutes. In loud, unruly classes the disruptions averaged about 2.5 per minute. In attempting to deal with the disruptive misbehaviors, teachers lost an average of almost 50 percent of the time otherwise available for teaching and learning (Jones, 1987a). Jones found that typical classes, on average, did not get down to business until five to seven minutes after the bell rang, while typical in-class transitions from one activity to another took five minutes. In both cases, students, whom Jones describes as expert time wasters, took advantage of the opportunity to dawdle. As Jones put it, they had no vested interest in hustle. They knew that as soon as the transition was over they would have to go back to work, and they were in no hurry for that.
could best be reduced by clearly communicating class requirements to students and following through with class rules, establishing and practicing routines, increasing student motivation to engage in activities, and using effective ways of providing help to students who needed it.
Jones also found that students in typical classes were passive rather than active most of the time. They often disengaged from lessons and found more interesting things to do. Their passivity was brought on in large measure by the teaching method being used in most classes, which did not require students to participate actively or show accountability in the early phases of lessons.
The standards in any classroom, he says, are defined by whatever the students can get away with. If teachers do not take the time to teach expectations and procedures carefully—and if they fail to ensure compliance with those expectations—they will invariably get whatever the students feel like giving them.
every day. When hands went up, the teachers would begin chasing from student to student, repeating the same information they had tried so hard to provide earlier in the lesson.
Jones’s observations revealed that many teachers spend a great deal of time nagging students—telling them over and over what they ought to be doing and to stop doing what they shouldn’t be doing. Jones calls their behavior the nag-nag-nag syndrome, which many teachers use even though experience has repeatedly shown them it doesn’t work.
Jones makes it plain to teachers—and wants teachers to make it plain to students—that the purpose of discipline is to help students engage enjoyably in learning.
Jones’s Interior Loop Seating Arrangement
This arrangement makes it easier for teachers to maintain physical proximity with all students. Jones says proximity is essential for teachers to practice working the crowd, by which he means moving about; interacting with students; and using occasional pauses, looks, or slow turns when necessary. These tactics help keep students attentive and actively involved.
general (few) define the teacher’s broad guidelines, standards, and expectations for work and behavior. They should be posted and reviewed periodically.
Specific rules relate to procedures and routines. They detail exactly what students are to do in various learning activities and how they are to do it. These specific rules must be taught and rehearsed until they are learned like any academic skill. Jones advocates spending the first two weeks making sure students understand them thoroughly.
Jones believes in assigning a classroom chore to every student, if possible. This helps students develop a sense of personal responsibility and ownership in the class program.
Jones would have students sit down and begin doing bell work immediately on entering the room. Bell work engages students and focuses attention on an important lesson to follow. No active instruction is required. Examples of bell work are answering review questions, doing warm-up problems, solving brain teasers, doing silent reading, and writing in journals.
Clearly Communicate They Mean Business
Earlier we saw Jones’s contention that many teachers do not know how to show they mean business. They have no specific tactic for doing so other than nagging, which is notably ineffective. Jones suggests a strategy he calls meaning business, which is conveyed nonverbally as body language involving bodily carriage, eye contact, and tone of voice. Meaning business does away with most of the student back talk and argumentation. It is not only effective, but also low key and nonadversarial, and it increases learning opportunities for those who need it most
When you open your mouth, you often do more harm than good. Here are further recommendations Jones makes concerning body language.
Place Clearly Defined Limits on Behavior
Setting limits clarifies the line that separates acceptable behavior from unacceptable behavior. It is typically established through class rules and how teachers enforce them.
Jones noted that some teachers take two deep breaths before turning to a misbehaving student.
Jones says few physical acts are more effective than eye contact for conveying the impression of being in control.
Jones observed that teachers who use physical proximity rarely need to say anything to the offending students to get them to behave.
Effective teachers, even when tired or troubled, know to stand tall and move assertively.
Teachers’ facial expressions communicate a great deal. They can show enthusiasm, seriousness, enjoyment, and appreciation, all of which encourage good behavior; or they can reveal boredom, annoyance, and resignation, which may prompt lethargy or misbehavior among students.
In addition, you should discuss the backup systems you will turn to when students misbehave seriously and refuse to comply with rules or your requests. You must recognize that class rules are meaningless unless you have the power to enforce them. Usually, you can limit misbehavior in a benign manner by using proximity, body language, and personal interest. But there will be times when those tactics fail to cause misbehaving students to comply with the rules. When that happens, you can tell the offending student, “If you are not going to do your work, you may sit there quietly but I cannot let you bother others.” And for yet more serious defiance or aggression, you must have a plan for isolating the student or calling for help as needed. These more forceful backup systems should be described plainly to students and also reviewed and approved by your site administrator in advance.
Teacher input→Student output→Teacher input→Student output→Teacher input→Student output
This approach—used during the first part of the lesson—becomes even more effective when augmented with visual instructional plans (VIPs) that come into play during the second part of the lesson, when students are asked to work on their own. VIPs are graphic or picture prompts that students use a guides for completing processes or activities. VIPs are displayed in the room, and students are taught to consult them for guidance instead of raising their hands and waiting for the teacher when they get stuck.
Figure 7.2 Summary Graphic
Source: Adapted from Jones, F. 2007. Tools for Teaching. Santa Cruz, CA: Fredric H. Jones & Associates.
Now, Jones says, imagine the helpless handraiser during independent work, stuck on step four. What does the student do? Step four is not evident in this graphic. Our typical technique of laying one step over another produces only a single summary graphic. The helpless handraiser will now call for help and do nothing until the teacher arrives to provide yet another tutoring session. Jones’s remedy is to provide a graphic that shows one step at a time and a picture for every step. Such plans are easy for students to consult and follow, allowing them to continue working on their own. See Figure 7.3 for a guide to helping students who forget the steps in long division.
Figure 7.3 Step-by-Step Graphic
Increase Student Motivation and Responsibility through Judicious Use of Incentives
An incentive is a proffered condition that prompts an individual to act.
Point out that your incentives will all have instructional value. You won’t use any that are simply for play or filling in time. Explain also that incentives conserve time by helping students work expeditiously rather than fool around. The saved time is then returned to the students in the form of preferred activity time (PAT).
Jones argues that when incentives are provided for cooperation, students see they have something to gain by it. At first they may cooperate primarily to obtain the incentive bonus, but over time, cooperation becomes habituated and enjoyable in itself.
students respond well to the anticipation of activities such as art, games for learning or review, viewing a video, or having time to pursue personal interests with friends. Such group activities are effective because almost all students desire them sufficiently to make extra effort to obtain them and they are available to all students, not just a few.
Tangible objects, awards, and certificates should not be used as incentives. They do not motivate students highly, nor do they have educational value.
Earning Preferred Activity Time
PAT may be earned in a number of different ways. Mr. Jorgensen gives his fourth graders three minutes to put away their language arts materials and prepare for math. Any time left over from the three minutes goes later to PAT. In Mrs. Nguyen’s English class, if everyone is seated and ready when the bell rings, the class earns two additional minutes of PAT. However, if some or all of the class continues to be noisy, the class loses the amount of PAT they have wasted. Some classes use PAT on the day it is earned, while others accumulate PAT for a future activity. In some instances, PAT may be earned as individual bonuses. When Mickey continues to be unprepared and consequently loses PAT for the class, Mr. Duncan organizes an individual approach for Mickey—if he misbehaves the class is not penalized, but if he conducts himself properly he can earn PAT for the entire class. This arrangement improves Mickey’s status with peers and influences him to behave in an appropriate manner.
In PAT, students are never left to do just anything, nor do they proceed without guidance. The freedom they enjoy lies in being able to choose from a variety of approved activities. Activities can be chosen by vote, with all students engaging in the same activity during the time allotted. Elementary school students often select physical education, art, music, drama, construction activities, or being read to by the teacher. Secondary students often choose to watch a video, hold class discussions on special topics, participate in performances by class members, or work together on projects such as a class magazine. JoLynne Talbott Jones posts on the Jones website (www.fredjones.com) suggestions from teachers for a large number of educationally sound activities that serve very well as preferred activities.
The teacher keeps track of the time that students earn. Of course, it is possible that a single student, by misbehaving, can prevent the class from earning full PAT. Teachers often think it unfair to penalize the entire class when only a few have transgressed. In practice this is rarely a problem, because the class quickly understands that this is a group effort, not an individual one. The group is rewarded together and punished together regardless of who misbehaves. A strength of this approach is that it engenders peer pressure against misbehavior. Ordinarily a misbehaving student obtains reinforcement from the group in the form of attention or laughter. With proper PAT, the opposite is true. The class is likely to discourage individual misbehavior because it takes away something the class members want.
omission training is useful in earning PAT for the entire class:
Kevin is a student in Ms. VanEtten’s class. He disregards the requirements of PAT and is continually late, loud, and unprepared, thus ruining PAT for the others. Ms. VanEtten privately explains to Kevin that he doesn’t have to participate in PAT, since he doesn’t care about it, but she does want him to be successful with his own work and behavior. She explains that she will use a timer, and when Kevin behaves in accordance with class rules, he will earn time for himself, and also PAT for the class. When he misbehaves, he loses time for himself but not for the class.
As a last option for students who subvert PAT, Jones suggests backup systems, which are hierarchical arrangements of sanctions for putting a stop to unacceptable student behavior. Jones identifies three levels of backup:
- Small backup responses, conveyed privately or semi-privately to the student: “I expect you to stop talking so we can get on with our work.” With such low-keyed messages the student knows the teacher means business. Whispering privately is a constructive way of protecting student dignity.
- Medium backup responses, delivered publicly in the classroom: “Emily, sit in the thinking chair for three minutes and think about what you have done that caused me to send you there.” Or, “Brian, you are late again. You’ll have detention with me tomorrow after school.” Other medium backup responses include warnings, reprimands, loss of privilege, and parent conferences.
- Large backup responses are used to deal with repeated disruptions or other intolerable behavior. They require involvement of at least two professionals, usually the teacher and an administrator. They involve trips to the office, in-school or out-of-school suspension, and occasionally placement in special classes or special schools.
Provide Help Efficiently during Independent Work
As we have seen, Jones puts particular emphasis on how teachers should provide help to students who get stuck during seat work. Suppose Mrs. James is teaching a lesson in determining percentages. She illustrates at the board by showing how to calculate 4 percent of three different amounts, asks a couple of questions to verify that students are understanding, and then assigns independent exercises for students to calculate a number of percentages ranging from 5 percent to 120 percent. Almost immediately, Arnell raises his hand for help. If he were the only one, there would be little problem. But Mrs. James sees other hands began to wave, as well. She knows most of those students will sit doing nothing productive while waiting for her.
In his research, Jones asked teachers how much time they thought they spent, on average, when providing help to individuals who raised their hands. The teachers felt that they spent from one to two minutes with each student, but when Jones’s researchers timed the episodes, they found that teachers actually spent around four minutes with each student. The amount of time consumed made it impossible for the teacher to attend to more than a few students during the work period. Even if the teacher spent only one minute per contact, several minutes would pass while some students sat and waited.
Jones’s research led him to conclude that independent seat work is especially susceptible to four problems: (1) wasted time, (2) insufficient time for teachers to answer all requests for help, (3) high potential for misbehavior, and (4) perpetuation of student dependency on the teacher. Jones determined that all four could be resolved if teachers learned to provide help efficiently, as follows.
First, organize the classroom seating so that all students can be reached quickly. Without that, teachers expend far too much time and energy moving to students who call for help. The interior loop seating arrangement previously described is suggested because it allows easy movement in the room.
Second, use visual instructional plans, which as we noted are graphic reminders displayed in the room that provide clear examples and step-by-step instructions for students to consult. The VIPs show such things as steps in algorithms, the proper form for business letters, directions for independent work, and the like. The reminders are posted where students can see them and thus continue on their own without needing to call for the teacher.
Third, minimize the time used for giving help to students. To see how this can be accomplished, consider that teachers normally give help through an inefficient questioning tutorial, in which the teacher poses questions and makes comments similar to the following:
“What’s the problem?”
“All right, what did we say was the first thing to do?” [Waits; repeats question.]
“No, that was the second. You are forgetting the first step. What was it? Think again.” [Waits until student finally makes a guess.]
“No, let me help you with another example. Suppose …”
In this manner the teacher often re-teaches the concept or process to each student who requests help. Four minutes can be spent very easily in each interaction. In place of these tutorials, Jones trains teachers to give help in 20 seconds or less, with an optimal goal of 10 seconds. If the VIP does not help a student know what to do next, Jones would have teachers do the following when arriving beside the student:
- (Optional for initial contact) Quickly find anything that the student has done correctly and mention it favorably: “Your work is very neat” or “Good job up to here.”
- Give a straightforward prompt that will get the student going: “Follow step two on the graphic” or “Regroup here.” Jones also recommends that, instead of tutoring students through the whole exercise, teachers should prompt students to ask themselves, “What do I do next?”
- Leave immediately. Don’t stay to see if students follow the prompt you have given.
Help provided in this way solves the problems that so often plague teachers during independent work. Students waste little time waiting for the teacher, and students who need help can receive proper attention. Rapid circulation by the teacher also permits better monitoring of work being done by students who do not raise their hands. When errors are noted in those students’ work, the teacher should provide help just as for students who have raised their hands.
In summary, Jones provides a number of tactics that enable teachers to work as effectively and efficiently as the “natural teachers” he studied. The tactics can help students learn more easily; develop self-control; and exhibit positive attitudes, responsibility, and consideration for others. Jones has designed his tactics so they can be used easily—they do not tire teachers out.
Jones’s Study Group Activity
Jones makes available a free Study Group Activity Guide that can be downloaded from his website.
Chapter 8: How Does William Glasser Use Choice Theory and Quality Education to Establish Class Discipline?
Psychiatrist William Glasser, one of the greatest educational thinkers of our time, contends that behavior in school will not improve until we change the way we work with students. It has become clear, he says, that trying to force students to learn or behave responsibly is hopeless. Schools would do far better if they emphasized three things that have been shown to produce the results we want: (1) provide a curriculum that is genuinely attractive to students, (2) use noncoercive discipline to help students make responsible choices that lead to personal success, and (3) strongly emphasize quality in all aspects of teaching and learning.
Glasser’s experience has convinced him that students will not willingly engage in schoolwork unless it offers interesting activities that meet their basic needs for security, belonging, power, fun, and freedom—needs, he says, that cannot be suppressed because they are built into the human genetic code. All of us continually make choices to try to meet these needs. Some of the behavior we choose leads to success, other choices lead to trouble or failure. A major role of teachers is to help students make the behavior choices that lead to proper behavior and high-quality learning.
Reality Therapy: A New Approach to Psychiatry (1965) he made the assertion that all students choose to behave as they do. They are not victims of circumstances and are not being forced to do anything against their will. But they can improve the behavioral choices they make and improve their lives accordingly.
Control Theory in the Classroom, which provided new insights into effective ways of teaching students. In that book he made two foundational assertions, based on his observations over time. The first was his strong reiteration that we cannot control anyone besides ourselves. We cannot “make” students do anything, but we can influence them to do things that lead to better behavior and increased success. His second assertion was that we simply cannot expect students to work and behave properly in school unless they “believe that if they do some work, they will be able to satisfy their needs enough so that it makes sense to keep working” (1986, p. 15). That means it is up to teachers to make school adequately interesting and otherwise satisfying to students’ needs.
We can summarize Glasser’s contentions as follows: Human behavior is purposeful. It is motivated internally and chosen by the individual. It represents our best attempt to satisfy one or more of five basic needs built into our genetic structure. We make what we believe to be the best behavior choices we can, given the information we have. We are responsible for our own behavior. All students can do competent work and some quality work in school. Effective discipline and motivation go hand in hand with helping students meet their needs for survival, belonging, freedom, fun, and power.
His solution is to offer instruction in a form that influences students to do high-quality schoolwork. Nothing less, he says, will suffice.
Students…tell Glasser that the problem with schoolwork is not that it is too difficult, but that it is too boring. For Glasser, this is another way of saying that schoolwork does not meet students’ psychological needs.
Meeting Students’ Needs
survival needs are met when the school environment is kept safe and free from personal threat.
Students sensebelonging when they receive attention from the teacher and others and participate actively in class concerns.
They sense power when the teacher asks them to participate in making decisions about topics to be studied and procedures for working in class, or assigns them responsibility for class duties, such as helping take attendance, caring for class animals, helping distribute and take care of materials, being in charge of media equipment, and so forth.
Students experience fun when they are able to work and talk with others, engage in interesting activities, and share their accomplishments.
Finally, they sense freedom when the teacher allows them to make responsible choices concerning what they will study, how they will do so, and how they will demonstrate their accomplishments. Glasser frequently mentions the value of cooperative learning teams in helping students meet their basic needs
Glasser recognizes it is difficult for teachers to change their teaching style, but nevertheless urges them to work toward the following:
- Provide a warm, supportive classroom climate.This is done by helping students know and like you. Use natural occasions over time to tell students who you are, what you stand for, what you will ask them to do, what you will not ask them to do, what you will do for them, and what you will not do for them. Show that you are always willing to help.
- Use lead teaching rather than boss teaching.This means using methods that encourage students and draw them out, rather than trying to force information into them. (This idea is explained further in the next section.)
- Ask students only to do work that is useful.Useful work consists of knowledge and skills that students will make use of in their lives. At times teachers may have to point out the value of the new learnings, but if that value doesn’t become quickly evident to students, they will not make a sustained effort to learn. Information to be taught and learned should meet one or more of the following criteria:
- The information is directly related to an important skill.
- The information is something that students express a desire to learn.
- The information is something the teacher believes especially useful.
- The information is required for college entrance exams.
- Always ask students to do the best they can.The process of doing quality work occurs slowly and must be nurtured. Glasser suggests that a focus on quality can be initiated as follows:
- Discuss quality work so that students understand what it means.
- Begin with an assignment that is clearly important enough for students to want do well.
- Ask students to do their best work on the assignment. Do not grade their work, because grades suggest to students that the work is finished.
- Ask students to evaluate work they have done and improve it.Quality usually comes from modifications made through continued effort. Glasser suggests that when students feel they have completed a piece of work on a topic they consider important, the teacher should help them make value judgments about it, as follows:
- Ask students to explain why they feel their work has high quality.
- Ask students how they think they might improve their work further. As students see the value of improving their work, higher quality will result naturally.
- Progressively help students learn to use self-evaluation, improvement, and repetition, or SIR, until quality is achieved.
- Help students recognize that doing quality work makes them feel good.This effect will occur naturally as students learn to do quality work.
- There is no better human feeling than that which comes from the satisfaction of doing something useful that you believe is the very best you can do and finding that others agree. As students begin to sense this feeling, they will want more of it. (Glasser, 1993, p. 25)
- Help students see that quality work is never destructive to oneself, others, or the environment.Teachers should help students realize that it is not possible to achieve the good feeling of quality work if their efforts harm people, property, the environment, or other creatures.
Lead teachers realize that genuine motivation to learn resides within students, in the form of needs and interests, and must be activated. Toward that end, lead teachers spend most of their time organizing interesting activities and providing assistance to students. Their manner of teaching might be as follows:
- Discuss many topics of interest with the class.
- Encourage students to identify topics they would like to explore in depth.
- Discuss with students the nature of the schoolwork that might ensue, emphasizing quality and asking for input concerning criteria of quality.
- Explore with students resources that might be needed for quality work and the amount of time such work might require.
- Demonstrate ways in which the work can be done. If possible, illustrate by showing models of student work that reflect quality.
- Emphasize the importance of students continually inspecting and evaluating the quality their own work.
- Make evident to students that everything possible will be done to provide them good tools and a good workplace that is noncoercive and nonadversarial.
To illustrate how lead teaching might proceed, consider the example of Mr. Garcia’s introduction to a unit of study on the geography of South America in Figure 8.1.
Figure 8.1 Example of Lead Teaching
“Class, have any of you ever lived in South America? You did, Samuel? Which country? Peru? Fantastic! What an interesting country! I used to live in Brazil. I traveled in the Amazon quite a bit and spent some time with jungle Indians. Supposedly they were head hunters at one time. But not now. At least so they say. Tomorrow I’ll show you a bow and arrow I brought from that tribe. Samuel, did you ever eat monkey when you were in Peru? I think Peru and Brazil are very alike in some ways but very different in others. What was Peru like compared to here? Did you get up into the Andes? They have fabulous ruins all over Peru, I hear, and those fantastic Chariots of the Gods lines and drawings on the landscape. Do you have any photographs or slides you could bring for us to see? What a resource you could be for us! You could teach us a lot!
Class, Samuel lived in Peru and traveled in the Andes. If we could get him to teach us about that country, what do you think you would most like to learn? (The class discusses this option and identifies topics.)
We have the opportunity in our class to learn a great deal about South America, its mountains and grasslands, its dense rain forests and huge rivers, and its interesting people and strange animals. Did you know there are groups of people from England, Wales, Italy, and Germany now living in many parts of South America, especially in Argentina? Did you know there are still thought to be tribes of Indians in the jungles that have no contact with the outside world? Did you know that almost half of all the river water in the world is in the Amazon Basin, and that in some places the Amazon River is so wide that from the middle you can’t see either shore?
Speaking of the Amazon jungle, I swam in a lake there that contained piranhas, and look, I still have my legs and arms. Surprised about that? If you wanted to learn more about living in the Amazon jungle, what would you be interested in knowing? (Discussion ensues.)
How about people of the high Andes? Those Incas, for example, and their ancestors who in some unknown way cut and placed enormous boulders into gigantic, perfectly fitting fortress walls? Samuel has seen them. The Incas were very civilized and powerful, with an empire that stretched for three thousand miles. Yet they were conquered by a few Spaniards on horseback. How in the world could that have happened? If you could learn more about those amazing Incas and the area in which they lived, what would you like to know?
(Discussion continues in this manner. Students identify topics about which they would be willing to make an effort to learn.) Now let me see what you think of this idea: I have written down the topics you said you were interested in, and I can help you with resources and materials. I have lots of my own, including slides, South American music, and many artifacts I have collected. I know two people who lived in Argentina and Colombia that we could invite to talk with us. We can concentrate on what you have said you would like to learn about. But if we decide to do so, I want to see if we can make this deal: We explore what interests you; I help you all I can. For your part, you will explore some information I think you should know, and all along you agree to do the best work you are capable of. We would need to discuss what you’d like to learn about and some things I want you to learn, and from that we could decide what you might do to show the quality of your learning. In addition, I hope I can persuade each of you to regularly evaluate yourselves as to how well you believe you are doing. Understand, this would not be my evaluation; it would be yours—not for a grade but so you can see what you are doing very well and what you think you might be able to do better. What do you think of that idea? Want to give it a try?”
Choice Theory Applied to the Classroom
Given a high level of motivation, students can learn almost anything taught in school, and when fully engrossed in learning they seldom misbehave.
The Relation of Quality Teaching to Discipline
Teachers who function as leaders of quality classrooms should avoid adversarial relationships with their students, because too often adversity destroys incentives, both for student learning and pleasure in teaching. By staying out of the adversity quagmire, you make it possible to foster quality learning and at the same time reduce discipline problems to a minimum. Glasser acknowledges that no approach can eliminate all behavior problems, but he maintains that misbehavior can be reduced greatly if teachers do the following:
- Work with students to establish standards of conduct in the classroom.
- Begin with a discussion of the importance of quality work (to be given priority in the class) and explain that you will do everything possible to help students learn and enjoy themselves without using force.
- That discussion should lead naturally to asking students about class behavior they believe will help them get their work done and truly help them learn. Glasser says that if teachers can get students to see the importance of courtesy, no other rules may be necessary.
- Also solicit student advice on what should happen when behavior agreements are broken. Glasser says students usually suggest punishment, though they know punishment is not effective. If asked further, they will agree that behavior problems are best solved by looking for ways to remedy whatever is causing the rule to be broken.
- Whenever appropriate, ask students, “What could I do to help?”
- Once agreements and consequences are established, they should be put in writing and all students should sign the document, attesting that they understand the agreements and that, if they break them, they will try—with the teacher’s help—to correct the underlying problem.
- Agreements established and dealt with in this way, says Glasser, show that the teacher’s main concern lies in quality, not power, and that the teacher recognizes that power struggles are the main enemy of quality education.
- Hold classroom meetings to explore alternatives to inappropriate behavior.
Eliminating the Seven Deadly Habits
criticizing, blaming, complaining, nagging, threatening, punishing, and rewarding students to control them.
Emphasizing the Seven Connecting Habits
caring, listening, supporting, contributing, encouraging, trusting, and befriending.
Gaining the Benefits of Quality Classrooms
Here is a brief outline of Glasser’s suggestions for teachers who wish to increase the level of quality in their classrooms:
- Replace deadly habits with connecting habits.
- Make plain how you will work with students.The message you want to get across to students is the following: “We are in this class together. I want to help you to be competent or go beyond. My job is to teach you and help you learn
- Befriend your students.Instead of telling students what they must do and not do, endeavor to befriend all of them.
- Establish reasonable rules of class behavior.Rely on one fundamental rule of behavior—the Golden Rule.
- Take the energy out of impending misbehavior.Replace traditional discipline (external control) with talking and listening to students as soon as you sense that misbehavior is likely to occur. Listen carefully. Inject humor into the situation if you can, but do not make light of students’ concerns.
- Teach things that make a real difference in students’ lives.It is very important that students be able to make good use of what they learn in school. Therefore, make sure your curriculum focuses on skills and knowledge that interest students and make them more knowledgeable and competent.
- Help students learn to strive for quality. Explain that you will ask students to work at any given assignment until they have achieved an acceptably high level of competence. Nobody will fail or receive a low grade. They can use any resources available to help them, including textbooks, parents, and other students.
- Test students frequently, but productively.Teach students using your best techniques, then test them regularly. Explain that the tests are for learning only and promise that no one will fail or receive a bad grade. When they have completed the test, have them go back over it and correct any incorrect or incomplete answers. Ask them to explain why the correction is better. Give them the time and help needed to get everything right.
- Emphasize understanding and making use of new learning.Ask students to always focus on understanding and using the information and skills being taught. Ask them to share and discuss the learnings with parents or guardians.
- Provide options for students after competence is achieved.Students who complete their work competently can then have the option of helping other students or moving ahead to doing something of yet higher quality.
Summary Rubric: Implementing Glasser’s Ideas in the Classroom
Glasser’s ideas for increasing quality in teaching and learning need not be implemented in one fell swoop, but instead can be introduced gradually, allowing teachers to evaluate for themselves what is happening to classroom climate and morale. If you wished to do so, how might you begin? Here are some suggestions:
- Remember that your students’ behavior is internally motivated and purposeful, directed at meeting certain needs. Adjust your curriculum as necessary to help students meet those needs.
- Remember also that most of your students will not commit themselves to class activities they find boring, frustrating, or otherwise dissatisfying. Do away with those topics and replace them with something that is both valuable and enjoyable.
- Hold a discussion with your class on how school could be made more interesting and enjoyable. Identify a topic in which they show interest and brainstorm ways to explore it, procedures for reporting or demonstrating accomplishment, personal conduct that would make the class function better, and how disruptions might be handled positively and effectively. The process is mainly for student input, but you might offer some of your opinions as well.
- Following that, indicate that you will try to organize a few activities as students have suggested and that you will do all you can to help them learn and succeed. Meanwhile, give yourself a crash course on functioning as a lead teacher, eliminating the seven deadly habits, and establishing the seven connecting habits in your relations with students.
- As you get underway, hold meetings with your class to discuss new efforts and any results you see in class-work and behavior. The meetings should focus only on improving learning and never be allowed to degenerate into fault finding, blaming, or criticizing.
- Instead of coercing, scolding, and punishing your students to get them to learn and behave properly, befriend them, provide encouragement and stimulation, and show unending willingness to help.
- Ask students what kinds of class behaviors will help them improve class behavior while acquiring quality learning. Ask them to reach class agreements about such behavior. Ask them what should happen when anyone breaks a behavior agreement. Ensure that all their suggestions are positive rather than negative.
- When students misbehave, discuss their behavior and why it was inappropriate for the class. Ask them what they feel they could do to avoid misbehaving in the future. If the misbehavior is serious or chronic, talk with the involved students privately at an appropriate time.
Chapter 9: How Does Spencer Kagan Use Structures and Teacher–Student Same-Side Collaboration to Establish Class Discipline?
Students who disrupt are said to be coming from one of seven positions—attention seeking, avoiding failure, angry, control seeking, energetic, unfocused, bored, or uninformed.
- Three pillars of Win-Win Discipline.Three pillars comprise the philosophical structure of Win-Win Discipline: (1) same side, meaning students, teachers, and parents all work together on the same side to enhance the school experience for everyone; (2) collaborative solutions, meaning students and teachers cooperate in proposing workable solutions to discipline problems; and (3) learned responsibility, the desire to behave appropriately, which students acquire by practicing self-management and the skills of getting along with others.
- Class rules.Win-Win Discipline makes use of class rules, but they are not formulated solely by the teacher. Rather, they are class agreements worked out cooperatively by teacher and students. Rules (agreements) should be worded simply, limited to about five in number, and posted in the room for easy reference. Students are involved in composing the rules, but after they are posted in the room the teacher goes through them again and directs students to practice the behaviors indicated. In addition, teachers and other adults conscientiously model behavior that is in keeping with the rules. The class also helps identify responsible alternatives to misbehavior, which they might call “The Way We Want Our Class to Be.” Those alternatives are posted in the room as well. Because students cooperate in deciding on responsible behavior, they do not feel the rules are imposed on them. Although rules may vary somewhat from class to class, they usually turn out to be quite similar overall. Kagan suggests the following:
Attention to types of misbehavior.Most classroom misbehavior can be categorized into four types—aggression, breaking rules, confrontations, and disengagement. Kagan refers to these as the ABCD of disruptive behavior. Misbehavior is considered to be ineffective behavior choices students make when trying to meet specific needs.
- Attention to student spositions.Student positions refer to students’ physical/emotional states as they exist at any point in time. Seven student positions are involved in most student misbehavior. Kagan calls those particular positions attention seeking, avoiding failure, angry, control seeking, energetic, bored, or uninformed. These positions are neither right nor wrong, neither good nor bad. They indicate individual students’ emotional or mental states at the time students misbehave, and they provide teachers a point of departure in addressing misbehavior. Remember: Do not accept misbehavior, but do accept and validate the student’s position when he or she misbehaves.
- Structures.When misbehavior occurs, teachers identify the position the student is coming from and apply structures that help the student return to responsible behavior. Structures are procedures—steps teachers can take to deal with misbehavior when it occurs. Kagan provides over 200 such structures that are matched to (1) the type of misbehavior and (2) the student position at the time of misbehavior. The structures do more than stifle disruptions; they help students develop autonomous responsibility for their own behavior. Some of the structures can be used proactively to prevent misbehavior, whereas others can be used reactively to deal with misbehavior that occurs.
- Attention to needs.Because misbehavior is a manifestation of students’ ineffective efforts to meet needs, Kagan urges teachers to help students meet their needs in acceptable ways. For the most part, this can be accomplished by (1) providing a learning environment that is rich with interesting activities and engaging instruction, and (2) establishing a “we” approach that gives teachers and students a joint interest in maintaining responsible behavior. The we approach is part of what Kagan means by teacher–student same-side collaboration.
Other structures are designed for use in responding to misbehavior when it occurs. These responsive structures are applied at three different points in time: (1) at the moment of disruption, to stop the misbehavior and rechannel it into responsible behavior, (2) during follow-up, when students require further assistance in moving beyond a particular misbehavior, and (3) repeatedly over the long-term, to help students develop and maintain effective life skills such as self-direction and positive relations with others.
Discussions are used to prompt students to reflect on three considerations: (1) their own and others’ needs, (2) how they treat others, and (3) how they conduct themselves. Students can be asked to consider three questions:
- What if everyone acted that way? (How would our class be if everyone acted that way?)
- How would I like to be treated? (Did I treat others the way I would like to be treated?)
- What would be a win-win solution? (What would meet everyone’s needs?)
Discuss and if necessary re-teach expectations concerning rules, procedures, and routines.
Identifying Replacement Behavior
Teachers guide students to generate, accept, and practice responsible behavior that they can use in place of disruptive behavior.
Agreeing on Contracts
Contracts are written agreements in which the teacher and individual students clarify and formalize agreements they have reached. Contracts sometimes increase the likelihood that the student will remember, identify with, and honor the agreement.
Consequences are conditions that teacher and students have agreed to invoke when students misbehave. They are held as a last resort and are used only when all other follow-up efforts have failed. Consequences should be aligned with the three pillars of Win-Win Discipline—they begin with same-side orientation; are established through teacher–student collaboration; and are instructive and aimed at helping students learn to conduct themselves with greater personal responsibility.
When misbehavior disrupts or harms others and responsible thinking is not enough, students may need to apologize to those they have offended or make restitution of some sort. Genuine apologies have three parts: a statement of regret or remorse, a statement of appropriate future behavior, and the request for acceptance of the apology. Restitution means making amends for emotional damage that was done or repairing or replacing physical damage. Restitution is a tangible way of taking responsibility and dealing with the consequences of inappropriate choices. As well, it has the potential to “heal the violator.”
More on Structures for Promoting Life Skills
As we have noted, the major goal of Win-Win Discipline is to bring about the progressive development of a number of life skills that help students live more successfully. Examples of life skills are self-control, anger management, good judgment, impulse control, perseverance, and empathy. Teachers are urged to teach these skills as part of the curriculum and use them when responding to misbehavior. Kagan says that by fostering these life skills, teachers can move beyond interventions that simply end disruptions while leaving students likely to disrupt again in the future. He illustrates his points as follows:
- A student puts down another student. The recipient of the put-down, having been publicly belittled, has the impulse to retaliate by giving back a put-down or even initiating a fight. To the extent the student has acquired the life skills of self-control, anger management, and/or good judgment, a discipline problem is averted.
- A student is finding an assignment difficult. She is tempted to avoid a sense of failure by saying to herself and others, “This assignment is stupid.” To the extent the student has acquired self-motivation, pride in her work, and perseverance, a discipline problem is averted.
- A student is placed on a team with another student he does not like. He is tempted to call out, “Yuck! Look who we are stuck with!” To the extent the student has acquired relationship skills, cooperativeness, empathy, and kindness, a discipline problem is averted.
- Annie is standing in front of her classmates, making a report on how aluminum is obtained from bauxite. William interrupts, asking “What is box-tight?” He laughs and interrupts again. His antics make Annie lose her train of thought and become distraught.
Intervention Strategies for Types of Misbehavior
Interventions—the actions teachers take to deal with misbehavior when it occurs—are used to help students replace their misbehavior with appropriate behavior that continues over time. It is here that teachers select and apply structures that help students behave appropriately. Kagan provides suggestions for many intervention strategies and the time frames in which they should be used in the following sections.
For Attention-Seeking Behavior
Most individuals have a strong need for attention. They want to know others care about them or at least take notice of them. When they feel left out or not cared for, they often behave undesirably in trying to get the attention they crave. They may interrupt, show off, annoy others, work more slowly than others, ask for extra help, or simply goof off. These acts seldom bring the results students hope for—in fact, they are likely to lead to further disruption and increased teacher annoyance.
What Teachers Can Do
For the moment of disruption, teachers can use physical proximity and hand or facial signals to stop the misbehavior, or they can provide additional personal attention, appreciation, and affirmation. If attention seeking becomes chronic, teachers can ask students to identify positive ways to get attention. The teachers can follow up by meeting with disruptive students and discussing the need for attention and how it might be obtained in a positive manner. Strategies forlong-term solutions include helping students strengthen their self-concept and acquire the skills of self-validation.
For Attempts to Avoid Failure or Embarrassment
We have all been in situations where we rationalize our inadequacies in order to soften the pain or embarrassment of failure. No one likes to appear inept. The student who says, “I don’t care about the stupid math quiz,” knows it is more painful to fail in front of others than not to try at all, and therefore will rationalize failure as lack of caring.
What Teachers Can Do
Win-win teachers help students find ways to persist and continue to perform without feeling bad if they aren’t first or best. For the moment of disruption, teachers can encourage students to try to complete the task, assign them partners or helpers, or reorganize and present the information in smaller instructional pieces. For follow-up and long-term strategies, you can ask students how they think responsible people might deal with fear of failure. Consider providing peer support, reviewing how mistakes are always part of the learning process as people move toward excellence, and using “team pair solo,” a structure in which students practice first as a team and then in pairs before doing the assigned activities by themselves.
For Angry Students
Anger is a natural reaction to many situations that involve frustration, humiliation, loss, and pain. Angry students may act out in unacceptable ways because they do not know any other way to deal with the emotions they are experiencing.
What Teachers Can Do
Teachers don’t enjoy interacting with angry students and may experience feelings of hurt or indignation. Often, because they feel personally attacked, their immediate reaction is to retaliate against the students. Obviously, that does nothing to help students manage their anger. Win-Win Discipline provides several structures to help teachers respond positively to angry disruptions. Three of those structures are teaching responsible ways of handling anger, allowing students to cool down and have time to think, and tabling the matter for attention at a later time. Long-term interventions include having students practice the skills of self-control and teaching them how to resolve conflicts in a positive manner.
For Control-Seeking Behavior
All of us want to feel we are at least partly in charge of ourselves and able to make our own decisions. When we exercise self-direction, we sometimes try to control others as well. At times students will show this take-charge attitude by disregarding or defying directions from the teacher. Doing so often leads to power struggles between student and teacher. Teachers don’t take kindly to noncompliance, arguing, or making excuses, and they often counter in ways that show their dominance, which doesn’t benefit the student.
What Teachers Can Do
For the moment of disruption, teachers can acknowledge the student’s power, use language of choice (a structure in which the teacher provides students with choice such as, “You may either … or …”), or provide options for how and when work is to be done. For follow-up they may schedule a conference or class meeting at a later time to discuss the situation, ask the class why they think students often struggle against the teacher, and consider how such struggles can be avoided.Long-term strategies include involving students in the decision-making process and asking for their help in establishing class agreements about showing respect for teacher and fellow students.
For Overly Energetic Students
At times, humans experience periods of high energy so strong they cannot sit still or concentrate. Some students are in this state a good deal of the time, moving and talking incessantly.
What Teachers Can Do
If overly energetic behavior becomes troublesome, teachers can, at the moment of disruption, take a class break that allows energy to dissipate, provide time for progressive relaxation, remove distracting elements and objects, and channel energy productively. Follow-up strategies include teaching a variety of calming strategies and providing activities that allow students to work off energy in positive ways. Long-term solutions include managing energy levels during instruction and helping students learn how to channel their energy in ways that bring positive results.
For Bored Students
To say that students are bored is to say they are no longer enjoying given activities sufficiently to continue in them willingly. Their boredom will be evident in their body language, disengagement, and disinclination to participate.
What Teachers Can Do
To help bored students at the moment of disruption, teachers can restructure the learning task, involve students more actively, and inject short activities that energize the students. As follow-up, they may talk privately with the students and assign them helping roles such as caretakers for the classroom, materials assistants, or coaches to assist other students. For long-term solutions, teachers can provide a rich, relevant, and developmentally appropriate curriculum that actively involves students in the learning process, emphasizes cooperative learning, and calls on students to use their multiple intelligences.
For Uninformed Students
Sometimes students respond or react disruptively because they simply don’t know what to do or how to behave responsibly. Disruptions stemming from being uninformed do not occur because of strong emotions, but because of lack of information, skill, or appropriate habit. Even when these disruptions are not emotionally volatile, they are nonetheless frustrating to teachers.
What Teachers Can Do
To determine whether students know what is expected of them, at the moment of disruption the teacher should gently ask if students know what they are supposed to do. If they don’t, you can re-teach them at the time. If they only need support, let them work with a buddy. Follow-up strategies include more careful attention to giving directions, modeling desired responses, and providing practice in responsible behavior. Long-term solutions include encouragement and focusing on the student’s strengths.
Apply a structure for the moment of disruption that is consistent with Samuel’s position. You might say, “Samuel, because you are a new member of our class, you may not know, or may not remember, our rule against calling out in class. Do you remember that rule? No? Let’s take just a moment to review it so you will remember it in the future.”
Brief Review of Win-Win Discipline
Many ideas and tactics are included in Win-Win Discipline. The following review is provided to help you tie them together.
- The ultimate goals of Win-Win Discipline are to enable students to manage themselves, meet their needs through responsible choices, and develop life skills that serve well in the future. Win-Win Discipline is more than a strategy for ending disruptions—it has the added strength of fostering autonomous responsibility and other skills that transfer to life situations. Potential discipline problems tend to fade away when students experience an engaging curriculum, interesting instruction, and effective class procedures and management.
- Discipline is not something you do to students. It is something you help students acquire. The aim of discipline is to help students learn to meet their needs in a nondisruptive, responsible manner. Any disruptive behavior in the class can become an important opportunity for developing responsible behavior.
- In developing and implementing Win-Win Discipline, emphasize the three pillars of same side, collaborative solutions, and learned responsibility. For this approach to be effective, teacher and students must be on the same side, working together to create discipline solutions that help students conduct themselves more responsibly now and in the future. In the process, teachers openly express genuine caring for students, validate student positions, and provide support in establishing responsible alternatives to disruptive behavior. Students who participate in the process and help create their own discipline solutions become more likely to make responsible choices in the future.
- Win-Win Discipline proceeds from four types of disruptive behavior, called the ABCD of Disruptive Behavior: aggression, breaking rules, confrontation, and disengagement.
- The four types of misbehavior emanate from one or more of seven student positions, or emotional/physical states the student experiences at any given time. The seven positions are attention seeking, avoiding failure, angry, control seeking, energetic, bored, and uninformed. The teacher should validate the student’s position as being natural and understandable, but should not accept the misbehavior. By clarifying the links between student positions and disruptive behavior, teachers are better able to prevent misbehavior, explain the program to students, and select appropriate discipline responses.
- A number of structures are available to help students when they misbehave. Those structures are short procedures the teacher selects and applies to help students return to responsible behavior and increasingly remain there. The structures are matched to the misbehavior and to the student position from which it emanates.
Summary Rubric: Applying Win-Win Discipline in the Classroom
- Familiarize yourself with the following principles of Win-Win Discipline:
- Do not “do things to students,” but help them acquire skills of self-control.
- Teach students to meet their needs in a responsible manner.
- Use misbehavior as a starting place for developing responsible behavior.
- Work together collaboratively with students from the same side to find solutions to behavior concerns.
- Involve students in various activities that develop learned responsibility.
- Familiarize yourself and instruct your class about four types of disruptive behavior: aggression, breaking rules, confrontation, and disengagement.
- Familiarize yourself and instruct your class about seven student positions (states of mind) that often lead to disruptive behavior: attention seeking, avoiding failure, angry, control seeking, energetic, bored, and uninformed.
- Validate student positions as being natural and understandable, but do not accept the misbehavior associated with the positions.
- Use selected structures (organized procedures matched to type of behavior and student position) to interact productively with students who misbehave.
- Always endeavor to provide an engaging curriculum, interesting instruction, and effective class procedures and management.
- Using structures, help students create their own responsible discipline solutions and abide by them.
Chapter 10: How Does Marvin Marshall Establish Discipline by Activating Internal Motivation and Raising Student Responsibility?
Marvin Marshall believes the best way to ensure good classroom behavior is to help students learn to conduct themselves responsibly. For Marshall, one of today’s most influential authorities in discipline, responsibility is another word for internal motivation to do the right thing. Teachers can activate that motivation, he says, by (1) articulating clear behavioral expectations, (2)empowering students to reach them, (3) infusing positivity into all aspects of teaching, and (4) promoting a desire to do the right thing instead of pushing for obedience.
10 Practices That Damage Teaching and How They Can Be Corrected
Marshall has noted that most teachers strive to organize meaningful, challenging lessons for their students, hoping the students will control themselves and try to learn. Unfortunately, those hopes are seldom fully realized. Why? One of the reasons, says Marshall, is that teachers unwittingly use 10 practices that are counterproductive to success. Marshall (2008a) says teachers can greatly improve their effectiveness by abandoning those practices and replacing them with practices that bring out the best in students. Here are the 10 damaging practices, each followed by a better practice for teachers.
- Being reactive rather than proactive.Teachers typically wait for misbehavior to occur and then they react to it. Their reactions are often ineffective, especially when teachers are under stress.
- Better approach: Teachers would enjoy much better results if, instead of waiting and reacting to misbehavior, they inspired students at the outset to want to behave responsibly. On occasions when students fail to do so, teachers can make nonadversarial responses, such as providing two or three acceptable behaviors from which students can choose.
- Relying on rules of behavior.Rules are meant to control; they do not inspire. Rules are necessary in games, but when used between people, enforcement of rules automatically creates adversarial relationships.
- Better approach: Rather than relying on rules, carefully teach students the procedures they are expected to follow and then inspire responsible behavior by emphasizing positive expectations and having students reflect on them.
- Aiming for obedience rather than responsibility.Obedience does not create an internal desire to behave properly.
- Better approach: Forget about striving for obedience, per se, and concentrate on promoting responsibility (such as reviewing Marshall’s hierarchy of social development). Desirable behavior then follows as a natural byproduct.
- Creating negative images.You create the wrong image when you tell students what they should not do instead of what they should do. When people tell others what not to do, what follows the “don’t” is what the brain visualizes. To illustrate, if you say, “Don’t run,” you leave a picture of running in the student’s brain.
- Better approach: The picture you want to leave in students’ minds is one that depicts what they should do. For example, instead of saying, “Don’t run,” it is better to say, “Please walk.”
- Unknowingly alienating students.Even the poorest salesperson knows not to alienate a customer, but teachers too often talk to students in ways that prompt negative feelings. That dampens any desire students might have to cooperate with the teacher.
- Better approach: People “do good” when they feel positive, not when they feel negative. If you speak with students in a friendly and supportive manner, they are more likely to cooperate with you willingly.
- Confusing classroom management with discipline.Classroom management has to do with classroom organization, student procedures, and the efficient use of materials. It is the teacher’s responsibility. Discipline has to do with self-control and appropriate behavior. It is the student’s responsibility.
- Betterapproach: Explain to students that it is your responsibility to provide a classroom in which they can learn comfortably and efficiently. Explain that it is theirresponsibility to conduct themselves in a responsible manner, and that you will teach them how to do so.
- Assuming students know what is expected of them.Too often, teachers assume students know, without being taught, how they are expected to conduct themselves in class.
- Better approach: Teach your students the procedures and behaviors expected of them and have them practice until they can do those things automatically.
- Employing coercion rather than influence.Although teachers can use coercion to control students temporarily, that process does little to change students or motivate them to learn.
- Better approach: Recognize that people change themselves and will do so when inspired and taught, rather than coerced. Most students resist in some degree whenmade to do anything. Therefore, do what you can to inspire and influence students to learn and conduct themselves responsibly.
- Imposing consequences rather than eliciting responsible behavior.When a consequence (an unpleasant aftermath) is imposed on students who fail to meet expectations, ownership of any change in behavior is taken away from the student, which makes the change weak or transitory.
- Better approach: A more effective tactic to employ when students misbehave or fail to meet expectations is to elicit from the student involved a consequence or a procedure that he or she feels will improve the likelihood of responsible behavior.
- Relying on external influences rather than internal processes.We make a serious mistake when we use reward and punishment to help young people develop self-discipline. Those influences come from outside the individual, rather than from inside. Behavior may seem to change when external influences are applied, but it usually fails the critical test of responsible behavior: Is responsible behavior still in effect when the teacher is not there to watch?
- Better approach: True change comes from the self-satisfaction that accrues from one’s own efforts, not from threats that induce fear or prizes that reinforce childish values. Therefore, do what you can to help students find pleasure in improvements in learning and personal behavior.
Positivity is an emotion of optimism. Being around optimistic people makes us feel better, while being around negative people has the opposite effect. Students will probably like you and be pleased to be in your class if they see you as positive in your outlook and dealings with others, rather than negative and critical. Unfortunately, students often perceive their teachers and schools in a negative light because teachers unwittingly set themselves up as enforcers of rules rather than as encouragers, mentors, and role models. They aim at promoting obedience, without realizing that obedience has no energizing effect on students, but instead fosters apathy, resistance, and defiance.
What teachers can do is establish expectations and empower students to attain them. This process is done in a noncoercive manner by asking reflective questions that prompt students to think about how they are behaving.
Marshall’s Hierarchy of Social Development*
- Level A—Anarchy (an unacceptable level).This is the lowest level of social development. When students are functioning at this level, they give no heed to expectations or standards. They have no sense of order or purpose and they seldom accomplish anything worthwhile in class.
- Level B—Bossing/bullying/bothering (also an unacceptable level).When functioning at this level, students are bossing, bullying, or bothering others without consideration of the harm they are doing. Here, students obey the teacher or others only when made to do so. In effect they are saying to the teacher, “We are unable to control ourselves. We need you to boss us.” Marshall says sharing this concept with students has a profound effect on how they behave.
- Level C—Cooperation/conformity (an acceptable level).When functioning at this level, students conform to expectations set by the teacher or others and are willing to cooperate. However, motivation for responsible conduct comes from external influences, such as rules, teacher demands, and peer pressure (which at times may be irresponsible). Discussing and thinking about the nature and effects of external motivation helps students understand and move beyond its influence.
- Level D—Democracy and taking the initiative to do the right thing (the highest and most desirable level).When functioning at Level D, students take the initiative to do what they feel is right and proper—they behave responsibly without having to be told to do so. They are prompted to behave in this manner by internal motivation associated with an understanding of what is expected of them and why. Marshall suggests explaining to students that democracy requires citizens to make decisions for themselves, rather than having decisions made for them, as is the case in dictatorships. Democracy expects people do the right thing because they understand it is best for themselves and the people around them. Marshall says that although Level C behavior is acceptable in school, teachers and students should aim for Level D, where students are motivated to make good decisions about their personal behavior, regardless of circumstances, personal urges, or influence from others.
To illustrate how the hierarchy of social development is used to help students reflect on their behavior, suppose two boys are talking together audibly while another student is making a class report. The teacher quietly asks the disruptive boys, “At what level is that behavior?” They think for a moment and answer, “Level B.” Their misbehavior typically ceases at that point and their minds turn toward behavior at a higher level.
25 Tactics Useful in Stimulating Students to Behave Responsibly
Marshall suggests 25 specific tactics that stimulate responsibility in students and help them increase their reliance on internal motivation.
- Think and speak with positivity.If we approach students and situations in a positive manner, we enjoy ourselves more and bring greater pleasure to our students. Students are often put off if they perceive a negative tone in our communications with them. By helping students think in positive terms, we reduce stress, improve relationships, and help them become more successful.
- Use the power of choice.We all have the power to choose our responses and attitudes to situations, events, impulses, and urges. The optimists among us perceive that choices are available; the pessimists perceive a lack of choice. Optimistic thinking engenders responsibility and helps students move away from seeing themselves as victims of life events. Regardless of age, everyone likes to feel they have control over their lives. When we are encouraged to make choices, we become more aware of that control. Consider offering your students choices in school activities, including homework. Doing so noncoercively promotes behavior change and provides hope and feelings of control.
- Emphasize the reflective process.Thinking reflectively increases positivity and choice and, when applied to one’s own behavior, can lead to self-evaluation and correction, necessary ingredients for growth and change. Ask students questions and encourage them to ask themselves questions, especially about behavior they have chosen. The questioning process activates the thinking process. When students ask themselves “What?” and “How?” their alertness and interest increase.
- Control the conversation by asking questions.One way for teachers to remain in control of conversations is to ask questions. When you ask someone a question, they have a natural inclination to answer it. If in a discussion or argument you find yourself in a reactive mode and want to move into a proactive mode and regain control, ask a question of your own. For example, a student asks you, “Why do we have to do this assignment?” Instead of answering, redirect the conversation by simply asking, “Do you feel there is another way we can learn this information more easily?” When students complain, you are likely to get good results by asking, “What can I do to improve the situation, and what can you do?”
- Create curiosity.Marshall says curiosity may be the greatest of all motivators for learning. He suggests presenting a problem or a challenge to students and allowing them to grapple with it at the beginning of a lesson. Doing so engenders student curiosity.
- Create desire to know.Allow some time at the beginning of each lesson to talk about what the lesson offers. Students always want to know what’s in it for them. Point out how new knowledge, skills, and insights can help them solve problems, make better decisions, get along better with others, and live life more effectively and enjoyably.
- Use acknowledgment and recognition.Providing acknowledgment and recognition of students’ efforts helps them feel affirmed and validated. Such a simple comment as, “I see you did well on that,” fosters reflection and feelings of competence, as does a comment such as, “Evelyn raises an interesting question, one that applies to what we’ve been exploring.”
- Encourage students.One of the most effective techniques for stimulating students is to let them know you believe they can accomplish the task before them. For many students, a word of encouragement following a mistake is worth more than a great deal of praise after a success. Emphasize that learning is a process and that no one is perfect. Not being successful at a task is a valuable way of learning. It should be seen as a learning experience, not as failure. (See Marshall, 2005f.)
- Use collaboration.Generally speaking, allowing students to work together cooperatively promotes better learning than does competition. Competing with others is not effective for youngsters who never reach the winner’s circle. Students who never feel successful would rather drop out than compete. Instead of competing, allow students to work together, preferably in pairs. Even a very shy student will usually participate with one other person. (See Marshall, 2005d.)
- Get yourself excited.You can’t expect others to get excited about what you are teaching if you are not excited about it yourself. Show enthusiasm for the lesson. When lecturing, use a little more animation than when you are conversing, facilitating, or reviewing.
- Foster interpersonal relationships in the class.Connecting with your students one on one is extremely valuable, but helping them connect with each other one on one can be even more valuable. Relationships are extremely important to young people. At the end of a lesson, consider having students participate in think, pair, and share, in which they work in pairs and then share their conclusions with the class.
- Use variety.Variety spices up topics that students might otherwise find tedious. A myriad of visual, auditory, and manipulative techniques can be employed in teaching, such as charts, cartoons, models, parts of films, videos, PowerPoint creations, overhead transparencies, listening to music, recording music, rapping, creating verse, creating rhythms, physical movements, enacting the roles of characters in stories or events, large-group discussions, case studies, and working with small groups or buddies.
- Stress responsibility rather than rules.Consider calling behaviors you expect in classresponsibilities rather than rules. For responsibilities that are actually procedures, rather than matters of personal conduct, teach the appropriate procedure and have students practice until they can do it correctly. Every rule, expectation, or responsibility should be stated in positive terms.
- See situations as challenges, not problems.If we help students take a positive approach and view situations as challenges, rather than as problems, we help them deal better with what life brings. This also helps students feel they have some control over their lives, rather than being victims of circumstance. Emphasize to students that they can use adversity as a catalyst to becoming better, stronger, wiser, and more capable of dealing with life’s challenges.
- Use listening to influence others.It is surprising how strongly we can influence students simply by listening to them. The more we are open to students, the greater our influence. One way to develop listening ability is to pretend we are doing the talking for the other person. This can cause us to set aside some of our views and redirect some of our impulsive reactions. Also, we should ask reflective questions rather than continually lecturing. Learning to listen and ask evaluative-type questions takes practice, but brings good results.
- Be careful about challenging students’ ideas.Very few people like to be put on the defensive by having their ideas and beliefs challenged. Instead of challenging, ask questions such as, “How did you come to that interesting conclusion?” or “An alternative point of view is (such and such). Have you ever considered that viewpoint?”
- Avoid telling.When we tell someone to do something, the message is often perceived as criticism or an attempt to control, regardless of our intentions. Rather than telling, phrase your idea as a suggestion, such as, “You may want to consider doing that later and focusing on the current lesson now.” Or use a reflective question stated as if you were curious, such as, “What would be the long-term effect of doing that?” Three more questions you will find useful are: “Is there any other way this could be handled?” “What would a responsible action look like?” and “What do you think a highly responsible person would do in this situation?”
- Raise your likeability level.Most teachers want students to like them. Many believe they can make that happen by trying to be friends with students and may decide, for example, to let students call them by their given name. There is much to be said for friendliness, but personal friendship is not what students need or even want from teachers. If you provide encouragement and empowerment through positivity, choice, and reflection, your students will like you.
- Empower by building on successes.Great teachers know that learning is based on motivation and students are best motivated when they can build on existing interests and strengths. That doesn’t mean we should ignore the negative or disregard what needs improvement. But students are more likely to achieve success through their assets than through their shortcomings. The more they are successful, the more they are willing to put effort into areas that need improvement. This is especially true for students at risk who have negative perceptions of their school achievements and, therefore, of school in general.
- Nurture students’ brains.Marian Diamond is an internationally known neuroscientist who has studied mammalian brains for decades. She and Janet Hopson are the authors of Magic Trees of the Mind: How to Nurture Your Child’s Intelligence, Creativity, and Healthy Emotions from Birth through Adolescence. In that book Diamond and Hopson (1998) recommend that teachers provide a steady source of positive emotional support for students, stimulate all the senses (though not necessarily all at the same time), maintain an atmosphere free of undue pressure and stress but suffused with a degree of pleasurable intensity, present a series of novel challenges that are neither too easy nor too difficult for the students, allow students to select many of their own instructional activities, offer opportunities for students to assess the results of their learning and modify it as they think best, provide an enjoyable learning atmosphere that promotes exploration and fun, and allow time for students to reflect and let their brains assimilate new information.
- Emphasize the four classical virtues.The four classical virtues are prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude. Prudence is making proper choices without doing anything rash. Temperance is remaining moderate in all things, including human passions and emotions. Justice refers to ensuring fair outcomes based on honesty.Fortitude is showing courage, strength, and conviction in pursuit of the right path. Through the ages, philosophers have contended that these four virtues help people meet challenges effectively and find greater satisfaction in life.
- Tutor a few students every day.Tutoring students one on one is the easiest, quickest, and most effective way of establishing personal relationships with students.
- Hold frequent classroom meetings.Classroom meetings provide excellent opportunities for all members of the class to work together. These meetings are valuable for resolving challenges that confront the whole class and for helping individual students deal with certain problems. (See Marshall, 2005c.)
- Resolve conflict in a constructive manner.When people are involved in conflict, ask each of them what they are willing to do to resolve the situation. Get across the notion that we can’t force other people to change, but we can influence them to do so through our actions and the changes we are willing to make in ourselves.
- Establish trust.Relationships with others are extremely important to students, especially those who are at risk and those from low-income families. Students who do not value school will be motivated to put forward effort only for a teacher they trust and who cares about them and their interests. Trust in the classroom also depends on emotional and psychological safety. To promote trust, employ the three principles of positivity, choice, and reflection.
How to Intervene When Students Misbehave
Step 1: Use an Unobtrusive Tactic
Suppose Syong is annoying Neri. Before saying anything to Syong, you would prompt her to stop by using an unobtrusive technique, such as facial expression, eye contact, hand signal, moving near Syong, changing voice tone, thanking students for working, saying, “Excuse me,” or asking students for help. Marshall (2001) offers 22 unobtrusive visual, verbal, and kinetic techniques that are useful at this juncture.
Step 2: Check for Understanding
If the unobtrusive tactic doesn’t stop Syong’s misbehavior, check to see if she understands the level of her chosen behavior. Use a neutral, unemotional tone of voice and phrase the question as, “Syong, which level are you choosing?” or, “Syong, reflect on the level you have chosen.” No mention is made of the nature of the behavior or what Syong is doing, only the level of chosen behavior. This helps prevent a natural self-defense that often leads to a confrontation. Without the hierarchy—which separates the student from the student’s inappropriate behavior—a teacher may ask, “What are you doing?” This too often leads to a confrontational situation, especially if Syong responds, “Nothing.” However, asking, “On what level is that behavior?” prompts not only acknowledgement but also self-evaluation. You are not attacking Syong; you are separating her as a person from the inappropriate behavior, something educators often talk about but find difficult to do.
Step 3: Use Guided Choice
This procedure allows students to choose among two or three options you provide. Marshall says this tactic allows you to use authority without punishment. If Syong continues to bother Neri, you can place an essay form on Syong’s desk while quietly offering her three choices, such as, “Do you prefer to fill out this form in your seat, in the rear of the room, or in the office?” The pre-prepared form contains the following headings Syong is to write about:
What did I do? (Acknowledgment)
What can I do to prevent it from happening again? (Choice)
What will I do? (Commitment)
Guided choice options should be adjusted in accordance with the grade level, the individual student, and the class. Before responding to the form, the student is asked two more questions: (1) “Do you know the reason the form was given to you?” and (2) “Do you think it is personal?” Students understand that the form was given because, when the student behaves on an unacceptable level, the teacher needs to quickly resolve the disruption and return to the lesson. The form allows you to use teacher authority in a nonpunishing way. Asking a student to reflect is not classified as punishment in the usual sense of the word. After the student responds to the second question, the teacher (of grades 6 and above) asks, “What would you like me to do with the form?” Students generally respond, “Throw it away.” Although some teachers might wish to keep the forms, Marshall’s approach is to tear up the form and place it in the wastepaper basket right then in front of the student, thus allowing the student to leave the class without negative feelings. Overall, guided choice can effectively stop the disruption, provide the student a responsibility-producing activity to encourage self-reflection, and allow the teacher to return promptly to the lesson. It is crucial to understand that when providing guided choices, the teacher does so by asking the student, not telling. This reduces confrontation, minimizes stress, and helps preserve student dignity.
It is very unlikely that Syong, having completed the essay form, will continue to bother others, but teachers always want to know what to do in case a student continues to misbehave. Marshall suggests continuing to Step 4.
Step 4: Make a Self-Diagnostic Referral
Before moving to a more in-depth reflective form, Syong is given the essay form to complete a second time. If this procedure is not effective, then a self-diagnostic referral is given. This form contains items such as the following:
- Describe the problem that led to writing this.
- Identify the level of behavior.
- Explain why this level of behavior is not acceptable.
- On what level should a person act in order to be socially responsible?
- If you had acted on an acceptable level, what would have happened?
- List three solutions that would help you act more responsibly.
Marshall advises keeping the completed referrals on file for the entire year, as they might be used in discussions with parents or the administration.
Step 5: Give an Additional Self-Diagnostic Referral
If Syong continues to bother other students, assign an additional referral to complete, in the same manner as the first. Then mail a copy of the first and second referrals to Syong’s parents or guardian, together with a brief note explaining the problem.
Step 6: Give a Final Self-Diagnostic Referral
If Syong continues to behave on an unacceptable level, assign a third and final self-diagnostic referral. Mail a copy to her parents, along with copies of the first two referrals and both notes. The final note indicates to the parents that you have exhausted all positive means of fostering social responsibility and will refer future disruptions to the administration. Marshall points out that in all these cases, it is the student who has identified the problem and proposed positive solutions. All the teacher does is write brief notes to parents and mail them copies of the student’s self-diagnostic referrals. The student has done most of the thinking and planning, which gives ownership to the student—a necessary ingredient for lasting change. Marshall says the last few steps rarely, if ever, need to be used.
The Marshall teaching model is summarized in Figure 10.2. Marshall (2008) goes on to emphasize that having a system to rely on is superior to having a talent for teaching. Even teachers with a natural talent are challenged by student behaviors that teachers in former generations did not have to deal with. To retain the joy that the teaching profession offers and to reduce one’s stress, establish a reliable system for promoting learning and acceptable behavior.
The Marvin Marshall Teaching Model
The key to effective classroom management is teaching and practicing procedures. This is the teacher’s responsibility. Discipline, on the other hand, has to do with behavior and is the student’s responsibility.
Practice changing negatives into positives. “No running” becomes “We walk in the hallways.” “Stop talking” becomes “This is quiet time.”
Teach choice–response thinking and impulse control in order to redirect impulsive behavior.
Since you cannot actually control or change students, ask reflective questions to actuate change in them.
Teaching the Hierarchy (Teaching)
The hierarchy engenders a desire to behave responsibly and put forth effort to learn. Students differentiate between internal and external motivation—and learn to rise above inappropriate peer influence.
Checking for Understanding (Asking)
Students reflect on the level of chosen behavior. This approach separates the person from the behavior, thereby negating the usual tendency toward self-defense that leads to confrontations between student and teacher.
Guided Choices (Eliciting)
If disruptions continue, a consequence or procedure is elicited to redirect the inappropriate behavior. This approach is in contrast to the usual coercive approach of having a consequence imposed.
Using the hierarchy for review before a lesson and for reflecting after a lesson increases effort and raises academic achievement.
Self-Evaluation for Teachers
Once you decide to use Marshall’s Discipline without Stress, the following questions will help you evaluate your progress:
- Are you teaching the procedures you expect of your students?
- Are you communicating in a positive manner with your students?
- Are your students made aware that they continually make choices, consciously and unconsciously, that largely determine their happiness and success in school and life?
- Do you always give your students choices (preferably three) concerning behavior that shows responsibility?
- Have you carefully taught, and have your students adequately learned, the ABCD levels of social development?
- When disruptions occur, do you ask questions in a noncoercive, nonthreatening manner that prompts student reflection and self-evaluation of behavior?
- If disruptive behavior continues, do you elicit a procedure or consequence from the student for redirecting future impulsive behavior?
- Do you use the hierarchy to promote a desire in students to put forth effort in learning?
You may wish to discuss these questions with your students to get their perspective as well.
Summary Rubric: Applying Marshall’s System in the Classroom
- Carefully review the 10 practices that damage teaching. Determine how you will avoid them. Specify the appropriate practices you will use in their place.
- Clarify and differentiate Theory X and Theory Y as approaches to managing students in the classroom. In order to use Marshall’s approach effectively, you will need to commit yourself to Theory Y.
- Place a card on your desk with the following three reminders: positivity, choice, reflection.
- Establish in your mind the nature and power of internal motivation. Think in specific terms how you will call on internal motivation while leaving external motivation aside.
- Thoroughly familiarize yourself with Marshall’s hierarchy of social development. Teach it to your students and put it in effect immediately.
- Make a chart for reminding yourself of the 25 tactics you can use to stimulate students to behave responsibly. Consciously practice three different ones every day.
- Write out how you will intervene when any of your students misbehave. Practice with a fellow student or teacher until the sequence of steps becomes automatic.
Chapter 11: How Does Craig Seganti Use Positive Teacher Leverage and Realistic Student Accountability to Establish Class Discipline?
Teacher Craig Seganti assures us that misbehavior is not an inevitable burden.
Seganti says his approach, which focuses on what works with students in the real world, is reality based, not theory based.
How to Get Any Student to Behave Well All of the Time
How to Not Enter into Useless Arguments with Students
Eliminating the Middle Man—The Myth of Giving Warnings
The Role of Accountability in Classroom Management
Stopping Problems Before They Get in the Classroom
Key Attitudes and Skills in Seganti’s Approach
His procedures may appear strict because he holds students accountable for their actions, but Seganti contends that is exactly what hard-to-manage students need, and further, that the most positive thing you can do for students is give them access to a good education in a classroom focused on learning.
Teacher Attitude That Promotes High-Quality Discipline and Teaching
Your attitude toward discipline sets in motion a dynamic that affects how students behave, for better or worse. The attitude Seganti advocates can be understood through the following four messages he conveys to his students:
- Any student who disrupts the class is interfering with other students’ constitutional rights to a good public education.
- We are not equals in the classroom. I am the expert, trained and experienced in how to teach. I make the decisions about how to do that. You are the students who are here to study under my guidance. Your job is to do your best to learn.
- The classroom is for academic learning. Everything we do in class will be aimed at learning. You must do your part, which is to focus and learn. If you are not willing to do that, you will need to end up somewhere else.
- I know you want to feel good about yourselves and I will help you do that. But you need to understand that self-esteem doesn’t come from messing around in the classroom. It comes from doing hard work and learning knowledge and skills that will serve you well in life.
The next messages are for teachers. They indicate operating principles that improve your ability to work with students:
- Actions.When dealing with students, emphasize actions. They speak far louder than words. It is worse than useless to spend time cajoling, arguing, and continually trying to justify your decisions to students. Just make good rules and enforce them without fail. No explanations are needed. If you don’t enforce your rules, students will act as though your rules don’t exist.
- Warnings.Giving students warnings is self-defeating and only wastes time. Students beyond primary grades know when they are misbehaving, so there is no need to warn them they are misbehaving or that you are thinking of doing something about it. You can spend your day (week, month, career) giving warnings instead of teaching. If you want to avoid students trying to manipulate you, forget the warnings. (Seganti does give students one warning, on the first day of class only, as we will see when we review his rules.)
- Rewards.Seganti does not believe in giving students rewards for learning. While he does want students to enjoy his classes, he emphasizes that a good education is the primary reward they get for their efforts and the only one that really counts. He says if you try to motivate students with gimmicks and pep talks, you send a poor message about education—that it is of so little value you need to bribe students to endure it. Seganti says if his students ask what their reward will be for behaving properly, he tells them it is a good education, which is priceless. He does go on to say, however, that he likes to provide students fun activities to do every so often, not so much as a reward for their efforts as to celebrate learning and show there can be (and should be) some fun and enjoyment in the classroom.
- Speaking.Learn how to talk effectively with students. (The suggestions presented here have to do with teaching information and proper behavior. If you were counseling students or commiserating with them, you would speak in a different manner.) Look at the following exchange as an example of what not to do.
- Teacher: Stop talking, Johnny
- Johnny: I wasn’t talking.
- Teacher: You were talking—I just saw you talking to Henry.
- Johnny: Well, Jason was talking. He started it.
- (and so forth, on and on)
- Seganti comments, “What’s your strategy here? Are you going to stand there arguing with Johnny about whether or not he was talking? That only perpetuates the problem.” The following shows the proper way of interacting with Johnny.
- Teacher: There is no talking in my class, Johnny—stay after school 15 minutes today for detention.
- Johnny: But I wasn’t talking!
- Teacher: Show up for detention. If you don’t want another 15 minutes, stop disrupting now.
Student Accountability and 11 Rules That Promote It
Seganti believes in holding students accountable for their behavior, whether good or bad. The basis for accountability consists of class rules of behavior. You must establish effective rules and then make sure students understand them clearly. Compose the rules yourself, before you see your students, and make copies to hand out. Every possible behavior that concerns your class, positive or negative, is to be addressed somewhere in the rules. You are the professional and you know how students should behave. Don’t waste time asking students to help you decide what the rules should be.
The first thing you should do when students arrive for class the first day is teach them exactly what the rules mean. There must be no misunderstanding. The students’ first assignment in class is to copy the rules neatly, sign them, and hand them in. From that point onward, students are held accountable for their every action in class. They can no longer claim they didn’t know. Following are rule topics Seganti advocates. The first two rules are given in Seganti’s words, and additional topics for rules are explained briefly. In his book Classroom Discipline 101 (2008a), you can find his exact wording for 11 rules and his suggestions for teaching them to students.
Seganti’s Rule 1 and Rule 2
You are to enter the classroom calmly and quietly and go immediately to your assigned seat. You are to sit at a 90-degree angle to your desk with your feet on the floor and good posture (spine straight).
How to Teach Rule 1 to Students
Stand in the door on the first day and teach this rule to each student as he or she enters. This procedure is immediately established as a rule, not an option. A student who enters the room improperly has defied a rule and is subject to the consequence you have established for violating rules, usually a 15-minute detention after school (consequences are explained later in this chapter). Once all students are seated, explain this rule again to the class as a whole.
Students are to show respect at all times and in all manners toward staff, others, and themselves. This includes all verbal and nonverbal forms of communication, including body language, facial expression, and tone of voice.
How to Teach Rule 2 to Students
When all students are in the room, read this rule once. Even in the wildest schools there is usually a window of time the first day when students are curious and will listen. Now, read it again, piece by piece. This can become a good lesson on nonverbal communication. Tell the students that most communication is nonverbal. Take your time here. Be a teacher—give examples. Tell the students, “If I give you a direction and you roll your eyes, it is just as disrespectful as if you insult me verbally, and you will get detention.” Act it out—“Suppose I say: Juan, open your book to page134.” Pretend to be Juan and roll your eyes. Explain again that eye rolling and other disrespectful actions are just as unacceptable as saying something rude and will be met with the same consequences.
Additional Topics for Rules
Work on Task
This topic centers on clarifying when students should be on task, how they should be working, what they should do when they have completed their assigned work, and when and how they may talk.
Teachers should begin by clarifying exactly what being on task and paying full attention mean. Seganti suggests that you act out for students what these requirements look like and do not look like. Then, have selected students demonstrate behavior that complies with and violates the rule. In addition, help them identify productive and respectful activities they can do when they have completed their work. This heads off the future manipulation technique in which students say “I’m done with my work.” Seganti is adamant that students must be trained to get their materials out immediately and be quietly at work by the time the bell rings. He says you will have to insist on this, or else students will begin to dawdle more and more when entering the room.
This topic centers on potential distractions that students might intentionally or inadvertently bring with them to class. Seganti provides a list of potential distractions and carefully explains exactly what he will do if any of those distractions appear in contradiction to the class rule. He explains that class time is devoted entirely to learning and strongly reiterates that nothing will be permitted to interfere with that learning time.
Read the rule aloud to the class and describe what will happen if it is violated. Use examples as necessary. The distractions are not to be brought into the classroom at all—or if they are present, they must be invisible and silent. One of the distractions Seganti highlights is chewing gum. He says he is famous for his “no chewing” rule, which helps make him manipulation-proof. Students sometimes appear to be chewing, but claim they are not, sticking their tongues out to prove it. Seganti says this act can earn three detentions—for chewing gum, for lying, and for making a rude gesture. As Seganti explains it, here is how this situation usually plays out:
- Teacher: Spit out the gum, Jane, and come after school for 10 minutes.
- Jane: I’m not chewing gum.
- Teacher: Well, there’s no chewing in my class, even if you aren’t chewing anything, so come to detention.
- Jane: But I’m not chewing anything!
- Teacher: I don’t argue with students. You can either spit out the gum or get suspended for defiance.
- (Jane then either spits out the gum or the teacher suspends her.)
Seganti says you won’t have to do this for long. Once or twice and everyone gets the idea you are manipulation-proof. Parents or administrators may complain if you suspend a student from class for merely chewing gum. If that happens, you point out that the student has violated two rules—one for chewing gum and another for noncompliance with teacher directions. This point will be addressed again when we explore the roles of administrators, counselors, and parents.
Beginning the Period
This topic centers on what students must be doing when the bell rings at the beginning of class and what will happen to them if they violate the rule.
Simply explain to students what the rule requires of them when the beginning bell rings. Although Seganti does not say so explicitly, it would be a good idea to have students practice complying with the rule, moving into full compliance at least several seconds before you pretend to ring the tardy bell.
Readiness for Work
This rule centers on how students should be prepared for class, which includes bringing any materials they need for immediate class participation. It also stipulates what students will not be allowed to do once the bell rings. This admonition covers several matters that might seem trivial, but are serious because they waste learning time.
It is likely that your students will have learned in other classes they can come to class without having at hand all the materials they need for successful learning. They may have the feeling that missing an item or two is not very bad. Seganti says to insist to them they are old enough to take responsibility for this requirement. He advocates firm requirements concerning pencil sharpening in particular, as students often use sharpening as a distraction and manipulation tactic. Unless you are insistent on compliance with this rule, your more disruptive students will be asking for various school-related materials all period long.
This topic centers on matters such as students calling out, leaving their seats, and dealing with the scrap paper and other trash that accumulates around desks and elsewhere in the room.
Have students act out the behaviors and procedures associated with speaking out, raising their hands, getting permission, and keeping the classroom environment neat. Show them the wrong way of doing things—such as raising your hand as you start speaking—and the right way—such as raising your hand, waiting for permission, then speaking. Have them practice everything you expect of them. Remind them that you cannot get around to answering each and every question promptly—sometimes they will have to wait a minute when you are busy.
Permissions and Procedures
This topic centers on permission and procedures for various activities, including leaving the room when necessary. You will be surprised by what Seganti requires of students who request restroom passes, but he says his tactic has worked wonders in stopping the debates between teacher and students on whether or not the student really has to go. If a student begs and squirms to prove the need is real, do the following:
- Teacher: Sure, here’s the pass—but you have to make up 10 minutes after school.
- Student: Huh? Why 10 minutes?
- Teacher: (Don’t say anything; just hold the hall pass and wait. The procedure has been stated. No need to repeat it.)
Teacher Requests and Directions
This topic centers on how students are to conduct themselves when the teacher asks them to do anything, such as change seats or pick up trash. Seganti has a steadfast way of interacting with students in these cases—he doesn’t argue. Instead, he tells students that if they feel the direction is unreasonable, they may arrange to discuss it with the school counselor, vice principal, or in a conference involving student, parent, and teacher. He does not use class time for arguing with students, insisting the limited time for learning is too valuable to waste in that way.
As before, read the rule aloud, then go back, explain, and have students practice compliant behavior in the manner expected. This rule must make it abundantly clear that you do not argue or debate discipline issues or directions with students. The focus is always directed to actions, not words.
End of Class
This topic centers on what students are to do when the bell rings at the end of class. Have students practice the procedure you require. Seganti suggests you make a bell noise and have students pack up their materials and then wait for you to say, “Okay, you are dismissed.” Don’t fall for the old “that’s not my paper” retort when it’s time to make sure the floor is clean. Students are accountable for their area.
System of Consequences
This topic centers on what will happen to any student who violates any of the class rules. This system, once it is presented so students understand it, is the only warning Seganti gives. If students who have violated any of the prior rules do not abide by the indicated consequences, they are suspended from class and not allowed to reenter until they have fulfilled the requirement.
By this time, you have carefully gone through how you expect students to conduct themselves in class. You and your students will be tired from reading and talking about them, but rules must be stressed hard the first day so there is no room for doubt about what is expected. The time investment is very effective in helping ensure things go smoothly the rest of the year.
Leverage That Ensures Students Comply with the Rules
Rules for making the class work effectively are no good unless you can enforce them. Therefore, you must create the mindset in every student that breaking the rules in your class is just not worth the effort. To establish that mindset you must have at your disposal some kind of leveragethat makes students decide to follow the rules. Seganti has determined that the most effective leverage for his classes is “Mr. Seganti’s famous 15-minute detention after school.” This detention is only slightly inconvenient: nevertheless, students dislike it. And because they can’t get out of it, it works all the better. Seganti calls this detention the “lever that can move boulders.” It promotes psychological compliance while causing very little resentment. It doesn’t punish teachers, either—they have to stay after school for a while anyway. A student who comes to your detention is tacitly agreeing that you are the authority. Once you have established that point, behavior problems dwindle.
But what if students simply don’t appear at detention as directed? That rarely happens, Seganti says, but if it does, you suspend the student from class, in accordance with the class rules, and don’t let the student back in until his or her parents have been notified and the detention has been served. Students quickly realize they simply can never get out of complying with detention. In a 2008 personal communication with the author of this book, Mr. Seganti made these further observations about students adjusting to the 15-minute detention:
Some students who are difficult to manage will not come to detention the first time you assign it, unless they are convinced they cannot get out of complying with the consequence. Therefore, they all must learn very quickly that it is better to show up than not. The whole system depends on the idea that testing the rules will bring more discomfort than simply following them. You must make it clear that if students do not show up for detention when it is assigned, they will be suspended from your class and not allowed to attend until they do so. They must see that you will indeed follow through on this requirement. Once this is clear, you will seldom be tested.
If you suspend a student from class, you will need to inform your administrator and the student’s parent or guardian. Preparations for doing so should be made in advance. Figure 11.1 presents Seganti’s protocol for calling parents.
Craig Seganti’s Protocol for Calling Parents
“Hello, Mrs. Smith? I’m Mr. Jones, James’s history teacher. James was disrupting my lesson today and I assigned him a 15-minute detention after school, but he didn’t come. As he knows, that means he is suspended from my class until he does two things—copy the class rules and come to detention for 15 minutes. Can you make sure he copies the rules for me and comes to detention tomorrow so he can return to class?”
Sometimes the parent will take the student’s side and say “What exactly did he do?” Then you can tell them “He was disrupting the lesson talking,” or “He defied instructions to change his seat,” or whatever. Sometimes a parent will misunderstand and say “You are suspending him for talking in class?” Answer like this: “No. I am suspending him for defiance of my rules and refusing to come to his 15-minute detention. As soon as he makes up his 15 minutes, he can return to class. Can you ensure that he does this and copies the rules for me?” If you get the parent’s assurance that James will come to detention the next day, you might delay the suspension until you see if he does.
If James comes to class the next day, you should say in front of the class, “James, as you know I talked to your mother last night and she assured me you are coming to detention today—is that correct?” (James says “yes.”) “Okay, then I will hold off the suspension until tomorrow. But let’s be clear that if you don’t show today you are suspended.” This exchange lets the rest of the class know what will happen if they don’t show up.
Seganti maintains that detention of 10 to 15 minutes is the most effective leverage available to most teachers, but he recognizes that after-school detention is difficult or impossible in many schools because students have to catch buses. He advises teachers who encounter an obstacle to discuss with their administrator ways in which after-school detention can be maintained. If no solution is forthcoming, Seganti suggests three alternatives:
- Arrange for students to serve detention during school time by going to a fellow teacher’s room for 10 or 15 minutes to copy rules—this could be done as a favor or as an exchange.
- If the whole class is misbehaving, stop and have everyone spend 15 minutes copying the rules. The well-behaved students seldom complain about this because they intuitively realize you are trying to help everyone.
- In cooperation with four fellow teachers, work out a detention schedule during lunch time. Each teacher can stay 20 minutes or so one day a week. This has the added advantage of establishing a consistent behavior code that involves other classes.
Management Tactics That Support Desirable Behavior
Seganti has identified several tactics teachers can use, both before and after they meet their students, to make this discipline plan more effective. Some of those tactics are presented here:
- Organize the room arrangement.The success of your program is affected by how you arrange your room physically. Have your desks in rows and, if you think students might deface the furniture, number each chair and desk so they remain together and students are accountable for them. Have everything in the room, including your materials, neat and organized—a sloppy room encourages sloppy behavior. Place one or two desks adjacent to your desk for students you feel are likely to be most disruptive. Put one desk in the back corner facing the wall, to use for in-class suspensions. If a student doesn’t show up for detention, but is not usually disruptive, put him or her in the back of the room facing the wall to copy the rules. Then if they come to detention that afternoon, they can rejoin class the next day.
- Cultivate quiet.Cultivate a quiet classroom for a week or two with no group work and minimal talking—give a lot of reading and written work to acclimate the students to the idea that this classroom is quiet. These habits are very powerful. When students get used to them, you can move into more vocal lessons.
- Be at the ready.Have your referrals, detention logs, teaching props, and parent phone numbers at the ready.
- Dress professionally.In various walks of life, people who are leaders dress differently from those with whom they work. You see this, for example, in the military, religious institutions, and even the workaday world. Seganti believes the way you dress helps determine the impact you have on students by separating you from them psychologically, just as a priest looks different from the congregation or a general from a private. Seganti advises male teachers to wear ties and female teachers to dress in a professional manner. By looking professional, you project a look of authority; if you dress in a way that says, “I am one of you,” then students will tend to treat you as one of them. When you establish a psychological separation from your students, you make them less likely to challenge your authority.
- Make eye contact.Looking students in the eye and having them look you in the eye reinforces your authority. When you give a direction, and it looks as though your students are not committed to it, get their undivided attention. Say, “Look at me. Did you understand?” Remember, you are looking for full nonverbal and verbal compliance with your directions.
- Give something back to students.Teach in a way you can be truly proud of. Teach useful information in an engaging manner that persists all period long. Students are not eager to cooperate with teachers who show little sparkle and assign meaningless tasks. If you teach as though you don’t give a darn, students will think you don’t care about learning and are using rules as a power trip. But when you combine tight boundaries with teaching that is interesting and valuable, students see that you care enough about them to work hard for their benefit. They will be thankful there is an adult around who can take charge and help them become more competent.
- Organize procedures.Good organization is your best friend. Make sure you have procedures for everything—seating charts, labeled desks, referrals, comments to use when students try to manipulate you. Know exactly what the students should be doing from bell to bell.
- Listen to students.Listen attentively to students. Don’t listen merely to what students say. Listen for the motivation behind their words.
- Speak in statements.When speaking with students about discipline matters, use statements, not questions—e.g., “This is work time,” rather than “Why aren’t you working?”
- Educate students.Recognize that your job is to educate students, not to counsel them or deal with emotional problems they may have. That’s what counselors are for.
- Hold students accountable for proper behavior.Recognize that your students already know how to behave properly. You don’t have to teach them that. Your rules for the class are simply to make students accountable. Your job with older students is not to teach behavior but to educate. Every student can understand that message.
- Prepare.Know in advance exactly what action you will take every time a student breaks a rule.
- Hold the line.Do not settle for anything less than a quiet, respectful, focused classroom. Repeat all procedures as often as necessary to get it. Make sure students stay on task and complete their work. It is not enough just to be quiet.
- Keep ’em busy.Keep your students busy from bell to bell. Don’t have any down time and don’t leave any time for talking.
- Review the rules.You can have a near-perfect classroom if you continue having students review the required rules and procedures. Do this every day if necessary until they get it. In a 2008 personal communication with the author of this text, Mr. Seganti commented that feedback he has received from teachers shows the powerful effect of teaching class rules two days in a row. You may say to your students, “Everybody got this yet? No?” (Laughingly) “Okay, we will go over the rules again tomorrow.”
- Assess yourself.Review your performance every day. Identify mistakes and figure out what action you can take next time to get a better outcome.
- Take care of things.Do not count on administrative or parental support except to ensure that your established consequences are enforced.
- Don’t be manipulated.Students will invariably manipulate you if you allow them to do so. To students, it is a game. They will argue, waste time, cause you to become exasperated, and so forth. Seganti devotes much attention to this matter and shows teachers how to avoid being manipulated. The dialogs that follow indicate what you should do when students try to manipulate you. Notice Seganti responds to students by stating a rule, rather than arguing with students. This tactic keeps attention on the teacher’s agenda (in this case, following the rules) instead of moving attention to the student’s agenda (such as wasting time, getting the better of the teacher, or trying to get out of detention).
- Rule 1. You see Miguel talking.
- You: Miguel, that’s a 15-minute detention for talking.
- Miguel: I wasn’t talking.
- You: I don’t argue with students.
- Rule 2. You see Megan chewing gum.
- You: Megan, that’s a 15-minute detention for chewing gum.
- Megan: I’m not chewing gum.
- You: Fine, but since giving the appearance of chewing gum is against the rules, you have detention anyway. [Or you might say] If you don’t spit it out I will have to send you out for defiance.
- Seganti provides more advice on answering manipulators in a piece called “Mr. Seganti’s Big Kahuna Manipulation Destroyer” (2008a, p. 126). The manipulation destroyer he describes is silence. Seganti explains that when students make manipulative, irrelevant comments like those in the preceding dialogs, you just look at the students and say nothing. After all, there is no real answer to a manipulative question. A student is talking. You say, “Stop talking.” They say, “I wasn’t talking.” What good can come of arguing back and forth in a silly exchange? So try just saying nothing. Just look at the student, deadpan, showing that you will not engage in the matter. Silence stops most manipulation in its tracks. The student may make a last feeble protestation such as, “Man, I wasn’t even talking,” but the matter will usually end there. If the student does continue talking, assign detention if you haven’t done so already.
Putting Seganti’s Approach into Effect
Before you let students through the door of your classroom, you need to make sure they are ready to get down to business. Do not wait inside the room for everyone to enter any way they like, and then try to calm them down and get their attention afterwards. When they approach your room they may be noisy, rude, jumpy, eating, distracted, or doing other things that are not conducive to academics. Don’t allow any of this. Instead, make sure that as students walk through your doorway they are moving into a mindset for learning. Be attentive to students’ body language, not just their words.
Types of Students to Look For
There are roughly three types of students you should look for on the first day of school:
- Type A students are polite, prepared, and ready to enter class. Give them their instructions quickly and send them in.
- Type B students are basically respectful but appear a bit rowdy or distracted. Tell them to stop, take a deep breath, calm down, and then get ready to enter the class in an orderly manner. Make sure they look you in the eye and are clear about your directions—then send them in.
- Type C students appear disrespectful, arrogant, and/or rowdy. These are the students who are most likely to present problems. Show the class they are not going to be a problem for you. Establish right away that poor behavior in your presence will not go unchallenged. Have these students stand to the side while the rest of the class enters. Every small thing you do here helps or hurts your cause. You save many problems later on when students see that you are on top of everything from the start. Get compliance from all of these Type C students before you let them enter. Direct them to a specific seat right next to your desk if possible. If they are noncompliant, argumentative, or rude, give them the simple choice of complying or being suspended for defiance. Do this as calmly as possible. You can say, “I don’t argue with students. You can follow my directions or be sent out of the room for defiance.” This is what sets your authority.
The Doorway and Establishing Expectations
Stand in your doorway and stop every student briefly before they enter. You might have to block the entrance with your body. Hand each student a copy of the class rules and say, “I want you to go directly to the seat I have assigned you without talking and in an orderly manner. You are to sit down quietly, take out your materials and immediately copy these rules onto a separate sheet of paper. Do this without talking. Do you understand?” Point to the exact seat you want them to sit down in. Try to repeat the part about “being quiet” and “not talking” three times before you let them in. Conveying these messages of “strictness” will help your classroom atmosphere enormously.
If any students say they already know how to behave, or if they ask why they need to copy the rules, or if they do or say anything disrespectful, say “I gave you a direction. You need to follow it.” Do not enter into a discussion or rationalize your requirements. Don’t fool yourself by thinking that copying the rules is a small matter that can just be let go. From the beginning, get students to realize they have to comply with all your directions, great and small. Before long, that is what they will do.
If students are disrespectful, do not have their materials, or in any other way appear unprepared for class, do not let them through the door. They can borrow what they need from a friend, but they can’t enter the room until they have all of their materials.
If their nonverbal cues say they are not ready to study, have them stand to the side. Tell them what you expect and say honestly, “To me, you don’t look ready to study.” When they manage to meet your standards of a proper attitude for entry to the class, let them in. Otherwise just wait. There is no hurry.
If any students begin disrupting after entering, call them back to try again. You can say something like, “Now try again—go to your seat quietly, take out your materials without talking, and copy the rules.” If the student interrupts while you are speaking, say “Do not interrupt me again. This is not a conversation but a simple direction you can comply with, or else leave the room for defiance.” Do this every day until students enter in a manner that meets your standards for entering and getting to work. Repeat this procedure for as long as necessary. Students do not resent it and they soon respond well. They will even start saying your entry rules before you do.
Assign seats the first day while students are copying the rules. Because they have not yet been taught the rules, say the following:
“I’m going to assign seats now. When I tell you where to sit, get up immediately and move to that desk without questioning or complaining. There is no discussion about it, and if you try to engage me in a discussion about your assigned seat you will be sent from the room. Just move to your seat right away. Does everyone understand?”
Then, as you call roll, assign the seats.
Learning Students’ Names
Memorize students’ names as quickly as possible. Seganti advises doing the following while students are quietly copying the rules:
- Take roll. Call out the first student’s name and assign a seat (alphabetical order is easiest at first and least likely to get you a discussion).
- As individual students move to their seats, say their name five times quickly in your head to help memorize it.
- Call the second student’s name. Assign a seat. Say the name five times quickly to yourself and memorize it. Then repeat the names of the first and second students (in your head, that is).
- Do this for the first five students. Then review each of their names in your head against the seating chart to see if you have memorized the first five, and put the name to the face.
- Do this with each subsequent group of five students, and review after each group of five—so, after 10 students, you go back to the first and see if you can say all 10 in your head. You should have the names now on the seating chart and can use it for review. After 15, go back to the first again, and so forth. Re-memorize the ones you forgot by checking the seating chart. Their names will come back to you quickly. Seganti says this procedure takes a lot of concentration but is easier than it sounds.
Establishing leverage involves clarifying for students the provisions of the 15-minute detention consequence. This tactic was explained earlier in the chapter.
Excluding Students from Your Class
In Seganti’s approach, only three things call for students to get sent from the room—defiance, repeated disruption, and gross disrespect. The following scenarios depict those reasons and are presented in Seganti’s words.
Reason 1: Defiance
I tell Judy to change her seat. She says “Why?” I reply that I do not argue with students.
She does not immediately change her seat and I assign her a 15-minute detention and tell her to change her seat. She continues to argue or just doesn’t move. I write up a referral, whether or not she moves at this point, and send her from the class for defiance. She goes to the counselor. I have written on the referral that Judy is suspended for defiance until she comes to detention and copies the class rules.
Five minutes later Judy returns from the counselor’s office with a note saying “Student counseled—please re-admit student to class.” If I re-admit Judy now, I will be making a big mistake. I say to her, “No, you are suspended from my class. Come to detention after school today for 15 minutes, copy the rules, and you may reenter tomorrow.”
At my first opportunity, I explain to the counselor once again how my system works, and that the only help I need from him or her is in enforcing my requirement that Judy comes to detention and copies the rules. If Judy does not meet my requirement, I will send her back again for defiance of my detention rule. I don’t care if the counselor provides her counseling or not, so long as Judy comes to detention and copies the rules. Judy can copy rules in the counselor’s office and she can be moved to somebody else’s class, but will not be re-admitted to my class until she copies the rules and does the 15-minute detention. The matter is simply about the necessity that Judy comply with my class rules.
Reason 2: Repeated Disruption
Disruption is anything that interferes with student concentration in class. It might be a little buzz of talk that I have to try to talk over. It might be a student tapping a pencil on the desk, or rumpling papers, or loudly sighing to show disinterest in the class, or turning away from me while I am talking. Those are all disruptions. They are specified in the class rules and are not allowed. Let’s say there is a lot of buzz in class, an undercurrent of noise I can’t pinpoint. I’m not sure where to start—no one is being really bad, it seems, nothing that would normally call for detention. So, not knowing what else to do, I say “Quiet!” to the whole class.
They quiet down for a minute, like boiling water does when you cut the heat. But then it starts to boil again and you say, “Quiet! Okay, quiet down!” This can go on for quite a while—in some cases for an entire teaching career. What do I do?
- I start with individuals. I pick one student. “Brian, you are disrupting the class. Be quiet or come to detention.”
- Brian replies, “Everyone else is talking.”
- I ignore his comment, write down his name, and say, “Come 15 minutes after school today. If you continue disrupting I will have to suspend you from the class.”
I don’t wait for the big disruptions. I make students adjust to the boundary being squeaky tight. My standard is no disruption during my lesson—not even a little. Follow this advice and, tomorrow, count the times you say “quiet” to your class. If it is more than once per class, that adds up to more than five times a day, and from there the incidence is likely to escalate. So, I have the counselor ensure that Brian will come to detention for 15 minutes that day and copy the rules in the meantime. If he doesn’t, I won’t re-admit him.
Reason 3: Gross Disrespect
If a student swears at you or insults you or engages in any other highly offensive behavior, immediately suspend the student, send him or her from your class, and demand a parent conference as well as the detention and copying the rules or other consequence you use. Any of these things should include your basic consequence of detention because some students would rather have their parents called than have to serve detention. If it looks like a student is going to be a real problem, start a paper trail on him or her right away. You need to minimize the damage they do to your teaching and other students’ education.
Role of Administrators and Parents
You should make sure your administrators understand the logic, rules, and procedures of your approach. They don’t want to be caught off guard if a parent complains, and they need to know how they can help you make your program work. They will usually be pleased to know you are handling discipline problems on your own and only need their help as backup when students are suspended from your class.
As for parents, Seganti doesn’t believe they will be of much help to you in discipline matters. He says he cannot recall a single instance in his career when a parent conference had a significant long-term effect on a student’s behavior. Parent conferences are simply not a consequence that students care about. However, they are useful in establishing a paper trail on students who chronically misbehave and defy the teacher. Administrators have no problem if you send a student from your room for defiance, so it is helpful to document your calls to parents when you give detention for serious and repetitive breaches of the rules, especially those rules over which parents have some control, such as having class materials in hand. When you talk with parents, most will listen to the problem and say something like, “Okay, I’ll talk to her/him.” Occasionally parents will take the student’s side and express concern that you are not doing your job properly. When that happens, don’t go on the defensive. Explain your rules and ask the parent if they see anything unfair in them (they won’t). Explain that their child has not shown up for detention or continually violates the rules, which interferes with your teaching and educational rights of other students.
Closing Comment from Mr. Seganti
Our schools are currently doing things out of sequence—trying to let students know all their rights and encouraging self-expression and independent thought, and so on, before working to establish basic respect for others and the environment. Schools seem oblivious of the misery they cause students and teachers by emphasizing things in this order. In a more effective sequence, respect must be established first, as a fundamental principle of all classroom interactions (comment provided to author by Craig Seganti, 2008).
Summary Rubric: Applying Seganti’s Approach in the Classroom
- Before classes begin, have your discipline plan carefully organized and be ready to teach it to your students.
- When students first arrive, use Seganti’s directions for admitting them to the room, assigning seats, and having students copy the class rules. You might use Seganti’s rules or modify them to suit your needs.
- Explain and demonstrate to students the leverage you will use to help them follow the rules. This leverage might be the 15-minute detention or an effective alternative that can be used in your school.
- From the beginning, make your class management procedures evident. Dress and conduct yourself as a professional. Place your desks in rows. Have all materials organized neatly. Have your referrals, detention logs, teaching props, and parent phone numbers at the ready. Have procedures organized for all class activities and teach the procedures to students. Make sure they know what they should be doing from bell to bell. Speak in statements, not questions—“This is work time,” rather than “Why aren’t you working?” Know in advance exactly what action you will take every time a student breaks a rule. Hold the line. Keep students busy.
- Take care of discipline matters yourself. No backup is required from administrators, counselors, or parents except to support the process students must follow when temporarily suspended from your class.