10 Approaches to Better Discipline
Helping Students Manage Their Own Behavior
All discipline problems are not alike. Effective teachers match different approaches to different problems. Here are some approaches from Inspiring Discipline by Merrill Harmin (NEA Professional Library 1995) that may prove useful to you.
With a simple authority statement, teachers can exercise authority with minimum distress and emotion. By employing this strategy, you also show students how a person can use authority respectfully and reasonably. The Strategy calls for the teacher to voice disapproval authoritatively, promptly, and as unemotionally as possible.
By redirecting student energy, a teacher can end misbehavior without creating negative feelings. Instead of focusing on the misbehavior, this strategy calls on the teacher to turn student attention to something else, preferably something worth attending to. This is a useful approach when direct confrontation is either unnecessary or imprudent.
A calm reminder can help students understand what they are supposed to do, in a way that does not communicate negative emotions.
A next-time message can correct students' behavior without making them feel discouraged. The strategy calls for the teacher to tell students what to do next time, without focusing on what was done this time.
A check-yourself message can remind students to manage themselves responsibly. The strategy involves the teacher telling students to check what they have done, implying that when they do so, they will see what corrections are necessary. This strategy can be used whenever students become careless.
A silent response strategy gives students room to solve their own problems. This strategy also provides a way of avoiding hasty, inappropriate responses. A teacher using this strategy reacts to an act of misbehavior by making a mental note only and considering later what, if any, action is appropriate.
A clock focus strategy can settle student restlessness and increase student powers of concentration. The strategy calls for the teacher to announce "clock focus," a cue to students to stand and watch the second hand of a clock make full circles, as many rotations as they choose, and then to sit and resume their individual work. The strategy can be used whenever students need to be settled down, particularly young students working at individual tasks.
By using the visitor's chair strategy, a teacher can position a student close-by without communicating disapproval. The teacher using this strategy asks a student to sit in a "visitor's chair" close to where the teacher is sitting or standing. Students know they can return to their own seats whenever they feel ready for responsible self-management.
"I" statements can help teachers communicate honestly without generating defensiveness or guilt. Honest "I" statements also help teachers model a valuable interpersonal skill. The strategy calls for the teacher to talk honestly about personal needs and feelings, making "I" statements, avoiding comments about what "you" did or "you" said. This approach is especially useful when upsetting feelings emerge.
An undone-work response is a useful approach for reacting when students fail to do required work. A teacher using this strategy avoids a blaming response and instead aims to create a growth-producing response. This approach can be used whenever a student has not completed work on time.
Merrill Harmin. 1995. Inspiring Discipline. Washington, D.C. NEA Professional Library.