Academic Discipline

Use Positive Discipline Practices
Discipline Prevention and Intervention Strategies
Discipline Prevention
Discipline Interventions

Young children need play to learn but they also need to be introduced at an early age to the disciplines that it takes to be an adult so a context for making decisions about the rewards and punishments should be established early in the classroom. This discipline has to be developed in creative ways. The old school method of using “fear,” or “rewards” is self-defeating. The young child should be educated using tools that promote self-discipline. That is, the activity is so interesting or so enjoyable to the child that they will practice self-discipline in order to accomplish the activity goals. As the child grows older he will have in his subconscious the value of self-discipline and it will be incorporated into every aspect of the child’s life and into adulthood.

Research shows that “discipline” is the primary concern of beginning teachers and an ongoing issue that creates “burn out” for maturing teachers. Accordingly, child discipline is still an important issue in the educational process. As children develop many behavioral problems can be traces to the growth process of the executive functions. The key in understanding child discipline is to understand how the growth process works and the ability to identify the difference between abnormal behavioral and behavior which is part of the normal human developmental process.

The following are common classroom behaviors that can lead to discipline problems:

Boredom – Students who are bored will frequently look around the room. The source of their boredom is that the work is too easy or too hard, or it lacks relevance. To help the situation, the teacher should position themselves where they can see most students. Learn how and why this is taking place; re-envision or revise the assignment.

Frustration – If students are frustrated, it is often because the work is too difficult or because they can do it easily. They usually are silent and make no contribution. To remedy this, teachers can move about the work area, create groups of students with different abilities, give praise or support, ask questions that struggling students are afraid to ask.

Low Self-Esteem – The origin of low self-esteem comes from the student’s many past failures which cause them to shut down. To help, the teacher should ask good questions, support individual students, and spend extra time with students.
From WikiEducator Attribute Resource (2008)

Use Positive Discipline Practices

Kidron & Fleischman (2006) tell us that threats, punishments, and extrinsic rewards might keep a lid on negative behavior but will not necessarily promote prosocial behavior. Schools can best encourage prosocial behavior by using consistent positive disciplinary practices that include clear expectations, discussions, and modeling. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (, a program distributed by the U.S. Department of Education, is an example of this approach. The primary prevention component of this approach is teaching and encouraging expected prosocial behavior among all students, across all school settings, and by all staff members.

Research has shown that implementation of the program can improve students’ behavior and academic performance (Luiselli, Putnam, Handler, & Feinberg, 2005; Metzler, Biglan, Rusby, & Sprague, 2001).

In addition, because these programs depend on teachers’ ability to display empathic and caring behavior, schools should not implement such a program unless staff members are motivated to support the program and receive the training they need to implement it (Osher, Dwyer, & Jackson, 2004) (p. 90).

Discipline Prevention and Intervention Strategies

Cornett (1999) has listed in her book The Arts as meaning Makers a list of discipline prevention tips:

Discipline Prevention

1. Create an inviting classroom environment – Consider your room a living room and bring in rugs, art, and music.

2. Be the teacher you would want for yourself – Model what you expect in the way of attitude, courtesy, respect, and enthusiasm for learning. Listen to students using “active listening” techniques.

3. Enjoy the kids and let them know it – Tell them they are the best! Laugh with students and share humor with them. No sarcasm. Start with a riddle, cartoon, or poem related to the lesson. Write down specific positive behaviors on post-its and give them to students to keep in a “positive post-its” folder. Put students’ names on the board for positive contributions to class.

4. A few rules or consequences are necessary – Post them. Start out firm and allow students to “earn” more and more freedom. Examples. “I Care rules” and “Fighting Fair rules.” (Focus on respect and courtesy. Be a model!) Involve students in making rules (e.g., role play: “Show me how you’ll look when you are really listening” and “In groups of three, show me a scene of showing respect”).

5. Teach using the principle of variety – Change method and integrate the arts!

6. Explain the real-life connections – between school and school work.

7. Do give choices within limits – (e.g., “When you finish . . . you can either . . . or . . .”).

8. Interest and attention are essential! – Research results show that interest accounts for as much as twenty-five times the variance in student success:

• Get attention before starting a lesson
• Use signals (e.g., a rhythm, secret word, chant, sign language)
• Stop during the lesson if you don’t have attention

9. State your expectation – in a direct, businesslike way (e.g., “I need . . .” Use EPR (Every Student Response theory).

10. Set up classroom routines

• Assign jobs and responsibilities for running the class
• Have a predictable routine (e.g., opening of class with poem, song, riddle, or cartoon)
• Post a daily agenda
• Tell students the focus and goals of lessons

11. Cause students to believe you know important things

• Let students know you read books, like to dance, sing, or draw
• No one wants to be around blah know-nothing people who can’t do anything and seem to have few interests
• Ask open or fat questions to get more thought and participation (e.g., “What did you learn about . . . ?” versus “Who was the main character?”)

12. Intrinsic motivation is more important than concrete rewards – The research is clear: extrinsic can harm interest.

• Use stickers and stamps sparingly and only as “symbols” of hard work
• Focus on learning for its own worth and how it relates to the real world
• If you use extrinsic reinforcers, remember they must:

1. Be intermittent and phased out as soon as possible,
2. Be focused on privileges students want versus “things,”
3. Show students they are making progress toward the reinforcer
4. Use frequent daily or hourly points to start out with, rather than some vague “certificate” at the end of the week.

13. Proximity

• Stand or sit close and circulate around the room as you teach
• Vary the pattern to give each child a chance to be close to you
• “Yardstick”: walk about three steps toward a non-listener and he will usually be brought back to the lesson or stand between one or more students making a disturbance
• Use the two-finger touch technique or touch a student’s paper or desk as you walk around to focus attention on it (p. 433)

14. Let students sit where they want:

• Until they show they cannot learn in that spot
• Show them how to establish personal space

15. Expect that students will have bad days, too:

• Give a coupon for turning in homework late one time a grading
• period
• Allow use of the “pass” option, occasionally, during questioning

16. Send silent signals to students

• Use sign language to praise
• Nod your hear and make eye contact

Discipline Interventions (p. 434)

1. Ignore a behavior unless it interferes with the learning of others. Follow up with a private conference with the student who perpetually is a problem. Some teachers keep a camera handy to take pictures (even if there isn’t always film in it).

2. Never threaten, but if you make a promise, carry it out. Be consistent.

3. Talk to repeat offenders individually and privately. Focus the conference on what you observed, what you expect and why, and ask, “What can ‘you do to solve your problem?” Do not humiliate since you wouldn’t want this done to you. Set behavior goals.

4. Encourage shy or hesitant speakers. Nod your head “yes” and smile as they speak.

5. Remember to start fresh each day. Greet children and make them feel welcome. Be positive at the start and throughout each day. Prevent problems by displaying an enthusiastic “can-do, will-do, want-to-do” attitude.

6. Volume (teacher) should be lowered or use silence and pauses to get attention.

7. Elevate students with descriptive feedback versus praise. Say, “John, you have three different colors on your quilt piece so far” (praise just controls and may be empty).

8. Never get in the habit of casually discussing problems of students with other teachers. This is unprofessional and may put unfair labels on kids. Never talk about a student in front of other students – as if they aren’t listening.

9. Time outs away from the group should include a chance to return to the group when they can follow the rules. Before allowing a child to leave time out, ask what rule was broken and discuss how the child will behave the next time if confronted with a similar situation.

10. Institute consequences that are hierarchical and appropriate

• A warning is a courtesy we all appreciate.
• Take away one minute of recess at a time, instead of a whole recess
• Never assign sentence writing as a consequence because this makes writing seem like a punishment!
• Do not allow some students to “get away” with not doing their share of cleanup or not take responsibility after an activity in the classroom
• Loss of privilege is appropriate here

11. On the spot assistance: Make eye contact, move toward the student, and state your expectation (e.g., “Joe, I want you to sit in your chair and start writing”). Give THE EYE. Attack the problem, not the person. Mention names as you teach (e.g., “This morning Pat was saying she thought . . . and now . . .”). Say a child’s name before asking a question to help them “tune in.”

12. Negative remarks don’t solve problems. “Stop talking and get back to work” (negative) versus “Susan, what do you need to do and how can I help you do it?” (positive)

13. State what you want children TO DO versus NOT TO DO:

• Instead of “Don’t talk,” say “Listen”
• Address the group as a first step: “There are people who are talking who need to listen.”