Effective Classroom Discipline and Management Tips, Ideas, Strategies Life Lessons Written by Mostafa Ewees (PhD) Stanford University
11 Techniques for Better Classroom Discipline Here are eleven techniques that you can use in your classroom that will help you achieve effective group management and control. They have been adapted from an article called : “A Primer on Classroom Discipline: Principles Old and New” by Thomas R. McDaniel, Phi Delta Kappan , September 1986.
1. Focusing Be sure you have the attention of everyone in your classroom before you start your lesson. Don’t attempt to teach over the chatter of students who are not paying attention. Inexperienced teachers sometimes think that by beginning their lesson, the class will settle down. The children will see that things are underway now and it is time to go to work.
Sometimes this works, but the children are also going to think that you are willing to compete with them, that you don’t mind talking while they talk, or that you are willing to speak louder so that they can finish their conversation even after you have started the lesson. They get the idea that you accept their inattention and that it is permissible to talk while you are presenting a lesson.
The focusing technique means that you will demand their attention before you begin. It means that you will wait and not start until everyone has settled down. Experienced teachers know that silence on their part is very effective. They will punctuate their waiting by extending it 3 to 5 seconds after the classroom is completely quiet. Then they begin their lesson using a quieter voice than normal. A soft spoken teacher often has a calmer, quieter classroom than one with a stronger voice. Her students sit still in order to hear what she says.
2. Direct Instruction Uncertainty increases the level of excitement in the classroom. The technique of direct instruction is to begin each class by telling the students exactly what will be happening. The teacher outlines what he and the students will be doing this period. He may set time limits for some tasks.
An effective way to marry this technique with the first one is to include time at the end of the period for students to do activities of their choosing. The teacher may finish the description of the hour’s activities with: “And I think we will have some time at the end of the period for you to chat with your friends, go to the library, or catch up on work for other classes.” The teacher is more willing to wait for class attention when he knows there is extra time to meet his goals and objectives. The students soon realize that the more time the teacher waits for their attention, the less free time they have at the end of the hour.
3. Monitoring The key to this principle is to circulate. Get up and get around the room. While your students are working, make the rounds. Check on their progress .
An effective teacher will make a pass through the whole room about two minutes after the students have started a written assignment. She checks that each student has started, that the children are on the correct page, and that everyone has put their names on their papers. The delay is important. She wants her students to have a problem or two finished so she can check that answers are correctly labeled or in complete sentences. She provides individualized instruction as needed.
Students who are not yet quite on task will be quick to get going as they see her approach. Those that were distracted or slow to get started can be nudged along. The teacher does not interrupt the class or try to make general announcements unless she notices that several students have difficulty with the same thing. The teacher uses a quiet voice and her students appreciate her personal and positive attention.
4. Modeling McDaniel tells us of a saying that goes “Values are caught, not taught.” Teachers who are courteous, prompt, enthusiastic, in control, patient and organized provide examples for their students through their own behavior. The “do as I say, not as I do” teachers send mixed messages that confuse students and invite misbehavior. If you want students to use quiet voices in your classroom while they work, you too will use a quiet voice as you move through the room helping youngsters.
5. Non-Verbal Cuing A standard item in the classroom of the 1950’s was the clerk’s bell. A shiny nickel bell sat on the teacher’s desk. With one tap of the button on top he had everyone’s attention. Teachers have shown a lot of ingenuity over the years in making use of non-verbal cues in the classroom. Some flip light switches. Others keep clickers in their pockets. Non-verbal cues can also be facial expressions, body posture and hand signals. Care should be given in choosing the types of cues you use in your classroom. Take time to explain what you want the students to do when you use your cues.
6. Environmental Control A classroom can be a warm cheery place. Students enjoy an environment that changes periodically. Study centers with pictures and color invite enthusiasm for your subject. Young people like to know about you and your interests. Include personal items in your classroom. A family picture or a few items from a hobby or collection on your desk will trigger personal conversations with your students. As they get to know you better, you will see fewer problems with discipline.
Just as you may want to enrich your classroom, there are times when you may want to impoverish it as well. You may need a quiet corner with few distractions. Some students will get caught up in visual exploration. For them, the splash and the color is a siren that pulls them off task. They may need more “vanilla” and less “rocky-road.” Have a quiet place where you can steer these youngsters. Let them get their work done first and then come back to explore and enjoy the rest of the room.
7. Low-Profile Intervention Most students are sent to the principal’s office as a result of confrontational escalation. The teacher has called them on a lesser offense, but in the moments that follow, the student and the teacher are swept up in a verbal maelstrom. Much of this can be avoided when the teacher’s intervention is quiet and calm.
An effective teacher will take care that the student is not rewarded for misbehavior by becoming the focus of attention. She monitors the activity in her classroom, moving around the room. She anticipates problems before they occur. Her approach to a misbehaving student is inconspicuous. Others in the class are not distracted.
While lecturing to her class this teacher makes effective use of name-dropping. If she sees a student talking or off task, she simply drops the youngster’s name into her dialogue in a natural way. “And you see, David, we carry the one to the tens column.” David hears his name and is drawn back on task. The rest of the class doesn’t seem to notice.
8. Assertive Discipline This is traditional limit setting authoritarianism. When executed as presented by Lee Canter (who has made this form a discipline one of the most widely known and practiced) it will include a good mix of praise. This is high profile discipline. The teacher is the boss and no child has the right to interfere with the learning of any student. Clear rules are laid out and consistently enforced.
9. Assertive I-Messages A component of Assertive Discipline, these I-Messages are statements that the teacher uses when confronting a student who is misbehaving. They are intended to be clear descriptions of what the student is suppose to do. The teacher who makes good use of this technique will focus the child’s attention first and foremost on the behavior he wants, not on the misbehavior. “I want you to...” or “I need you to...” or “I expect you to...”
The inexperienced teacher may incorrectly try “I want you to stop...” only to discover that this usually triggers confrontation and denial. The focus is on the misbehavior and the student is quick to retort: “I wasn’t doing anything!” or “It wasn’t my fault...” or “Since when is there a rule against...” and escalation has begun.
These I-Messages are an expression of our feelings. Thomas Gordon, creator of Teacher Effectiveness Training (TET), tells us to structure these messages in three parts. First, include a description of the child’s behavior. “When you talk while I talk……” Second, relate the effect this behavior has on the teacher. “…I have to stop my teaching…” and third, let the student know the feeling that it generates in the teacher. “…which frustrates me.”
A teacher distracted by a student who was constantly talking while he tried to teach, once made this powerful expression of feelings: “ I cannot imagine what I have done that I do not deserve the respect from you I get from the others in this class. If I have been rude to you or inconsiderate in any way, please let me know. I feel as though I have some how offended you and now you are unwilling to show me respect.” The student did not talk during his lectures again for many weeks.
11. Positive Discipline Use classroom rules that describe the behaviors you want instead of listing things the students cannot do. Instead of “no-running in the room,” use “move through the building in an orderly manner.” Instead of “no fighting,“ use “settle conflicts appropriately.” Instead of “no gum chewing,” use “leave gum at home.” Refer to your rules as expectations. Let your students know this is how you expect them to behave in your classroom. Make ample use of praise. When you see good behavior, acknowledge it. This can be done verbally, of course, but it doesn’t have to be. A nod, a smile or a “thumbs up” will reinforce the behavior .
This doesn’t work!!!! There are some techniques, however, that should be avoided. Linda Albert surveyed dozens of teachers, asking them what methods have backfired for them. Here they are as she has presented them in her book A Teacher’s Guide to Cooperative Discipline , (American Guidance Service, 1989). After 27 years in elementary and middle school classrooms, I can honestly say I have tried most of these techniques. Linda is right. They may work a few times, but not over the long haul. Techniques that backfire include :
Please rate each technique by least effectiveness 1-5. 1-being “not so bad”, 5-being “Oh my Gosh! That was horrible!”
raising my voice
· saying “I’m the boss here”
· insisting on having the last word
· using tense body language, such as rigid posture or clenched hands
· using degrading, insulting, humiliating, or embarrassing put-downs
generalizing about students by making remarks such as “All you kids are the same”
· making unsubstantiated accusations
· holding a grudge
· throwing a temper tantrum
· mimicking the student
· making comparisons with siblings or other students
· commanding, demanding, dominating
· rewarding the student
MAJOR CONCEPTS COVERED BY HARRY K. WONG 1. The three characteristics of an effective teacher are: (a) has good classroom management skills (b) teaches for mastery (c) has positive expectations for student success. 2. Your expectations of your students will greatly influence their achievement in your class and in their lives. 3. Treat students as though they already are what they can be, and you help them to be capable of becoming what they will be. 4. Call (or write) each home before school begins and again within two weeks. Teachers + Parents = Good Students
5. What you do on the first day of school will determine your success for the rest of the year. 6. Have the room ready for instruction, and make it invitational. 7. Stand at the door and greet the students. 8. Give each student a seating assignment and a seating chart. 9. There must be an assignment posted, and in a consistent location, when the students enter the room. 10. Start each class with an assignment - immediately. Do not take roll when class begins.
11. Position yourself in the room near the students: problems are proportional to distance. 12. Credibility: Display your diploma and credentials with pride. 13. Dress in a professional manner to model success and expect achievement. 14. The three most important things that must be taught the first week of school are discipline, procedures and routines. 15. Discipline: Set rules, consequences, and rewards immediately.
16. State your procedures and rehearse them until they become routines. 17. The family as a support group, is the guardian and disseminator of culture. The school and the church help the family to disseminate culture. 18. Learning is most effective when it takes place in a supportive community of learners. 19. The greater the time students work together and the greater the responsibility students take for their work, the greater the learning. 20. Cooperate with each other, compete only against yourself.
21. Cooperative learning will prepare students for the competitive, global world economy. 22. Academic Learning time (ALT): The greater the time students spend working successfully on task, the greater the student's achievement. 23. The greater the structure of a lesson and the more precise the directions on task procedures, the lower the error rate and the higher the achievement rate. 24. To increase assignment completion, state your assignments as a set of criteria or objectives. 25. Use criterion-referenced tests to evaluate the performance of the students.
26. The more frequent the tests, the higher the achievement. 27. Grade on percentage attained, not on the curve. The curve has done more harm to education than any other technique. 28. Mastery learning plus tutorial instruction results in higher achievement than students taught in a conventional manner. 29. If a student masters a criterion, give the student enrichment work. If the student does not master a criterion, give the student remediation and corrective help. 30. The shorter the assignment, the higher the achievement rate.
31. Intersperse questions throughout a lesson. Ask a question after 10 sentences rather than after 50 sentences and you increase the retention rate by 40 percent. 32. Wait Time: Wait five or more seconds after asking a question. 33. Reading: Use short lines and paragraphs. Note how periodicals and junk mail are written.
34. Determine the learning style of your students. Student achievement is greater when the teaching style matches the learning style. 35. Students score higher on a test measuring attitude towards school and attitude towards a subject when they learn from an activity-question approach than from a textbook-lecture approach. 36. Most teachers teach as they were taught in college, a non-validated model of teaching (book, lecture, activity, test).
37. Learn to make CHOICES to enhance your life. Stop DECIDING what to do because others are doing it. 38. When you see in a given situation what everyone else sees, you become so much a part of that situation that you may become a victim of that situation. 39. 80/20 Principle: 80 percent of the teachers are complainers or survivors; 20 percent of the teachers are happy and successful. 80 percent of the teachers expect the teachers' organization to bring them rewards; 20 percent of the teachers create and strive for their own rewards.
40. Workers are concerned with time and money. They sit at the back of meetings and put in time. Leaders are concerned with enhancement and cooperation. They have a career, are talented and are professionals. Some teachers are workers, others are leaders. 41. The four stages of teaching: Fantasy, Survival, Mastery, and Impact.
42. There is no nobility in being better than someone else. The only nobility is being better than who you were the day before. 43. Self-esteem results from school achievement. You cannot give someone a better self-esteem. The role of a teacher is to engineer student success. 44. Teachers can only give what and who they are themselves.
45. You may be the only stable adult your students will ever see in their lifetime. You may be their only hope and dream for a brighter tomorrow. 46. Each person has unlimited potential. Humans are the only species able to improve the quality of their lives. 47. You can have your achievements or you can have your excuses. 48. You are the only person on the face of the earth who can use your ability. It is an awesome responsibility.
49.The most important factor to a professional is the quality of the work and the commitment to the craft. 50. A professional is someone who does not need supervision and regulation to: have a continuing growth plan to achieve competence and (b) continually strive to raise the level of each new group of students. 51. I believe that every teacher can be effective. 52. Inside every great teacher there is an even better one waiting to come out.
53. Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn. 54. The teacher enhances the life and spirit of people. 55. It is the teacher who makes the difference in what happens in the classroom. 56. By far the most important factor to school learning is the ability of the teacher. The more capable the teacher, the more successful the student.
57. Stop asking, "What am I supposed to do?" Start asking, "What must I know that will help me to accomplish what I need to do?" 58. There is an existing body of knowledge about teaching that must be know by the teacher. Power comes to those with the knowledge. 59. Since there is no one best way to teach effectively, the teacher must be a decision maker able to translate the body of knowledge about teaching into increased student learning. 60. There is no accomplishment without RISK. 61. LOVE. ~excerpted from The First Days of School by Harry K. Wong.
4. During discussions, respect other students’ comments, opinions and ideas.
5. If you win or do well at something, do not brag. If you lose do not show anger.
6. If you are asked a question in conversation, you should ask a question in return.
When you cough, or sneeze or burp, it is appropriate to turn your head away from others and cover your mouth with the full part of your hand.
8. Do not smack your lips, tsk, roll your eyes, or show disrespect with gestures. 9. Always say thank you when I give you something. 10.When you receive something, do not insult the gift or the giver. 11.Surprise others by performing random acts of kindness.
12. When grading other students’ papers, give only the correct grade. 13. Follow along as we read together in class. 14. Answer all written questions with a complete sentence. 15. Do not ask for a reward for good grades or behavior. 16. You must complete your homework everyday.
Subject transitions will be swift, quiet and orderly.
Be as organized as possible.
19. When homework is assigned, do not moan or complain.
20. When a substitute teacher is present, all class rules apply.
Follow the specific classroom protocols.
22. You may bring a bottle of water to class; you may not leave for a drink of water during class. 23. Know other teachers’ names and greet them in the hall by name. 24. Keep yourself and bathrooms clean and germ-free. 25. Greet visitors and make them feel welcome.
Do not stare at a student who is being reprimanded.
Call me if you have a question about homework and leave a message – once.
Observe the ABCs of etiquette.
After dining in the cafeteria or elsewhere, be responsible for your trash.
31. In a hotel room, leave a tip for the hotel workers who clean your room. 32. On a bus, always face forward. 33. When meeting new people, shake hands and repeat their name. 34. When offered food, take only your fair share. 35. If someone drops something and you are close to it, pick it up.
Hold the door for people rather than letting it close on them.
If someone bumps into you , say excuse me, even if it was not your fault.
On a field trip, enter a public building quietly.
On a field trip , compliment the place you are visiting.
During an assembly, do not speak or call out to friends.
41. At home, answer your phone in a polite and appropriate manner. 42. When returning from a trip, shake the hand of every chaperone. 43. On escalators, stand to the right, walk to the left. 44. When standing in line, keep your arms at your sides and move quietly.
45. Never cut in line. 46. No talking in a movie theater during the movie. 47. Do not bring Doritos into the school building. 48. If anyone is bullying you, let me know. 49. Stand up for what you believe in. 50. Be positive and enjoy life.