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Lee canter assertive_discipline_


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Lee canter assertive_discipline_

  1. 1. Britt Bigley September 29, 2011 Lee Canter: Assertive Discipline Lee Canter’s Assertive Discipline is a behavioral /discipline theory that teachers are using all over the world and on all different grade levels. Lee Canter’s accomplishments in education, the summary of his Assertive Discipline model, including the explanation of steps to implement his model, its effectiveness and the arguments for and against the use of Assertive Discipline in the classroom will be examined. Lee Canter’s contributions to education have spanned close to 35 years. In 1976, Canter developed a behavioral management theory known as Assertive Discipline (Canter, 2001). Canter was one of the first to acknowledge that behavior management training was essential for teachers to take as part of undergraduate and graduate level courses (2001). Since then, Canter and his wife have created effective training programs for educators based around Assertive Discipline and classroom management models. Canter has also published informational and teacher planning books to help teachers implement lessons geared toward his behavioral management theory. Canter and his wife are also co-founders of Canter & Associates, a firm specializing in professional development for educators (2001). Assertive Discipline has continued to be implemented by first year and veteran teachers, administrators and used in both inner city and rural schools (2001). Assertive Discipline is a positive, proactive behavioral management tool used in educational classrooms. The central idea behind Canter’s Assertive Discipline model is that the teacher is in complete control of the classroom and is vital in directing classroom behavior (2001). Another key component of this theory is that the teacher is proactive in establishing set rules and consequences as a way to prevent unwanted behaviors (2001). Essentially, Canter’s model is a preventative approach to behavior management, as the teacher is responsible for redirecting unwanted behaviors before they become disruptive to the entire classroom.
  2. 2. In order for Assertive Discipline to be effective in the classroom, the teacher must follow steps in implementing this behavioral management model: creating rules and consequences, communicating rules and consequences, model expected classroom behavior, and use appropriate response depending on expected or unexpected behaviors. On the very first day of school, the teacher will establish a discipline plan containing rules and consequences for the classroom. It is suggested that this first step be a collaborative process, creating the rules along with the students. The rules must be observable and these rules must always be in effect (2001). The discipline plan will also set clear guidelines for consequences if a rule is broken. There should be a defined discipline hierarchy, meaning specific consequences established for breaking a rule the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd time and a consequence for a severe misbehavior (2001). The second step in the model is to communicate classroom rules to the students by explaining the need for rules and consequences and checking for student’s understanding (2001). This too should be done on the first day of school to make sure all students understand the Discipline Plan (rules) and the Discipline Hierarchy (consequences). The third step in the Assertive Discipline model is to teach the students how to follow the rules. Teaching students expected classroom behavior should also be done on the first day of school and should continue throughout the year. The teacher becomes the primary subject to model expected behavior. The last step, responding appropriately to a behavior is continuously implemented throughout the school year as well. The appropriate response from the teacher, either supportive feedback or corrective action, is dependent upon the student’s behavior being expected or unwanted (2001). Canter argues that there are definite benefits to his Assertive Discipline model that both benefit the teacher and students. Using this proactive approach the teacher develops a carefully planned behavior management system to use when students are being disruptive (2001). The responses outlined in the discipline hierarchy are aimed at stopping the disruption in the classroom so both the teacher and students can get back to learning (2001). Prior planning also ensures that
  3. 3. the teacher does not become emotionally involved when disciplining a student, since the proper response should come automatically (2001). An established discipline plan will also protect the rights of the students in the classroom. The discipline plan guarantees that each disruptive student will be dealt with in a consistent and fair manner, because the teacher is reacting to the specific behavior and not the student (2001). The consistency and fair manner in which behaviors are dealt with will ensure positive relationships with students, an essential part of a student’s ability and willingness to learn. Other benefits from this model are the inclusion of parents and administrator support, placement of responsibility on students to act in appropriate manner and an increase in students’ self-esteem (2001). The criticisms of Canter’s Assertive Discipline suggest that the model is authoritarian and does not consider the student’s best interest. One critic, Alfie Kohn, states that Assertive Discipline is “ essentially a collection of bribes and threats whose purpose is to enforce rules that the teacher alone devises and imposes” (Kohn, 1996). He summarizes it as a carrot and sticks model, dangling rewards in front of students, otherwise known as “control through seduction” (1996). Two other critics of Assertive Discipline, Richard Curwin and Allen Mendler, who have their own model for classroom behavioral management called Discipline with Dignity, argue that Canter’s model is severe and rigid in disciplining minor infractions, and does not account for the behaviorially-at-risk students (Charles, 2002). Curwin and Mendler disagree that Assertive discipline is a proactive approach to classroom behavior. They argue that a true proactive approach would teach students self-regulation and management of behaviors, having a student self correct before behavior occurs (Charles, 2002). In an article entitled “Conventional Systems of Classroom Discipline”, Donald Blumenfeld-Jones (1996) states that Assertive Discipline makes unfavorable cases of specific people repeatedly, ultimately saying the same names appear consistently on the chalk board (Blumenfeld-Jones, 1996). This response separates these students from the rest of the group
  4. 4. making the correction of the behavior punitive and isolating, something no teacher should purposefully do to a student (1996). In order to effectively evaluate the Assertive Discipline model in the classroom, the teacher must implement different strategies. One strategy is to have the students practice the rules while the teacher monitors and analyzes students’ reactions and behaviors (2001). Another strategy is to ask questions to your students (i.e. when transitioning, “What does a good transition look and sound like?”) to check understanding (Canter, 2002). A good teacher will always re-evaluate his or her supportive feedback and corrective actions, discuss with another teacher and determine if adjustments should be made to the discipline plan and discipline hierarchy based on the needs of the class (2002). Canter insists that Assertive Discipline can be effective on any educational level, with minor changes to supportive feedback and corrective actions. As with any framework or premade lesson plans, Assertive Discipline guidelines need to be adapted to fit each specific classroom. For example in Early Elementary classrooms, rewards can come in the form of a sticker, a ticket for a prize, and a note sent home parents (Canter, 1992b) Corrective actions in Early Elementary classrooms could be moving a child away from the group, moving student closer to the teacher’s desk or a note home to the parent (1992b). In Secondary Education, rewards can come in forms of certificates, student of the week posters, or a pass for a privilege in the classroom (Canter, 1992a). Consequences in Secondary Education would take the form of writing in a behavior journal, staying after class or after school, or being sent to administrator’s office (1992a). There are parts of Assertive Discipline that I will use once I am a teacher. I agree with Canter that there must be clear rules and consequences set in place, which will not only help the students but will also help me to properly handle difficult behavioral situations. I do think that it is the teacher’s responsibility to teach and guide students in exhibiting positive behavior, and that sometimes it is in the class’ best interest to redirect smaller unwanted behaviors in order to
  5. 5. prevent distractions while learning. I have learned a few good strategies to help re-direct student behaviors in a positive way, for example using positive repetition, scanning or consistent praise to persuade students to use appropriate behavior. I have also found strategies to positively correct students if they are showing unwanted behaviors, such as giving “the look”, coming into physical proximity, and mentioning off-task students name in a lesson, which all give the student a subtle prompt to get back on task. The Lee Canter’s Assertive Discipline workbooks also provide great resources for lesson plans on behavioral management and copies of different reward and consequence systems. Overall, I think the Assertive Discipline model is a great way to effectively manage student behaviors in a positive and proactive manner, and I will be using certain strategies from the model in my teaching career. Overall, I believe Kate and I worked really well, and have fully grasped the concept of Assertive Discipline and through our presentation have effectively passed our knowledge onto the students in class. Kate did a great deal of the organizing of what was needed to present and who would provide which information as well as creating the format for the power point. I integrated the use of visuals, mostly for the steps in implementing Assertive Discipline mainly because I felt that a visual with verbal explanation would help the audience to understand the steps more clearly. I was also in charge of getting information on the steps, model summary, and secondary supportive and corrective responses. I also had access to behavioral charts and plans so I brought them in for the class to better understand what can be used to correct behavior. The power point was a collaborative effort, but I do have to say that Kate put a great deal of work into the presentation, probably more than I contributed. Canter, Lee and Marlene., (1992a). Assertive Discipline Secondary Workbook: Grades 9-12. Santa Monica, CA, Lee Canter & Associates. Canter, Lee and Marlene., (1992b). Assertive Discipline Elementary Workbook: Grades PreK-6. Santa Monica, CA, Lee Canter & Associates.
  6. 6. Canter, L. & Canter, M., (2001). Assertive discipline: positive behavior management for today's classroom. 3rd ed. Los Angeles, CA: Canter & Associates, Inc. Charles, C. M. ,(2002). Building Classroom Discipline. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon. Blumenfeld-Jones, D., (April, 1996). Conventional systems of classroom discipline (the patriarchy speaks). Journal of Educational Thought, 30, 5-21. Kohn, A., (20, November, 1996). Beyond Discipline. Retrieved from Lee , C., (2002). Responsible Behavior Curriculum Guide: An Instructional Approach to Successful Classroom Management. Los Angeles, CA: Canter & Associates, Inc.