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Discipline

Helping students to govern their own behavior in ways that help them learn is a long-standing goal of all teachers. There are a number of ways in which a teacher can promote good discipline in the class room.

Know school guidelines for discipline procedures.

Be fair, positive and consistent. Be the kind of person young people can like and trust--firm, fair, friendly, courteous, enthusiastic and confident. Try to keep your sense of humor.

Provide a list of standards and consequences to parents and students. Make sure they are consistent with district and building policy. When in doubt, ask a colleague or your building administrator.

Keep your classroom orderly. Maintain a cheerful and attractive classroom rather than a disorderly one which might encourage disruptive behavior.

Get to know your students. Learn their names quickly and use them in and out of class. You will soon develop a sixth sense for anticipating trouble before it begins, but don't act as though you expect trouble. If you do, you will almost certainly encounter some. Learn the meaning of terms, especially slang used by students.

Begin class on time and in a businesslike manner.

Make learning fun, interesting, and relevant to the students' lives. Poor planning and a full curriculum can provoke disruptions. Praise good work, good responses, and good behavior.

Don't threaten or use sarcasm. Never use threats to enforce discipline. Never humiliate a student. Avoid arguing with students. Discussions about class work are invaluable, but arguments can become emotional encounters.

Let the students know you care. Determine jointly with the class what is acceptable in terms of behavior and achievement and what is not. Show interest in what students say, whether or not it pertains directly to the lesson.

Treat students with the same respect you expect from them. Be mobile, walking around the room as students work or respond to instruction.

Keep your voice at a normal level. If "disaster" strikes and you trip over the wastebasket, don't be afraid to laugh at yourself.

Grade assignments and return them as soon as possible.

Give reasonable assignments. Don't use school work as punishment. Give clear directions.

Keep rules simple. Establish as few classroom rules as possible, and keep them simple.

If you "blow" the first week, don't worry. Just re-evaluate your rules and policies, tell the class you are making some changes and be consistent from then on.

Expect the unexpected. Schedules will be changed without warning and unanticipated events will occur. Be flexible in responding to the unexpected; ask your professional colleagues for suggestions on how to deal with situations like the following. What will you do if:
it rains at recess time?
your class arrives too early at the cafeteria?
a student tells you her pet died?
a child wets his pants?
a student tells you she is pregnant?
a student is verbally abusive?
a parent is angry and unreasonable?
a non-English speaking student is assigned to your class?
you have no textbooks?
a student is injured in class or on the playground?
you are called to the office in the middle of your class?
a student refuses to do what you ask of him?
a student has a seizure in your class?
Above all, be fair to your students. Here are some ways to help you win the respect of your students:
Be consistent in application of discipline and just in your requirements and assignments.
Don't refuse to let a student tell you his/her side of the story.
Be willing to consider mitigating circumstances.
Don't talk about the misdeeds of students except to those who have a right to know.
Don't openly compare one student to another.
Apologize if you find that you have treated a student unfairly.
Make sure punishments are appropriate for the misbehavior.
Be willing to explain to the student why he/she is being punished.
MORE DISCIPLINE TIPS THAT WORK

Make sure all students can easily see you when you are presenting information or using the chalkboard. Place overhead screen and such things as instructional displays where everyone can see without getting up and moving. Keep in mind potential distractions such as windows, doors, animals, or other interesting displays and small group work areas. Leave plenty of room around student desks so that you can get to each student easily while you are monitoring their individual work.

Locate your desk, work areas and instructional areas where you can see all of the students all of the time. Avoid placing centers or work areas in "blind corners."

Plan to seat students who need extra help or attention close to where you will be most of the time. If you must use tables or desks with inadequate storage space, you will want to have "tote trays" or boxes for student belongings and materials. Even if other arrangements are to be used later in the year, consider placing student desk in rows facing the major instructional areas at the beginning of the year. This minimizes distractions for the students and allows you to monitor behavior.