Thoughts on Discipline

Streams of Consciousness Ramblings
About Discipline and Control from a Confused
Mind That Once Read a Book on the Subject

  1. Controlling a classroom is an art and the artist is always more significant than the medium. What works for one may not work for another. Be cautious of anyone who offers you sure-fire techniques that will work every time.
  2. Every classroom behavior is a form of communication. Your ability to control depends largely on your ability to interpret the message.
  3. A foolish consistency may be the hobgoblin of little minds, but it ain’t bad for starters.
  4. If you have a control problem, check your lesson plan first. The key may be in your planning.
  5. Positive reinforcement is good medicine, but it must be used sparingly and with common sense.
  6. Confrontation is inevitable. You may confront individuals or you may confront the group. You can confront with your eyes, your words, your vocal tones, your fists, or flying chalkboard erasers, but you must confront.
  7. There are some few people in this world who do not understand any moral principle except, “if you don’t do what I tell you to do, I can hurt you.” You must recognize this.
  8. Make no threats which you are not prepared to carry out.
  9. There are three levels of classroom misbehavior.
    Stop that right now.

    Do you know where the boundaries between those areas are? Do those boundaries slide up and down depending on the time of day, the class or the individuals involved?

  10. Always! Always! Always establish a point of control reference at the bell. Do not get trapped at the door or at your desk. This is especially necessary if you teach an activities class. Have every student focus attention on you at the front at the beginning.
  11. If you ever tolerate an act once (e.g. go to locker for forgotten books) you will probably have to tolerate it again and frequently!
  12. Every American is allowed by cultural law so much personal body space. If you want to control any wild animal, you can begin by moving into his body space.
  13. Who owns the discipline problem? The secret is to convince the student that he owns it.
  14. Remember that most students in secondary schools really want to learn. If you are serious about teaching them, and demonstrate that with thorough, thoughtful planning, they will cooperate.
  15. Ignorance is a very precious, private matter. Most of us will go to great lengths to keep from exposing ourselves. Children hide behind mischief.
  16. If people don’t like each other, it may because they don’t know each other. If you don’t like a student or if it apparent that a student does not like you, spend some time him. Let the relationship develop.
  17. Teaching wisdom is knowing when to see and hear and when not to see and hear.
  18. Handle as many problems as you can, but be wise. When there are problems you can’t handle, get help.
  19. The effectiveness of a technique of punishment is determined by the student’s perception. If any punishment is used too often or is treated too lightly, it loses its effectiveness.
  20. Never confront a student unless you are sure you can win. Be cautious about confronting a student in front of his peers where he must win or lose face.
  21. If you admonish, expect results. If you can’t expect results, get some more confidence. (Confidence is not usually for sale in school supply stores.)
  22. Enjoy teaching. If you are not enjoying teaching, you are probably doing it wrong.