How to Apply Positive Discipline in The Classroom
David Brooks once said, “The point of being a teacher is to do more than impart facts, it's to shape the way students perceive the world, to help a student absorb the rules of discipline. The teachers who do that get remembered.” In my experience as a teacher, I have had students from different backgrounds enter my classroom. I have come to acknowledge that each one is an individual who has needs and a personality shaped by external factors such as their family life, social interactions, and beliefs. Nevertheless, I have also discovered that positive discipline in the classroom creates a healthy environment which not only promotes learning but gives each student an equal opportunity to be challenged and excel.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Elizabeth E. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
First encounter between teacher and student
As a school teacher, one of the first activities I do with my class is to have them make a list (in groups) of classroom expectations. Some will write “take turns when speaking” others have surprised me and even written down “Don't make fun of someone when making mistakes”. As an alternative, beginners will draw pictures of a positive classroom environment. After completing these exercises, students understand the reasons for classroom rules, because they have reflected on the importance of them and how it will promote their learning.
Consistency with rewards and sunctions
Students must come to trust their teacher by knowing he/she will be fair when making important decisions. Likewise, verbal or cumulative rewards such as merits are not only given for excelling at a task but when there is evidence of collaboration, independence, creativity, and reflection (Taken from the Approaches to teaching and learning in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme). Likewise, I will mention which one of these criteria has been affected when applying a sanction. For example, if a student that has not turned in his homework for the second time in a row, he will receive a written consequence because it is an expectation that has been established from the beginning of the year and is considered within the “independence” criteria.
Teacher’s personal qualities
It is a simple fact that students are very observant and will expect their teachers to enforce and model positive behavior as well. If you are sanctioning a student for arriving late, that student will be more aware and honor your decision if he/she has seen you upholding the same standards. The same can be said for preparation. We as teachers can´t expect students to come prepared with their notebooks and textbooks if we have not prepared a lesson plan or have materials ready for our class.
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Positive discipline is the best type of discipline because it does not need to be directly enforced, it is experienced daily and becomes an environmental standard that is easily applied. I encourage all teachers to be willing to take the time to consider these points as they have helped me personally and will help students be better prepared for life.
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