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How to Keep Discipline Balanced in the Classroom

How to Keep Discipline Balanced in the Classroom | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Disciplinary issues are some of the most common challenges of teachers worldwide. Every lesson depends on many factors to attain an acceptable level of success, one of which is discipline in the classroom. No one can deny that little or no learning takes place in a chaotic class.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Arnold A. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

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What is Discipline?

Discipline (with regards to school education) is a set of rules and regulations that remind students of the proper or acceptable standard of behavior. When properly practiced, discipline will go a long to not only to ensure success in the classroom but also help students to achieve their goals and dreams later in life. Discipline gives the students a sense of responsibility, realization, determination to strive hard each time after failure and stay grounded after achieving success.

Using an analogy to explain this, the discipline is like a canal that a farmer (teacher) builds for irrigating his fields. The nature of water is to flow where gravity takes it. If there is no canal to give it a specified path, it will disperse everywhere thus becoming useless to the farmer and his fields. In the same way, a student’s mind is playful by nature. It will go in every direction unless the student is guided by the teacher to follow a specific direction (discipline). As building and maintaining a canal is no easy task, so is discipline in the classroom.

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Research suggests that in order to maintain a well-disciplined classroom, teachers must establish rules and expectations, enforce limits of rules, and encourage and reinforce positive behavior.Effective Strategies

Effective discipline begins with rules, enforced with logical and meaningful consequences. Setting clear, firm rules and expectations which leave little room for interpretation will establish a solid foundation by which a classroom environment will function. Rules set the tone of the classroom. They provide broad guidelines about what should or should not be happening as a whole in the classroom. Some schools already have a system of rules and consequences that they will expect the teacher to use, such as check marks or tallies, which track misbehavior and enforce punishments. Setting positive rules and expectations or goals will give teachers and students the right mindset to start the school year off right.

The Power of Consequences

When enforcing the limits of rules, consequences should be logical and related to the offense. Logical consequences make sense to children, especially when explained calmly to them and enforced consistently. Teachers should also correct misbehavior and broken rules as soon as they are noticed. Punishment should be done privately; however, correction should be immediate. If a teacher ignores one broken rule or misbehavior, students will continue to test the limits of the established rules. Enforcement should be simple and let students know that the teacher is aware of what is happening. Also, when rules are being enforced, teachers should focus on the broken rule, not the problem. For instance, a student is talking while another student is addressing the class. When correcting the behavior of the students who is talking, the teacher should focus on the rule: Be respectful to all students and teachers. The situation can easily be corrected by saying something like, “you were talking while another student was giving a book report. Our rules say we are to be respectful to all students and teachers.” This method allows students to understand that talking is not always a problem, but they must follow the rules. Use action to enforce rules when needed. Action shows students that the teacher is in control. When action is required, it should be swift and firm, without negotiation. Teachers should avoid yelling at students as a control measure. Anger will upset or intimidate students instead of controlling their behavior.

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Finally, reinforcement and encouragement of positive behavior by teachers are necessary for students to exhibit good behavior. Positive reinforcement can be used very effectively in the classroom to create or enhance the desired behavior. Positive reinforcement for classroom behavior means that the students are rewarded when they make a good choice. The idea is basically to not focus on the negative aspects of the student’s behavior, but instead to focus on the positive aspects. The more focus that is placed on positive behavior, the more that behavior will be enhanced. As a result, the negative behaviors will naturally become less important and thus less active. In short, students are more likely to make good choices when they receive some type of reward or acknowledgment for doing so.

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