A Positive Classroom Discipline Plan

Teacher Expectations and Student Accountability

A positive and effective classroom discipline plan can sometimes seem out of reach to a teacher who is struggling every day...she just can't figure out how to get from here to there...here being challenged, confronted and worn down daily...there being a room where she just gets to teach ("...is that so much to ask?!")

As with any journey, we start with preparation and then go at it one step at a time.

Building-Wide Plans

Not every school building has a classroom discipline plan, but every one of them should. One of the biggest frustrations a teacher can face is never knowing where the line is...when does the principal expect a poor behavior choice to be escalated to the office, and when does he expect the teacher to handle something in the room?

When is it OK to ask for help, and when will struggles with classroom behavior management be considered a sign of weakness?

Many principals are uncomfortable drawing a line, though. They're human, and humans in general like to avoid conflict. Lines mean conflict...as soon as one is drawn, sure enough a student will step over it and that means dealing with parents and suspensions and all sorts of classroom discipline plan items that the principal would really rather not do.

Just like a teacher, a principal's fondest wish is to just be able to do his job...just be able to, well...principal, as in develop teachers and celebrate student achievement.

Enforcing a line is sure-fire way to spend a lot of time doing unpleasant tasks. So keeping things hazy gives principals some wiggle room to avoid conflict in certain situations. This may help them on a case-by-case basis, but long-term, problems snowball as kids figure out just how much they can get away with.

There's only so much you can do to encourage a building's staff or principal to create or adopt a rational classroom discipline plan. Who we are concerned about here is you...and you can be successful even without strong support from the office. You may have to force others to do their jobs on some issues, as we'll cover in this section, but it can be done, and done effectively.

Positive classroom behavior management is possible for every teacher. Which brings us to the first step...

Setting Expectations and Anticipating Issues

Teacher talking to elementary class

Sometimes it seems like every third sentence I speak during the day is to set an expectation. Early in the year, these expectations are heavily weighted toward behavior until students get used to the routine.

Expectations create a feedback loop. Without expectations, you are reacting to issues that arise...in practice, it sounds like a constant chorus of "stop that!"

With expectations, you are reminding students that you already established the proper behavior, they aren't meeting it and here comes the consequence. Calm, deliberate, effective.

After a few days with your class, you'll be able to start anticipating the issues that will arise in different situations. You'll know:

  • That Teandra is obsessed with the pencil sharpener and can't line up near it
  • How much frustration Sammi can stand in math before she snaps
  • Whether Denis has taken the prescribed medication that allows him to work calmly in a group

Anticipation allows you to set expectations that address inevitable behavior issues and, when necessary, intervene before a situation heads in the entirely wrong direction. It's a delicate balance sometimes...when to steer clear of a situation that will end in trouble, and when to set an expectation around that situation to help a child learn self-control.

These articles will help with that.

It All Comes Down to Accountability

Ultimately, one of the major goals of teaching (and parenting) a child from pre-school to graduation is to create an adult who understands that:

  • Life offers endless choices
  • They must make choices every day
  • Some choices will be right
  • Some choices will be wrong
  • But no matter what, they are accountable for the choices they make

As a teacher involved with an effective classroom discipline plan, you are critical in getting this accountability piece through their heads. For most of a child's life, they experience consequences that are enforced upon them by others, including you.

Eventually, a teacher will begin to see children internalize this lesson and hold themselves accountable for choices. Better yet, you'll see children learning to understand that consequences follow bad choices, so it's best to make the proper choice up front.

This only comes in glimpses, especially in the lower grades. But your work is so important, and it all makes an impact in both the short- and long-term. These articles will given you plenty to work with as you help our children grow into responsible, self-controlled, disciplined adults.

Ultimate Classroom Discipline Plan

"I'll call the fouls here!"

Student Self-Accountability Our ultimate goal in any classroom discipline plan is to have students take responsibility for their own actions and control their own behavior without constant adult oversight. Let's face facts, though - there's a reason why every nation on earth has policemen and … [Read more...]

Applying Positive Discipline Part 3

"No need to watch...we'll be good!"

Holding Children Accountable - Part 3 Accountability for "Recess Behavior" As challenging as it can be to handle discipline in the classroom, when you have the students under your direct control, it can be even more challenging to handle classroom behavior management that occurs at recess, in … [Read more...]

Applying Positive Discipline Part 2

"But I don't want to be a lone wolf!"

Holding Children Accountable for Their Choices - Part 2 Does solid discipline in the classroom require that we immediately escalate to "please step aside?" (from Part 1). It depends, of course. Go to Part 1 It may be necessary to be very strict with a structured approach in the beginning, … [Read more...]

Applying Positive Discipline Part 1

"Apology? I'm not quite ready..."

Holding Children Accountable for Their Choices - Part 1 The end goal of classroom management and discipline is to create citizens who can hold themselves accountable for their choices. A successful program will constantly emphasize self-reflection on behavior in order to build this … [Read more...]

Anticipation & Positive Classroom Discipline

"I'm a one-of-a-kind kid!"

Anticipating Discipline Issues

Effective classroom discipline means knowing your kids: What motivates them, what makes them tick, what will set them off. It won't take long in this profession to learn that certain situations will inevitably lead to classroom … [Read more...]

Expectations & Positive Classroom Discipline


Setting Clear Expectations

You decide what kind of discipline in the classroom you want to have, and what kinds of classroom behavior management makes that climate possible. General expectations can be covered by classroom rules, but whether a classroom has written rules or not, a … [Read more...]

Discipline Plan

How does your building put the discipline puzzle together?

Working with Building-Wide Plans

http://scowei.wistia.com/medias/hte918cpy1?embedType=seo&videoFoam=true&videoWidth=425 When it comes to a classroom discipline plan, there are generally two different approaches you will find on a building-wide (or … [Read more...]