Friday, November 2, 2012

Principles of Teaching: Discipline in the Classroom

This is the second part of my posts about maintaining discipline in the classroom. Hope you will learn a lot.

7. Balance everything. Most of the time, disciplinary problems are caused by children having too many choices that they cannot handle making them overstimulated. They may have plenty of time, “dead” time specifically that they tend to become bored and restless. They may have a lot of space, thus giving them opportunity to move around a lot. Or they may have too much activities, too many to the point they get overwhelmed and find ways to withdraw and escape from the task. Learn to balance everything by making use of the resources (e.g. time, space or activity) wisely and orderly. This is where planning comes in. Plan a schedule for the class. Plan your daily activities. Plan the set-up of the classroom.

8. Divert the situation. Inappropriate behaviors are sometimes momentary. Sometimes they are situation-specific. So as teachers, divert the situation before it gets worse. Divert the situation by moving on with activity or moving the child to another place or environment. For instance, if one student is at the brink of getting conflict with another, ask the other to do a certain task, perhaps asking him/her to an errand for them to distract their conflict.

9. Most of the time, some students are attention-seekers. Some tend to “tease” us teachers and they achieve “victory” if we blurt out and lose our composure. Some just have misunderstandings out of petty things. In this case, the best way is to ignore. Some behaviors ignored are most of the time not reinforced. They tend to dwindle and even stop. Ignoring also gives students the chance to deal with their own conflicts thus developing intra and interpersonal skills. However, there are behaviors like aggression don’t end just by ignoring, and may in fact increase it if not given attention. Under this circumstance, a different approach should be utilized.

10. Reinforce appropriate behavior. Rewards are one of the most common positive reinforcement teachers give to students who exhibit good behavior. Don’t limit ourselves in just giving tangible rewards like “stars” or credits, rather we can make use of intangible rewards like praises, affirmations and encouragement on our side. Take note however, that as teachers we may reinforce not only good behavior but also bad behavior through our actions. Modelling is sometimes enough as a reinforcement for our students so we need to be conscious with our actions.

11. Make appropriate behavior contagious. In this situation, we can reinforce a behavior to a certain child if we reinforce peers or other children exhibiting a desirable behavior. This way, the misbehaving child may imitate those peers so that they too can have the same reinforcement. For example, some students in our class accomplished their tasks on time while some didn’t because they wasted their time doing nonsense stuff. We can praise the good ones and perhaps give them extra credit (positive reinforcement) or exempt them in doing certain work like cleaning or doing assignment for that day (negative reinforcement). Take not however that this approach should never be done with comparison of one child with another.

12. Develop cues or signals. We can utilize this by establishing routines in our classroom. Making cues or signals unique in our own classroom is only limited to the teacher’s imagination. Some teachers use bell to warn students that they are too noisy or they need to sit down. In my case, I usually do the 1-2-3 routine. Each number represents a behavior e.g. 1 for keeping quiet/minimize sound, 2 for sitting properly and 3 for listening to the teacher.

13. Use nonverbal communication. A raise in the eyebrow or simple facial expression is often enough to relay what behavior we want to our students. It saves our saliva, our voice and our time. It is also sometimes even more effective than words. Even our physical presence, by moving around or just standing quietly beside them can relay a message of support and guidance to our students.

14. Give students breathable atmosphere. Sometimes, as teachers we want to reinforce good behavior in our classroom that we tend to forget that we are controlling the students too much. Give them extra air to breath. Allow them to play or have fun in the room sometimes. Laugh with them or join them in their craziness at times.  Respect and discipline is not acquired by coercion, but by mutual and harmonious relationship of the teacher and the students. 

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