Wednesday, October 22, 2008

281 Referendum YES281 : Discipline in the Classroom

A Brief Lead In
Below is correspondence I had on Speed Gibson's blog ( ) regarding Discipline in the classroom. This is a critical point because the better the students behave, the fewer distractions and interuptions. Potentially the district could provide better test scores for fewer dollars. (if only all the kids would be polite, engaged, interested in learning, respectful, etc., all the teachers were natural versatile orators and all the parents held their kids accountable for their behavior, homework, etc.) I think this is harder said than done in our culture where many believe: "our problem/behavior is their fault" and "if you hold me accountable, I will sue you", what do the readers think ? Remember to Vote Yes on Option 1 & 2.

My Initial Question / Opinion
Question though: What are your thoughts for maintaining discipline in a class with 35 middle schoolers, with let's say 15% that really don't want to be there and have no concept that teachers are to be respected. In the old days schools called and parents responded, teacher's were allowed more latitude, troubled kids dropped out, etc. Now with some parent's blaming the schools (instead of sweet Billy...), school staff being scared to so much as look funny at a child due the risk of being sued, and no more letting these kids drop out/fail. My opinion is discipline is easy to say and hard to maintain. (I know one technique is in school suspension, which just requires another teacher for the troublesome few)

Answer / Opinion from Another Individual
About discipline, I'm no expert but I think I have a keen sense of the obvious that, unfortunately, education bureaucrats have not.
1. First is to put enough CONTENT in classes that everyone is challenged to keep up with the material. Idle hands ARE the devil's playground. Closely following is a teaching technique that engages, rather than expects them to quietly listen to the teacher read the book.
2. The school must have a real discipline policy that is clear, thoroughly communicated and routinely (but not rigidly) enforced. Zero tolerance policies are stupid, as are efforts to "appreciate diversity" that favor disruptive students.
3. We must get back to the notion of "social norming," of allowing the kids who are in the class to ostracize the offending students and "bring them into line" with better behavior.
4. There must be some real consequences for incorrigible students. At least one district has a special school for such students, with bars on the windows and teachers specializing in discipline problems. Parents are often find such involuntary transfers a convincing argument for instilling respect in their children. Others find it in the other school.
5. Lastly, we have to EXPECT it. Teachers should be offended when respect isn't given, after confirming that they aren't causing the problem by disrespecting the time of their students.

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