Classroom Discipline Problem: Fix It Today!
Apr 28, 2014 Classroom Management 3007 Views
All teachers have discipline issues at times. Kids are kids and they simply are more interested in each other than they are in your class. Think of discipline issues as challenges and tackle them immediately before they become chronic problems. How? Ask yourself these questions over a cup of coffee and a piece of cheesecake.
Question 1: "Which of my non-negotiables is being broken in this situation?" Your non-negotiables are the behaviors that must be present in students before you can do your job. Often teachers don't really take time to think about what these are and to share them with students. But even if you haven't overtly thought about them you definitely know when they aren't in place.
For example: It drives you up the wall when students continue to talk while you are trying to instruct. Your non-negotiable is: Students must be quiet and listening when I speak.
Question 2: "What is my first course of action to improve this situation?" Brainstorm. Write down as many possibilities as you can think of for how you can lessen or eliminate this problem.
Question 3: "What should I try first?" Pick a solution that can be implemented the very next time the class meets. Start with just one solution. Explain to the class why this is a problem for you and why it must be fixed today. Present your solution and implement it. Expect that you will need to do some tweaking and let the class know that. But make it clear that this issue will be resolved starting today!
Let's look at an example of how this works.
Every day you have to repeatedly ask the students to quiet down so you can begin the lesson. Eventually, you become frustrated and angry and although the students eventually calm down, the class atmosphere is now tense and you are stressed. How can you improve this situation?
1. You determine that your non-negotiable is "Students must be quiet and listen when I begin the lesson without my having to constantly scold them."
2. You jot down ways to accomplish this. Some ideas, such as "duct tape their mouths shut" are not feasible. But other ideas have promise. Look over your list for ideas that can be turned into routines or procedures for how your class is conducted.
Routines and procedures are the way things are done in your class and you have total control over them! You determine what your students do and how they do it. That's a lot of power that it's easy to forget that you have. If your students aren't quieting down for you to teach then you've turned control of the class over to them. This can and must be changed immediately. It's easier than you think to fix this with simple routines.
3. Pick a solution and try it. As you jot down your brainstorming ideas you realize that you really don't have a set procedure that tells the class when it's time to start the lesson. Some days, it's several minutes before you begin as you deal with makeup work, tardies, roll, etc. Other days you start instructing the moment the bell rings. This helps you realize that the students really don't know what to expect and naturally they are going to talk until you convince them it's time to listen.
Solution: Create a procedure that focuses the class and let's them know that you are ready to begin. What you pick is completely up to you and what works for your class. Maybe you will go to a particular area of the classroom. When you go here students know the lesson is beginning. Maybe you turn on the document reader. Perhaps you have a verbal signal, such as, "Welcome to class. Let's begin the lesson." Whatever it is, it is your way of letting the class know, without having to plead and scold, that the lesson is beginning and they need to stop talking and start listening.
Routines and procedures need to be clear, easy to follow and they must be practiced. Don't expect students to immediately follow the routine after you've explained it once. Every day for the next week you will need to remind them of what the routine is and what their response needs to be. But, it will become a habit and students will begin to respond. Be patient.
Once this routine is in place repeat the process with your next issue. Be consistent, be patient and be persistent. Know your non-negotiables and use simple, easy to follow routines and procedures to make sure they are met.
Routines and procedures are your secret weapon. By using them properly and purposefully you can turn an unruly class around and it starts the next time you walk into your classroom.