Discipline in the Entitlement Age

From a teacher’s perspective

This is a tricky topic for people of all ages and backgrounds, but I especially feel I have a clearer vision of discipline methods in regards to classroom instruction, as an elementary school teacher. There is, of course, a major difference between disciplining a couple of children in a family and regulating an entire classroom of 30 + children. However, the following methods and concepts will hopefully prove helpful to every adult in whatever their situation or circumstance may be at this time. The other tricky thing, as an educator, is that I can only control what’s in my classroom, but I also have to remember that these are someone else’s children. In other words, I usually have to dig to find out what works at home for certain individuals (especially  when meeting with parents of disruptive students at some point in the year.) I can’t undo or fix what parents have already been doing for years. For example, if kids get paid money or are given treats every time they clean up around the house, they’re going to enter my classroom with that same expectation.

A lot of my thoughts will come from well-founded theorists and researchers, but especially from Jim Fay and David Funk’s Teaching with Love & Logic. It was from these men that I got the impression of what version of authoritative I should be in the classroom. It is possible to discipline a child as an expression of loving & caring about them. Fay & Funk illustrate what a firm, loving hand looks like in a disciplinary setting.  I have explained this version of love & discipline countless times to upset parents who come into my classroom, feeling that I have dealt unfairly with their child. If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t discipline them; I would just ignore them or berate them. The biggest key in Teaching with Love & Logic suggest to implement successful behavior by practicing with consistency.  If the adults become lenient or complacent, the kids will take advantage of that & begin testing the boundaries out again.

Some of my favorite ways to encourage good behavior in my classroom involved the following methods: clip chart, (pictured above on the far left), class rewards/consequences system, card signing, & Class Dojo (an app to help keep track of both positive & negative behaviors.) Everyone has to find a good fit for him or herself in this process. I finally got rid of the clip chart this past school year, because I could track points (which I then rewarded kids with tickets daily for & then did a weekly drawing for small prizes) with Class Dojo just as easily. The nice thing about using an app like Class Dojo, is that you get to celebrate the good and positive behaviors with your students, just as you discourage the negative behaviors. There is a balance, and no child is perfect, but they will certainly respond to praise and positive reactions in stimulated ways.

—More to come on this topic (discipline) in future posts.



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