A Positive Learning Environment through Positive Discipline
If you were to ask any teacher what is their biggest concern about what's happening in their classroom today, the answer would undoubtedly be "classroom management." In many classrooms, disruptive behavior continues to take away instructional time, student on task time, and all class engagement time. Entire classrooms are being held hostage by classroom management issues that can marginalize the learning and the academic outcome during the entire school year.
Positive Discipline Strategies
Positive Discipline can provide an anchor of constructive behavior that can take a disruptive class from barely functioning to highly functional in no time. The following strategies can be used the next time you encounter discipline issues in your classroom or pro-actively implemented during the first day of school.
Create a Social Behavioral Contract with all students - constructing a social behavioral contract will allow all students to become engaged in creating social norms and expectations collaboratively for the classroom and it will allow students to differentiate those norms in addressing their own behavior. For example, if you have a student who constantly talks out in the classroom, help the student create a contract that addresses that specific issue and others that are teacher/student identified.
Create a Contract/Create Consequences - with all contracts come consequences for students who choose to disrupt the classroom despite the contract. Teachers must be able to have a five minute time out space, a journal prompt that students must do for a time period, change of placement within the classroom or immediate removal from the classroom if indicated. Students must understand that with disruptive behaviors come consistent consequences that will be readily enforced.
Acknowledge Good Behavior - instead of waiting for bad behavior to occur, social contracts should be created around positive behavior with consequences. Teachers can provide extrinsic rewards weekly or monthly for students who are engaged in the learning, those who acknowledge a moment of off-task behavior with immediate remediation of the behavior and those who have shown responsibility in turning in homework assignments and doing well academically.
Engage in Student of the Month Awards - each month acknowledge two or three students in your classes that have shown leadership, provided peer support in group collaboration, engaged in positive communication with staff and peers and a list of other positive and constructive behaviors in the classroom. Have the PTSA donate school supplies and other items like headphones and other inexpensive items that students use everyday and would enjoy having as a gift. Post monthly pictures around the classrooms and make a big deal with a custom cake and punch for students (make sure that no one has allergies and check with your Administrator about food in the classroom).
Have Student Helper on a Friday - when a student goes above and beyond the classroom expectations, teachers can have a student helper for a Friday award that allows the selected student an opportunity to help the teacher around the classroom and beyond. Teachers can have a special desk and area set aside for their student helpers.
These are just a few strategies that can promote student engagement and a positive learning environment in any classroom before disruptive actions can occur. With positive behavioral programs providing classroom support which create a learning atmosphere of consistent engagement, students and teachers can feel safe and productive every day during the school year.