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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Positive Discipline Strategies Yield Quick Results

Classroom disruptions decline dramatically when kids are held accountable for their behavior to both their teachers and their classmates. More to this story.
Transcript

Positive Discipline Strategies Yield Quick Results (Transcript)

Teacher: Let's talk about respectful group work in science. What does it look like, what does it sound like and what does it feel like when we do those things?

Narrator: Clearly articulated class norms and expectations are the cornerstones of a discipline system, which has dramatically reduced suspensions and other disciplinary problems in Jefferson County schools.

Teacher: This is the list I got from you: "We're happy. We're proud."

Narrator: There are several options available to teachers and students to rectify inappropriate behavior. Developmental discipline provides appropriate consequences for infractions, allows students to take responsibility for resolving problems and makes the resolution process an opportunity to improve self-discipline skills.

Teacher: If the contract's broken, then that means that we have to have parent conference.

Sheldon: Developmental discipline is looking for appropriate consequences. For example, a student pushes another student or takes something away from another student. You might say, "Well, let's give that student a detention," so they have to stay after school, but that isn't an appropriate consequence. That isn't a direct consequence. A student doesn't necessarily learn anything from that. The appropriate consequence may be to write an apology or to directly apologize to that student, but the consequences have to relate to the incident itself and improve the student's skills at handling those kinds of incidents.

Narrator: Most minor infractions are handled proactively with private conversations.

Teacher: Stop please. Please? Thank you. Have a seat.

Darren: Like I said, I am less than impressed with some of your behavior, and you laughing is not very responsible…

Narrator: When the behavior is disruptive, a teacher can call for a student to "take a break," or "TAB."

Darren: We're going to have a TAB-in, because I've got to nip this in the bud right away. We cannot have this type of behavior in the classroom.

Narrator: The student goes to a corner of the room to reflect on the incident and suggest ways the behavior will be changed.

Darren: This behavior action plan, you're going to put your name up at the top and you're going to write down here what the problem was, what you did. You understand what you did, right?

We had a little bit of disruption in class, and instead of just letting that behavior progress, our feeling is with this program is you need to stop it right then. Take a course of action, where you want to go from there, whether it's TAB in, take a break from the classroom; TAB out, take a break out of the classroom.

"Choices: I could've just kept my feelings to myself." I think that would've been a good one.

We give them behavior sheet, which is either a fix-it plan or some type of contract.

And then you're going to write me an apology and you're going to sign it.

I hate to see any kid get into trouble, but if we can stop a behavior from turning into something far worse, then we feel that that's a better route to go.

I want you to give me your agenda. I'll take this. I'm going to file it away. Now here…

See, I think it's a pretty easy option for the kids. They write down, obviously, what they did wrong, how they're correcting it, what they're not going to do next time, an apology, and then we just move on. We put it behind us.

Narrator: Another way to help students stay on track is called "ZAP," for "zeroes aren't permitted."

Chris: A lot of kids get ZAP'd. You can get it for a lot of reasons. It's where they take you out when you're eating lunch. You might just sit by yourself and eat lunch all day, but you might do work, because you didn't get your work done in class when you was talking or something or when you was misbehaving. I think it helps me, like other kids. It shows them that you can't do whatever you want. You'll see big-time troublemakers over there for days and days, just aren't getting the point. They'll get it across to them someday, though.

Student: Those are the fighting, right? Fighting? You all have fight…

Student: Fist-pump.

Student: Yeah, fist-pump.

Narrator: Another option is to have students resolve conflicts themselves with the help of trained mediators.

Durk: There's a lot of schools that do peer mediation, but they don't really use it. Here it's kind of engrained in the building, and you have kids coming to me all the time, "Mr. D, I need a mediation tomorrow. Can I get a mediation today? I'm having a problem with so-and-so." And then my mediators, they're trained. They all want to work every day. I mean, it's a kind of a cool thing to be a mediator, so it has resolved a lot of the conflict.

That's two you've done, isn't it?

Student: Yeah.

Durk: We average about 150 peer-mediation resolutions every year. That's 150 situations, where kids aren't being suspended, kids are not getting referrals because they have an avenue or an outlet to come down to this office, sit with the young man they're having a problem with and working it out and then going back and telling their peers that, "Hey, we worked that problem out."

Student: You can go back to your friends and say that this problem is solved and it's all good.

Student: Thank you.

Durk: And it reduces a lot of the conflict that could go to that next level, so we nip all that in the bud.

Narrator: For more information about what works in public education, go to edutopia.org.

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Credits

Video Credits

Produced, Written, and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis

Editor

  • Karen Sutherland

Associate Producer

  • Doug Keely

Camera Crew

  • Rob Weller
  • Mark Crowner

Coordinating Producer

  • Amy Erin Borovoy

Narration

  • Carl Bidleman

Support for Edutopia's Schools That Work series is provided, in part, by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Comments (13)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Diego Herrera's picture
Diego Herrera
High School English Teacher at an International School in South America

This may be succesful, however it does use certain elements that we have been trying to get away from, such as isolating students and punishing them. There is a twist and that is that you don't just isolate them but you make them reflect and/or work. This keeps them busy and allows them to realize what they did wrong. However there are kids who will be there all the time and are not getting the point, so does this method really work?

Ken Ellis's picture
Ken Ellis
Former Executive Producer, video , Edutopia

[quote]

.. As far as the teachers behavior goes I do agree in not pointing anyone out for bad behavior I do think this was staged. I don't think that this video would be here if it was a real situation. I have been involved in these types of observations before and you don't just sit around waiting for someone to misbehave in hopes that you will catch it on screen, it was likely staged to get the point across of how it works.[/quote]

Dear Brandy,
I appreciate you taking the time to view and comment on this video, but I must tell you that you are incorrect regarding the "staging" of this or any other Edutopia video. Journalistic ethics are of paramount importance to us. I shot this sequence. It happened in front of the camera, without direction or suggestion. Due to production constraints and editing choices, we do not provide extensive sequences of classroom observation. I can understand that, without having the opportunity to see the behavior that lead up to this moment, you might have had the impression that it was "staged." If you'd like to shoot me an email, I can provide more context off-line. Thanks

Gary's picture
Gary
Seventh grade PreAlgebra teacher from Sacramento, California

I think that you can get new ideas by seeing what others are doing. They may work for you or they may not. I think that a whole school working together can be very powerful. Usually it is teachers working in their isolated classrooms.

Jennie's picture

TAB, (Take A Break) could be a really incredible tool, but the example referred to by Linda is not sitting well with me or with my experience in the classroom. We would never ask a dyslexic student to go sit in the corner and write up a plan to become a better reader, so why do we think isolation is enough to help a student understand the specific behavior that was the problem, any underlying cause of inappropriate behavior and alternative actions and strategies. Additionally this example showed required the teacher to turn their attention away from the class and take far too much time focusing on that one student. There has to be a better way.

Jennie's picture

TAB, (Take A Break) could be a really incredible tool, but the example referred to by Linda is not sitting well with me or with my experience in the classroom. We would never ask a dyslexic student to go sit in the corner and write up a plan to become a better reader, so why do we think isolation is enough to help a student understand the specific behavior that was the problem, any underlying cause of inappropriate behavior and alternative actions and strategies. Additionally this example showed required the teacher to turn their attention away from the class and take far too much time focusing on that one student. There has to be a better way.

Jessica's picture

I think that time-outs can be effective, but maybe not a time-out behind a wall. And as Linda said, the teacher publicly shamed the child. Sending a child to time-out shouldn't be fun or funny to the child, but it doesn't have to be shameful or embarassing, either. I can see why the teacher would be annoyed at the child's laughing/mocking, but I would recommend addressing the problem behavior that came before the laughing, rather than the laughing itself as a problem behavior.

AllSecondaryBio's picture
AllSecondaryBio
Biology teacher in a rural school in Missouri grades, 7, 10, 11, and 12

I'm reading a lot of comments about what the teacher in this video did wrong. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to do it right?? I'm a first year teacher and I'm having some trouble with a few disruptive students in two of my classes. They're very talkative and disruptive. How do you tell a student to change their behavior without drawing attention to him/her? Especially if they have to be asked several times?

Jenny Lebsack's picture

I am using Class Dojo on my computer and on an iPad to award or take away points based on behavior categories I set up. This is done silently and lets you track students with significant issues without disrupting the class. Students and parents can check their accounts and they are motivated by the program - I say - give it a try!

Aliza Feinstein - 561571's picture

I agree. the way the teacher pointed and yelled at the child only made the teacher look absurd. The other children seemed annoyed.
I do agree that the laughing thing is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. There are more effective means of dealing with a student who is laughing during class.

erin k. skye-moore's picture
erin k. skye-moore
5th grade teacher from new york

make sure you are always circulating in the classroom as you teach. I can't stay in one place or sit because I have the same issue with my students. Also you can separate them, or set it up in the classroom that they can separate themselves in order to get their work done. We also have a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities posted in the classroom. Last year it was more effective and I could refer to it and move on. These students, however, seem to need more time and guidance before they can self-regulate. For every right, there are responsibilities they have -for example, they have the right to move in the classroom, and the responsibility to move only when they are working independently, and to move without distraction, etc. One good book is Tools for Teaching by Fred Jones.

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