Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Teaching Tuesday: Discipline

I think one of the biggest obstacles to being an effective teacher is getting your classroom under control. I firmly believe that if you have procedures, expectations, and relationships in place, any classroom can be well-managed. 

I've had my share of tough classes. Every school I have ever taught has has been overwhelmingly full of low-income, poverty-stricken families. One was even attached to and funded by a local home for troubled girls. Many years I have taught Special Ed./Inclusion, where I had multiple students with Autism, ODD, and there's no shortage of ADD/ADHD students in any school. I am not an expert. I have bad days just like every one else. I've raised my voice. I've mistaken a need for an annoyance. I've had ups and downs. However, I feel like in my 9th year now, I have genuinely found a rhythm and ways that work for me. I would consider classroom management to be one of my strengths, but I don't believe I am a "mean" teacher. {I'm sure some former students would disagree!} I've often been given some of the tougher cases year to year, and I am ok with that. I believe that those kids need to be invested in and worked with just like any other. 

One of the things that helped me become an effective teacher as opposed to a "mean" teacher when it comes to discipline is this book...

I read Teaching with Love and Logic after my first year of teaching. My first year, I had the tendency to be a yeller. I knew it. I hated it. I wanted something different. I bought this book on a whim, and it changed the way I think about discipline. The premise of the book is that when your students have clear guidelines and know you care, they'll be more likely to control themselves. It emphasizes building relationships with your students so they know that when you correct them, you do so out of concern for their well-being and not just because you want something a certain way. It taught me that simple things, like asking about their pet or recent baseball game, shows them that you care and are invested in them. We all want to try harder and do better when we know we matter to someone. 

One thing the book talks about that I wholeheartedly agree with is teaching the students to internalize rewards. None of us get a gold star or a raise every single time we do something great at our jobs. The same goes for students. They need to learn that consistency is key and to do better for pride and the good of the community. Now, these are still kids we're talking about, so they do respond quickly to external rewards. However, we want to build in them life-long social skills, not just temporary fixes. That is one reason I agree so much with the ideas in this book. 

I'm not affiliated with the publishers, authors, or anyone like that. Nobody is paying me to tell you about this. I simply know what it is like to go home at the end of the day feeling defeated and out of control in my classroom. The ideas in this book helped me to end that cycle and changed the way I treat my kiddos. That alone is reason enough to share!

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