For years I did not know what it took to have discipline in my classroom. I’m an easy going person and it’s not in my personality to deal with behavior. I’ve had some miserable years where I let kids get away with too much and I would go home exhausted and upset.
I usually give surveys at the end of the year to help me improve. One year in the survey, several kids said that they had a hard time learning in my classroom because I let kids disrupt the class and I did nothing about it. Wow! I felt awful. That woke me up. I looked at my classroom full of students a lot differently after that.
I was a coach for many years and I felt like if I wrote referrals and sent kids to the office, that it looked like I couldn’t handle my business in my room. Coaches are supposed to have total control, right? I also was lazy and didn’t want to go through all the steps it took. The thought of documentation, calling parents and setting up conferences was enough to keep me from finding a good method of dealing with behavior issues.
Here’s what I finally learned that worked for me:
Secret #1: Be firm. Not too nice and not too mean. You have to find a happy balance. If I say something, I have to stick to it. If I tell someone to be quiet or I’ll call their mom, then I have to call their mom. That’s not being mean, it’s doing what I said I was going to do.
Secret #2: Start from the beginning. It’s hard to try to discipline in the middle of the year. You will have a very hard time getting your students on track if you wait that long. On the first day of school, if you notice a kid that is already being rowdy, that’s a warning sign. Ninety-nine percent of your kids will be very quiet the first day of school. I’ve been teaching for 30 years and I’ve noticed that the kids that are bold and rowdy the first day could be the ones you need to start with right away. (Hey that rhymes! First Day…Right Away!)
Secret #3: Have a plan! Create a plan you can live with. It needs to be something that you will follow and something that your administration will back. It needs to include documentation, notifying parents and conferencing with the student. I have a plan in my TpT store that does exactly this:
Go check it out if you’d like, but it might not fit your personality or your situation or grade level. My plan is for secondary students. It will probably work for students as young as 5th grade. If you are a young teacher, get with a veteran teacher and ask them what they do. You will be so glad that you put a plan in place. Your students will love you for this and you will be amazed at how much you can accomplish in a classroom where you can actually teach.
*Start from the beginning
*Have a plan