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Discipline in Schools

Ways to Foster Discipline in Schools


The main purpose of school is to provide students with an educational foundation from which they can build successful independent lives. However, disruptions in the classroom cause roadblocks to student achievement. Maintaining discipline in schools is essential when create an effective learning environment. Following is a list of ideas that can help create and maintain discipline in schools.

1. Increase Parental Involvement

Boy (9-11) with father and female teacher, sitting at desk in classroom
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Parents truly make a difference in student achievement and behavior. Schools should institute a policy where teachers are required to contact parents periodically through the year. Half-term or end-of-term reports are often not enough. A parent cannot help solve an issue if they do not know one exists. While calls home take time, in the end they can help provide solutions to very difficult classroom problems. This is not to say that all parental involvement will be positive or have a measurable effect on student behavior. Nonetheless, this is an area which many successful schools claim make a huge difference.

2. Create and Enforce a Schoolwide Discipline Plan

Discipline plans are a way to provide students with a consistent and fair plan of what will happen if they misbehave. While many schools have a discipline plan on the books, it is often not well known or followed by teachers and administrators. Having it posted in every classroom and in hallways is a good way to start. Effective classroom management should include the posting and use of this discipline plan. Training about implementation along with periodic reviews can also help.

3. Foster Discipline in Schools Through Leadership

The principal and assistant principals are of major importance in fostering an academically focused school-wide environment. Their actions form the basis of the overall mood for the school. If they are consistent in supporting teachers, implementing the discipline plan, and following through on disciplinary actions, then teachers will follow their lead. On the other hand, if they are lax on discipline, this will become apparent over time and misbehavior will increase.

4. Practice Effective Follow Through

While posting the discipline plan is important so that all students are informed of the consequences for misbehavior, following through on the discipline plan is the key to truly fostering discipline in schools. In the classroom, if a teacher does not follow through and deal with misbehavior, it will increase. School-wide, if administrators do not follow the discipline plan and support the teachers, they could easily lose control of the situation.

5. Provide Alternative Education Opportunities

This item is typically something that a school district has to provide. To be able to achieve, students need to be placed in situations where they are best able to learn without distracting the wider school community. Alternative schools can help remove students from volatile situations. Even moving students to new classes which can be controlled at the school level can help in some situations. In the end, decisions need to be made for the betterment of all students involved. If one student is disrupting a class and after numerous intervention attempts has shown an unwillingness to change, then alternative means of education need to be investigated for the sake of the rest of the students in that class.

6. Build a Reputation for Fairness

Hand in hand with effective leadership and school-wide consistent follow through is the belief by students that teachers and administrators are fair in their disciplinary actions. While there are sometimes extenuating circumstances that require administrators to make adjustments for individual students, overall students who misbehave should be treated similarly.

7. Implement Additional Effective Schoolwide Policies

Discipline in schools can evoke the image of administrators stopping fights before they begin or dealing with hostile students in a classroom setting. However, effective discipline begins with the implementation of school-wide housekeeping policies that all teachers must follow. For example, if a school implements a tardy policy that all teachers and administrators follow, tardies will decrease. If, instead, teachers are expected to handle this individually, some will do a better job than others and tardies will have a tendency to increase.

8. Maintain High Expectations

From administrators to guidance counselors to teachers, schools must institute high expectations for both academic achievement and behavior. These expectations must include messages of encouragement and means of support to help all children succeed. Michael Rutter researched the effect of high expectations at school and reported his findings in the book, Fifteen Hundred Hours: "Schools that foster high self-esteem and that promote social and scholastic success reduce the likelihood of emotional and behavioral disturbance."
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