Dealing with classroom discipline is difficult enough—this is even more true at the end of the school year. The weather is warm, students and teachers alike are looking forward to summer, and tensions are often growing...
Here are a few tips for handling misbehaviors during this time of year:
*Review your disicpline plan if necessary. Avoid the practice of discipline by reaction!
*Do not try to make any drastic changes unless things are completely falling apart
*Anticipate the students getting a little more loose. Be prepared to deal with a few extra behavior issues.
*Keep a positive attitude. Try not to ruin positive relationships that have been formed over the school year by overreacting to discipline problems.
*Don’t get too stressed out—the end of the year is near!!!
I received the following question:
I sub for a middle school where the students show little respect for the teacher and I feel powerless. They come into the classroom and swear, chew gum, and disrupt the class. What can I do?
This is a great question. Discipline is hard enough when you are in charge and you have time to set up your own plans. If I was in your situation, I would handle it in one of two ways:
1) I would accept that this kind of behavior was the norm at this school and then decide to either continue subbing there, knowing that this kind of thing occurs, or, if it bothered me, I would not go back.
2) My more likely approach would be to investigate the discipline procedures for the school and the teachers that I was subbing for, if possible. I would want to be familiar with the usual consequences that would result for the students who engaged in the kind of behavior that you described. This is especially important if you plan to work on a regular basis at the school.
A general rule for successful discipline is to be as prepared as possible. Plan on being stoic and unemotional and you will greatly improve your chances of success. As a substitute teacher, you are still the person in charge. Act that way. Do not tolerate any disrespect and be clear with your expectations.
For minor issues, give one warning and then have students sign their names on a piece of paper if they break the rule again. In extreme situations, be prepared to get assistance from nearby teachers or administrators. In most cases, however, you can achieve a somewhat orderly classroom by being serious and clear.
Teachers and others who are in supervisory positions can easily face burnout if they are not careful. These leaders would be wise to do the following things to help stop this burnout from occurring:
*Don’t count down days to the weekend and next vacation—Time off is great, but too much attention to it can destroy a person’s attitude when at work.
*Get along with co-workers—Jobs are stressful enough without adding this unnecessary conflict.
*Get enough sleep—Studies are coming out all the time that show how much lack of sleep can affect mood, performance, and overall health.
*Mingle away from work—Having a decent social life is a great way of keeping a job from consuming a person’s life.
*Exercise—30 minutes of exercise on a regular basis has been shown to be very beneficial.
One of the keys to my Discipline Without Anger plan is the avoidance of using anger and emotion to handle every misbehavior that occurs. This is especially true when handling a class that is in the beginning stages of getting out of control. These situations are inevitable, no matter how good a teacher is with discipline.
The temptation for teachers in these kinds of situations is to try to match or overcome the emotion of the students who are out of control. This reaction often leads to the teacher trying to yell over the noise that the students are making and shout them down. Unless the situation is in full blown disaster or panic mode, this strategy is often a mistake. Many times students see an emotional teacher as one who has lost control. Teachers who can stay calm and under control for as long as possible and unemotionally implement their discipline plans will be much better off in the long run.
Now that I have a reputation for good discipline, I sometimes talk to people who want to come observe my classroom in the hopes of seeing what successful discipline looks like. The reality is that they may be surprised at what they see.
Good discipline does not necessarily mean that you can hear a pin drop at any given moment. Sometimes people stereotype good behavior as something that is super serious, low energy, and robotic. This does not have to be the case. All that really matters for successful discipline to be taking place is that nothing happens that the person in charge does not allow. If that means consistent quiet, then fine. On the other hand, if the person in charge has no problem with a little noise or conversation, then that is fine too. I am usually somewhere in between these two extremes, depending on what is taking place. The key idea here is that the person in charge has the power to decide!
Teachers who want to be successful simply need to figure out what they want to allow and not allow, and develop a plan to enforce those expectations.
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