Positive Classroom Discipline - By Lynn Staley

Are you a new teacher? Are you struggling with discipline and classroom management?

To many teachers, discipline means to punish, but does punishment transform the misbehavior? Does it work?

Discipline means to teach. Rather than detention and missing recess, positive child guidance focuses on both the weaknesses and strengths of each child and then teaches the specific skills necessary to be successful in the classroom. It is time to discard the traditional paradigm of punishment and consider looking at children through a new lens of positive child guidance.

In a recent report “Reducing Behavior Problems in the Elementary Classroom,” by the Institute of Education Sciences: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (2008), the authors reported that an “estimated one-third of students fail to learn because of psychosocial problems that interfere with their ability to fully attend to and engage in instructional activities, prompting a call for ‘new directions for addressing barriers to learning’ (Adelman and Taylor, 2005)” (p. 5). The authors continued to link children’s behavior and achievement by reporting that “approaches aimed at improving school and classroom environments…can enhance the chances that effective teaching and learning will occur” (p. 5). Therefore, one of the first steps in achieving academic success for all children should be to establish positive learning environments in all classrooms, where each child perceives him/herself to be a competent and confident learner.

The first step: Put on a new lens and make a list of at least five positive qualities or strengths about each child in your class. If our goal is to teach children responsibility, social skills, independence, and self-control, it won’t happen when children are sitting out in the hall!


You can download the first chapter of Lynn's book "Nurturing Positive Behavior In Your Classroom" for free at Positive Discipline in the Classroom.

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