9 Classroom Discipline Tips for Teachers

Discipline techniques for teachers
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Whether you’re teaching Sunday school to a group of preschoolers, or you’re teaching third graders how to read, it only takes a few behavior problems to disrupt everyone’s learning. Managing a group of children requires a slightly different approach than dealing with behavior problems one-on-one. Here are nine effective classroom discipline techniques:

1. Post Your List of Rules

Classroom rules may be very different from the rules kids encounter in other areas of their lives so it’s important to create a written list of rules and post them on the wall.

Similar to household rules, keep your list short and simple.

Frame your rules positive whenever possible. Instead of saying, “No running,” say, “Use walking feet.” Tell kids what to do—rather than what not to do.

2. Establish Clear Expectations

Make your expectations known ahead of time before you transition to new activities. Kids need to know what you expect during circle time versus what you expect during recess. It’s especially important to talk about your expectations whenever there’s a new activity or unfamiliar circumstance.

3. Pay Attention to the Positive

When it comes to behavior problems, you don’t want the saying ‘the squeaky wheel gets the grease,” to be accurate. The children who misbehave the most have a tendency to get the most attention from the teacher, even though much of the attention is negative.

Encourage positive behavior by giving the children who follow the rules the most attention.

Instead of repeatedly saying, “Billy, please stop talking,” turn to children around him and say, “Sally is sitting quietly. Nice job Sally. Alex is paying attention nicely too. Good work Alex.” This will inspire the misbehaving child to follow suit so he will get praised too.

4. Offer Incentives for Good Behavior

Some children are intrinsically motivated.

They strive to follow the rules and they care about their performance. But other kids, just don’t have that same level of motivation.

Offering incentives will ensure all the children are motivated. Whether children earn a star on a chart, or you use a token economy system, most children work hard for tangible rewards. Rewards can be individual or classroom-wide, and can range from a few minutes of free time, to a positive note sent home to parents.

5. Provide a Warning When Necessary

For minor problems, offer a warning. Gain the child’s attention, give your instructions clearly, and explain the consequence of misbehavior. If…then statements and Grandma’s Rule of Discipline are often very effective. Try saying, “Sammy, if you don’t stop talking to your neighbor, then you won’t be able to stay in that seat.”

6. Follow Through with Consequences

If a child exhibits a major rule violation—like he hits another child—follow through with an automatic consequence. For less serious offenses, give one warning.

Consequences will vary depending on your organization’s policy.

7. Problem-Solve with Kids

When dealing with a specific behavior problem, it’s often helpful to involve the child in problem-solving. Kids often develop creative and effective solutions to resolving a variety of issues. Point out the concern and ask a child for his suggestions. For example, say, “Bella, I notice you’ve had trouble getting along with the other kids at lunch two days in a row. What do you think would help?”

8. Work with Parents to Address Specific Problems

Behavior problems are best addressed when all caregivers respond to problems in a similar manner. When possible, include parents and other pertinent people so you can develop the most effective plan. Work together to establish a clear strategy for how you’ll respond to behavior problems.

9. Avoid Reinforcing Misbehavior

Sometimes, teachers inadvertently reward children who misbehave. If a misbehaving child receives special incentives—but the other children aren’t offered the same incentive—the plan could backfire. For example, if a child with serious behavior issues is allowed to have an extra recess every day if he follows the rules, the other children may start misbehaving in an attempt to receive special treatment as well.

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