September 25, 2005
Developing a Total School Discipline Plan Gene Bedley Executive Director, National Character Education Center September 25, 2005
Students can and will make responsible choices when administrators teachers and adults implement comprehensive plans for school wide discipline programs in their schools. All too often one of the major components of a comprehensive discipline plan is neglected and we fail to help students see the correlation between cause and effect and what ultimately strengthens them or weakens them. There are seven essential components that will enable your school to implement a successful discipline program.
1- Develop a clear Discipline Plan including who is responsible for what. Administrator’s Responsibility, Teacher’s Responsibility, Parent’s Responsibility and Student’s Responsibility. While the administrator is responsible for clarifying the district policies including the various areas of responsibility mentioned above they are also responsible for providing the leadership in clarifying the school rules and code of ethics, and various school wide procedures. It’s essential that all of the areas of responsibilities be printed in a document titled Total School Discipline Plan.
2-Focus your discipline plan on Student Responsibility rather than identifying various areas where you need control. Remember that the areas of student responsibility need to be very clear with little left for interpretation when it comes to what adults need from children
a. A focus on responsibility requires unlimited use of encouragement and reinforcement of desired behaviors. b. Monday Memos and weekly newsletters to the students help to continually clarify the expectations. c. Help students see the choices they make, make them and that every person deserves what their attitudes produce. d. If children experience a loss in privileges make sure they learn it was their choice that led to the consequence. e. Involve students in constructing the list of things that enhance learning and destroy learning. Use the list that enhances learning to write a class mission statement titled What we need from People Require student to sign the class mission after they assist in designing it.
3- Distinguish the difference between Compliance issues and those that are Negotiable. Help everyone see there is little if any options other than consequences when individuals do not follow compliance issues while at the same time helping others see that most disputed problems are negotiable. a. Keep your compliance rules and procedures to a minimum so you are open to numerous options. Even consequences that are tied to a specific violation can prevent people from working out a mutually decided solution. b. Create a list of consequences to chose from and work with each child and their parent in designing a plan to follow through in getting the desired outcome. c. Secure a signature from everyone including the teacher, administrator, student and parent.
4- Help every adult see the high correlation between motivation and student behavior. Be knowledgeable about numerous types of Child Currency.. Identify from the six major motivators below the motivators that contribute the most in propelling each student forward. Independence-Competition-Peer Approval-Adult Approval- Mystery Disclosures- Food-and Animal Transitions. a. Design or use student preference scales to ascertain the major motivators for each child. When children choose one motivator over the other it’s a good indicator of what they are motivated by. b. Don’t forget to ask your students what motivates them. c. Observe your kids in unstructured school time and see what and who they gravitate toward. (unobtrusive non reactive data gives you excellent information on what motivates each child)
5-Avoid an over indulgence in praise and punishment but rather focus on identifying Agreements & Replacement Behaviors that ultimately serve both the student and the teacher. a. Use the word agreement over and over again when making and confirming agreements. The word Agreement has come to mean very little in our society. Help your students recognize the importance of making and keeping their commitments. b. Encourage students with You Statements helping children see what they do they do! Kids that receive praise in large amounts tend to negate it after a period of time and it builds dependency on the adult if it is overused. You’ll know when you hear kids respond with What do I get Punishment tends to focus on the child’s mistake and past behavior rather than his/her future performance. c. Replace ineffective behaviors with solutions and strategies that kids buy into. (ownership is essential) d. Be knowledgeable about the variety of temperament types that need to be understood when disciplining and guiding children to make appropriate choices. Every child is wired differently and requires an individual plan.
6- Provide training in Ethics for all students including how to build an ethical community. Ethics education places a major emphasis on others. a. Take time to conduct ethic forum session on what’s the right thing to do when faced with various dilemmas. Place charts in your classroom that state Agree Strongly Agree, Moderately Agree, Disagree Strongly Disagree, Moderately Disagree and Still Thinking as well Solutions. Present an ethical dilemma and require that each student take a position of agreement or disagreement. Each student is required to stand by the sign of their choice as well give a rationale for their decision. (You can start with what’s the right way to treat each other) b. Promote school wide value themes including Respect and Responsibility. Build a number of classroom activities around the themes. Values and Character reference points serve as the focal points for all discipline problems. When there is a discipline problem adults usually point out a lack of compassion, disregard for the other persons point of view or a lack of sharing and cooperation. c. Implement a number of activities that require a student to tie shoe lace with one hand then team students up to share hands in tying shoelaces, pick up a spoon with one finger, wash their hand with one hand etc. d. Promote Role Models and the flaws in their life so that kids will see they are far from perfect. Add Character in Motion professional athletes biographies that help your students see that all role models have to overcome a variety of obstacles.
7-Implement options for learning different students including Temperament and Different Learning Types. Some children can adapt to new situations when they are requested while other students take more time to adapt. Adapting to new situations in only one temperament type.
The nine temperament types are 1-Adaptability 2-Sensory 3-Threshold 4-Persistence 5-Regularity 6- Activity Level 7-Approach /Withdrawal 8-Mood 9- Intensity
8. Institute a Problem Solving Strategies that includes Fact Finding (What Happened?) personal responsibility (How are you going to fix it?) and action steps to correct the problem (What would you be willing to do to fix it?) a. Provide a place or set of chairs for resolving conflicts b. Teach students a process for solving problems including 1. What’s the problem 2. Impact on student feelings 3. Solutions to fix the problem. 4. Explore what will happen if we don’t fix the problem 5. Include what other kids have tried in solving similar problems. c. Help children see that problems are positive encounters for testing us, protecting us, inspecting us, and perfecting us. d. Clarify for students that the definition for problems found in the dictionary is problems are merely questions that need to be solved.
Gene Bedley is an International instructor for the Bureau of Education and Research and is currently the Executive Director for the National Character Education Center in Rancho Santa Margarita California. He has trained thousands of teachers in his national seminars Discipline and the Difficult Child and is the author of dozens of books on Discipline and Character Development. His best selling book Discipline Strategies and Solutions includes dozens of classroom tested ideas for developing responsible and respectful children. He has been chosen as the National Educator of the Year by the PTA and received the Milken Family Foundations National Educator Award for his work in values based education!