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Positive Discipline

Student behavior problems can interfere with instruction and make the classroom a place for negative interaction rather than learning.  We had a special staff meeting last week on Positive Discipline.  It was a timely introduction for me.  That very same day, I had a student who had several times over the last couple of weeks, simply refuse to work.  This particular day, he scribbled all over his artwork and turned it in, giving himself a failing grade when he filled out the rubric.  My mentor teacher and I have spoken with him and she emailed his parents, who assured us they would be speaking with him about behavioral expectations and responsibility.  Still, he refuses to work and his noncompliance is preventing him from learning in class.

There were several ideas in the Positive Discipline meeting that were immediately useful to me in class.  First was learning to look at behavior issues in a different way.  Instead of the usual explanation of believing that the student’s behavior is an intentional attempt to get attention, we can look at noncompliant or disruptive behavior as a lack of skills; skills we can help to teach the student.  Sometimes students do not have parents who teach them social skills or adaptability.  With this change in viewpoint, the logical intervention changes from one of imposed consequences to one of teaching students the skills of flexibility and frustration tolerance.  To make that change, we must be mindful of the Positive Discipline definition of good teaching.  It is a three-part definition.

1.  Be responsive to the hand you’ve been dealt (deal with the students you have, not the ones you wish you had).

2.  Be responsive to the needs of the individual.

3.  Be responsive to the needs of the group.

I am still struggling with the same particular student but I now believe that it is up to me to find a positive way to help him learn to be more compliant, remembering that, as the Positive Discipline speakers reminded us, compliance is a cognitive skill.  As a teacher, can teach that skill-set to my students.

I am often reminded that good teaching is very much like good parenting.  We must model the behavior we want students to display.  We must teach students the knowledge and skills they do not have; social, personal, as well as in the content area we teach.  The Positive Discipline introduction will be the first of several staff meetings on Positive Discipline.  I am looking forward to the other meetings.

~ by anitawesto on March 24, 2013.