Best Student Discipline Strategies
From Our 2004 Classroom Management Articles
Hello from Ruth Herman Wells, the person that writes all the educational articles here on Youth Change Professional Development Workshops' website. We've piled up a lot of great K-12 educational articles this year and in this article, we'll share some of our best, most effective student discipline and behavior management strategies of all time.
So, here are some exciting new student behavior and classroom management strategies for you to use right now. Enjoy!
Discipline, Behavior and Classroom Management Methods
1. Famous Last Words
Ask students to imagine "Famous Last Words" from years ago. For example, years ago, someone may have said "People will always need horses for travel," and "Nothing will ever replace the typewriter." List your students' responses on the board and discuss. Next, ask your class members to identify what may be their own "Famous Last Words," and elicit answers like "I'll always be able to find a job without a diploma," and "There is no way I will need computer skills."
2. Would You Put Your Future in the Deep Freeze?
This unusual, but compelling intervention requires access to a freezer. Using permanent ink, make up cards that promise rewards or treats to your class members. For example, a card might say "When you see snacks in the room, trade this card for any snack you want," or "When offered, you can use this card to leave class early." Use heavy laminate to encase the cards, then distribute an assortment of cards to students. Students will be enthusiastic and positive about the cards; allow them to voice their pleasure. Next, ask the class members to write their names on the cards they receive, then instruct the students to return all the cards to you. Once you have collected all the cards, submerge the cards in a container of water as your students look on. Next, place the cards in a freezer. You must wait until the cards are frozen in the water to finish this intervention, so plan to continue this exercise in a subsequent class.
To continue the intervention, bring the frozen cards to your next class. Now, do offer snacks, early dismissal, and the other items written on the cards. Students will be unable to locate or use their frozen cards. Let students voice their frustration, then ask the class members to determine the point of this unusual activity. Here is the point: it can be extremely frustrating if you need something and it is in the "deep freeze" when you need it. What might that "something" be? Perhaps a diploma, sobriety, literacy, computer skills, or whatever point you wish it to be for your particular group. Offer students the opportunity to repeat this exercise at the next class using defrosted cards.
Using the defrosted cards, repeat the exercise. Now, students can easily get what they want. Discuss this observation with the class, then ask the class to determine how this observation relates to what can happen if people put their diploma in the deep freeze– or their sobriety, or their literacy, etc.
Our Poster #324 (shown above) is just one of our hundreds of posters that can continually reinforce your message to students that school and education are critically important.
3. How are We Doing?
The new year is a time of new beginnings and reflection. There is no better time than now to ask your students to look at how your class or group is faring. If you don't already ask students to regularly evaluate your class, you may be surprised at the answers. You may shocked at the impact just asking will have on your relationships with your students, who are often quite impressed that you cared enough to ask. Evaluation forms that ask students to finish the sentences, work especially well. For example, questions could include: "The one thing that helps me is…" and "The one thing that does not help me is…" You will learn so much about how to best interact with, and assist your charges. We believe in this intervention so much that we have conducted evaluations on every class we've sponsored in our 15 year history.
4. First In, First Out
To improve punctuality, create a rule that offers the first students to arrive, the opportunity to be the first students to leave at the end of your class. You might even allow them to leave several minutes early. This courtesy can be related to the world of employment, where sometimes employees who arrive early, are permitted to leave a bit early, or they may receive promotions, awards, or other benefits for their on-going promptness.
Our Poster #319 (shown at right) can powerfully reinforce your students' new understanding of the importance of punctuality, and can effectively help preserve the improvements you've generated.
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5. Misbehavior Needed
Ask your class to name all the jobs and businesses where employees can misbehave in the manner that students do. (There are none.) Next, ask your class members if they will ever need to work.
6. When the Hand Goes Up…
The first minutes of class or group can be wasted on quieting students. As with any expectation for behavior, you must teach students how to perform the behavior before you expect it. Here is a wonderful device that can engender immediate quiet. Teach your students: "When the hand goes up, the mouth goes shut." To encourage participation, consider asking one of the students to lead the intervention.
7. Sounds of Silence
Here is another device to quiet your group quickly. This device is a lot of fun. Using a TV remote control, teach students to become "mute" when you push the button on the remote. Students tend to like this intervention, and will often become mute mid-word, just like a TV would. To make this device work well, be sure to "unmute" your students too. If you wish, this technique can be used throughout class, and at other times.
8. Overdue Sue and You
Punctuality can be a chronic problem at your site. Teach students punctuality skills, and you'll find that this chronic problem is less chronic. Ask your class members to imagine the excuses for lateness that might be offered by Overdue Sue, Tardy Marty, and Late Great Nate. Next, ask students to devise specific solutions. Finally, assist students to apply the solutions in their own lives.
9. There Must be 2004 Things You Need to Know by 2004
There are some new sounds around in 2004. Ask your students to explain those sounds, and include items like these: Spam filter, portable cell number, terminated benefits, generic equivalent, and land line. (Translation: spam filters attempt to remove junk e-mail; cell phone numbers can now be transferred from carrier to carrier; terminated benefits mean your insurance or other service has ended; generic equivalent drugs may be cheaper counterparts of brand-name drugs; a land line is a non-cellular phone.) Ask students to consider if they can keep up with the conversation in 2004.
10. Control the Uncontrollable
We are often asked to present our workshop at schools where the staff feel that the students are out-of-control. During these workshops, staff always want to know how to get back in control, especially when nothing seems to work. Here are the first two steps. First, it is much easier to start over than rehabilitate a class or group that has been out- of-control. A natural time of year to start over is January, which is traditionally viewed as a time of beginnings. If you take this step, be sure to acknowledge the past problems, and emphasize that those problems will not be continuing. You now must absolutely follow through on those words, or the problems will likely worsen.
The immediate question then becomes, "How do I follow through and maintain better control?" The answer is that you must learn and use techniques that fit extremely out-of-control youngsters. This is the second of the two initial steps. For many youth professionals, your training did not help you learn different management techniques for different types of youngsters. Ideally, you would have learned a lot in college about uncontrollable (conduct disordered) youth, and how you must work with them differently. However, many youth professionals aren't given this training. Your second and third issue of this magazine covered this population, and gave you a few key do's and don'ts. To maintain better control, you must use the correct methods for severely misbehaved students, and you must train and motivate all your students to perform the behaviors that you expect. Need a recap on severely misbehaved youth? Here is initial information to get you started. This introductory article will not be everything that you need, but it will give you some of the key basics to get your started on a better year– even for your most defiant students who are so hard to discipline effectively.
Our online workshops can quickly provide more in-depth understanding of hard-to-discipline students. View our many choices for online professional development. All offer free clock hours, and $45 college credit is also available for some online professional development choices.