Aiming for Respect and Discipline in the Classroom | Science in the City

Nov 1, 2019

Aiming for Respect and Discipline in the Classroom

Aiming for Respect and Discipline in the Classroom

If you are struggling with classroom management and feel like it’s a struggle to have your students respect you and follow your discipline, here are a few key suggestions. 

Tips and strategies to help build respect and improve classroom management

My Background

Before I start, I want you to understand where I’m coming from. I have taught for 14 years in an urban district, with an overall free and reduced lunch rate of about 85%. Our population is mostly minority, largely African-American. I am not an expert on classroom management by any means, but as a small-stature, white female I have learned quite a bit over the last 14 years!

Relationships

First of all, respect and classroom discipline all comes back to building relationships. Relationships are the biggest key! You've probably heard it over and over again but it can't be said enough. So, how do you build relationships with your students? Be a little bit flexible. Get to know them as people. Share parts of yourself with them as you are comfortable. It doesn't have to be anything too personal. But don’t be afraid to show that you have a sense of humor and that you are a real person.

Be Flexible

Appreciate that they are people, not just students. That also might mean being flexible with how they do an assignment or giving them a little bit of a break on a particular day if you can see that they really need it. Treat an isolated day of non-compliance the way you would want to be treated if you weren’t feeling well or had an off day. However, when you see a pattern, treat it differently. But still with respect. Don’t humiliate and confront a student. Discuss it with him or her separately. Think about it, we go to work and we are not always at our best. We appreciate it when our co-workers help out, but we sometimes don't allow students the same flexibility. There may be a way to compromise with a student or to meet their needs while still getting them to do the work.

You are the Adult

Remember, you are the adult, and they are the child. I say this not to hammer home the idea of the student ‘listening to the adult’ and ‘following directions.’ Instead, I am suggesting that you can outsmart them! If you can make some small concessions and at the end of the day they are still doing work then you win! Remember the big picture, and don’t get into a confrontation with them. Keep your eye on the goal - their classwork and their learning and figure out a plan together to help them get there. If they're doing what they need to be doing in some format, then you're winning even if they didn't do it exactly the way that you had in mind.

Consistency

You can also help with discipline in the classroom by being really really consistent for a long period of time so that when students walk into your room they always know what the expectations are. They know that when you say something you will mean it. This doesn't mean being confrontational necessarily but being clear and then sticking to it. For example, if you ask students to be quiet when you're talking, and when they are talking, you may need to stop and remind them that it's your turn to talk and then wait. It will feel like you're wasting class time waiting. The waiting might be brutal. But, by establishing those norms at the beginning of the year, it will save a lot of trouble later. Similarly, if you expect students to pick up a folder or paper on the way in, and they walked by without doing it, remind them to come back and get it.

Plan for Success

Lastly, another step towards respect and discipline in the classroom is helping the students feel successful and feel like their time is not being wasted. I believe that even our struggling students want to feel that they can accomplish what they're supposed to be doing in class. Many students may get frustrated. You may be seeing what appears as disrespect or discipline problems but if, instead, students can focus their energy in a more positive way you may not see as many behavior problems in class.

Safety First

Also remember, safety first so if you are ever concerned about safety don't hesitate to have a student removed from your class.

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