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posted Jul 6, 2017, 1:56 AM by Jose Dasig
by: Jerico Venedict Valdez Nazareno


Discipline is one of the facets in having an efficient classroom management and it is the educators’ responsibility to effectively communicate and instill discipline in their students.  However, the word “discipline” has a harsh connotation to the students.  As it is written in the dictionary, discipline means the practice of training people to obey rules or code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.  Thus, most of the students think that discipline is simply about maintaining the law and order in the classroom which they usually refer to as a way to control and punish them, especially those in the secondary level.   

Instilling discipline in secondary students is a very challenging job for all the educators as it is known that secondary students, mostly teenagers, are emotionally unstable due to the hormonal and physical changes during puberty.  They are beginning to be more self-conscious, oversensitive, short-tempered, independent and secretive.  Furthermore, they are starting to cling to the idea that they can do things without the help of an adult and demand freedom when it comes to decision-making however impulsive or reckless they can be.  They usually build an invisible wall that separates themselves from the adults around them, and that only their circle of friends or peers can have access to.  This wall gives rise to peer pressure which also affects the secondary students to behave in a certain way.  And for these reasons, the educators shall carefully choose which discipline strategy to use to positively hone the behavioral aspect of the secondary students.

There are several discipline strategies that educators may apply to their students which are classified into three main approaches, namely: Preventive Discipline, Supportive Discipline and Corrective Discipline

A Preventive Discipline Approach is mainly about establishing expectations and guidelines for behavior, and making sure that it is clearly understood by all the students.  Such guidelines may include rules about speaking, language use, tests and etc.  It is essential that the educators clearly explain each rule during the first few days of class for the students to know what is expected of them, and what behaviors are and are not appropriate in any circumstances.  Providing a stimulating curriculum, involving and empowering students, and continuously emphasizing good manners, self-respect and respect for others are some of the ways that educators may use to successfully prevent misbehavior.  A preventive discipline approach also covers the consequences of misbehavior.  As such, heated argument in class can be avoided for the students understand what is to come.   

All the students, particularly the secondary students, can give in to any temptations at any time and that a preventive discipline approach may not work all the time.  This is an indication that a Supportive Discipline Approach is needed to apply.  This discipline approach helps students with self-control by guiding them back on track.  A supportive discipline provides a student with suggestions and options for correcting any undesirable behavior, and to accept or avoid further punishment.  For example, if a student is chewing gum inside the classroom after a teacher announced that chewing gum inside the classroom is prohibited, the teacher may say, “You know that chewing of gum inside the classroom is forbidden.  Spit it in the bin or I will need to hold you after class.”  The student has been given option to accept or avoid further punishment; the behavior has been redirected and the student has been guided back on track through a teacher’s supportive discipline approach.  Reminders, redirection, verbal warnings and non-verbal communications are all examples of supportive discipline.   

Even the best efforts in preventive and supportive discipline cannot manage all misbehaviors.  When a student keeps on violating rules and fails to resolve a behavioral problem, a Corrective Discipline Approach shall be employed.  This approach is the final resort where a set of consequences is given to the students.  The goal of the corrective discipline approach is to correct inappropriate behavior as it occurs, especially when there is a serious violation of rules or a major disruption.  Although corrective discipline requires educators’ intervention, this discipline shall neither intimidate students nor shall prompt power struggle to avoid hostile atmosphere in the classroom.  The educators shall take into account that not all secondary students are receptive, but humiliating and belittling students as a way of corrective discipline may make things worse.  It is known that humiliation can contribute to the psychological damage of the students, as well as fear and resentment.  Thus, it is suggested that the educators shall speak calmly, but firmly and in a matter-of-fact manner.  If it may deem necessary, the educator shall talk with the student privately about disruptive behavior and redirect it in positive directions. For a corrective discipline to be efficient, it shall be applied consistently and objectively, and that a regular follow through on promised consequences shall be carried out as well.  

In order for learning to be viable, it is imperative that classroom discipline is maintained not simply imposed.  The following are some helpful tips to maintain classroom discipline:

1. Create and Enforce Comprehensive Rules

            - Rules shall be created with due diligence.  They shall cover all the essential aspects in classroom discipline and that certain factors shall be considered to make them doable.  Moreover, each rule shall be stated and explained clearly in order for the students to easily understand and follow it.  The consequences of violating the rules shall also be presented classroom discipline and that certain factors shall be considered to make them doable.  Moreover, each rule shall be stated and explained clearly in order for the students to easily understand and follow it.  The consequences of violating the rules shall also be presented beforehand.

2. Establish Reputations of Uniformity, Neutrality and Consistency

            - Rules shall be implemented to all the students without bias and in a consistent manner.  The educators shall act fairly at all times.  For example, if a teacher has confiscated a mobile phone from a student who is using it during the class, the same thing shall be applied to any student who will be caught the next day.  The educators shall also serve as role models for the students.  A teacher cannot expect his/her students to behave properly if the teacher himself/herself does not act appropriately.  Remember that a great leader is also a great follower.  Respect from the students will be earned by educators who are displaying neutrality, consistency, and who are abiding the rules themselves.  With respect from the students, the educators can easily encourage the students to behave suitably under any circumstances.     

3.  Avoid Too Much Interruption

            - There will be several instances that misbehavior shall be addressed immediately and can cause interruption.  No matter how hard the educators try, it is sometimes impossible to avoid interruption in the class when dealing with misbehavior, especially when there is a need to act expeditiously.  The educators shall therefore use their best judgment to lessen disruption so as not to take away so much time of the learning opportunity from the students.  The educators may ask question to one of the students who are talking during discussion or they can use humor to get them back on track, but avoid using sarcasm, insults or threats.  Sarcasm, insults and threats may impair the relationship of the educators with their students and may have negative impact on the students.  In case immediate confrontation is unavoidable, the educators shall make other students occupied with exercises before talking privately to the offender so that the whole class will not be interrupted.  No matter how difficult a situation can be, the educators shall strive to maintain composure and patience.

4.  Consistently Practice Effective Follow Through

            - Effective follow through is truly the key in instilling discipline wherein the iterative processes of Plan-Do-Check-Act are carried out with utmost diligence.  Plan is setting and communicating the expectations, guidelines and rules; Do is the implementation of those rules; Check is monitoring whether rules are being followed and are efficiently implemented; and implemented; and Act is the necessary corrective actions both for disobedience and discipline approach after evaluation has been made.  It is also important that incidents and actions taken are recorded accordingly to easily track their progress.    

5.  Give Students Opportunities

            - Giving students control over certain things in the classroom will make them feel trusted and dependable.  By showing students that educators have faith in their abilities, they will feel like the overall management and flow of the classroom is up to them to uphold as well.  Also, giving students opportunities to be heard and to be understood will make them to be more trusting.  This will help the educators in building a good relationship with the students and will consequently develop them to be more engaged, confident, responsible and proactive like mature persons that they are meant to be.   to be more trusting.  This will help the educators in building a good relationship with the students and will consequently develop them to be more engaged, confident, responsible and proactive like mature persons that they are meant to be.   

6.  Increase Parental Involvement

            - The first persons to know the students well are their parents.  Thus, the parents can provide unparalleled support to the educators, especially in resolving difficult behavioral problems.  The educators shall increase parental involvement with the students’ progress – both academic and behavioral progress.  In order for the parents to get involved, regular parent-teacher meetings shall be integrated in the school policies.  This will be the perfect time for the educators and parents to exchange information about the students.  This will help the parents to be informed if there are concerns to be addressed and this will also help the educators to know any underlying issues at home that evidently affect the performance and behavior of the students in the class.  With a collaborative effort, the educators and the parents can contemplate on the best way to handle the students.