Properly managing classroom discipline can be key to creating an efficient educational environment. There are hundreds of different tips and approaches that may be useful in different situations with different classes. Some of the most common tips for classroom discipline include making clear rules, setting a behavioral example, enforcing rules consistently, and balancing discipline with incentives.
Many educational experts agree that classroom discipline is easier when the rules are clearly outlined. Teachers often keep rules posted on classroom walls, and provide students with a copy of any rules and requirements at the beginning of the term. Some experts suggest keeping rules to a minimum, using no more than five or six main rules. Another tip for rule setting is to keep rules positive; instead of saying “No cell phones,” a positive way to word this might be “Cell phones stay in bags during class.” Keeping lists short and positive may prevent students from feeling overwhelmed or over-controlled.
One common teaching philosophy is that teachers can only get respect from students if they return it in kind. Classroom discipline may well be impossible if students have no respect for a teacher. Respecting students does not mean letting them run roughshod, but it can include behaviors such as not interrupting students when they give answers, not insulting students over incorrect answers or poor grades, and treating them like they are capable, rational people. Setting an example of respectful behavior can help students return the same kind of treatment.
The perception of playing favorites, or picking on particular students, can be devastating to classroom discipline. Once the rules have been clearly set, it is important to enforce them equally for all classroom members. This may mean disciplining a normally exemplary student for forgetting his or her book, or rewarding a typically disruptive student when he or she does something correctly. When rewards and discipline is equal for all students, they may begin to realize that class performance is based on personal behavior and not the personal preferences of the teacher.
Classroom discipline is important for an efficient classroom, but incentives and rewards can help transform a class into a fun and exciting experience for all students. Setting up an incentive system that rewards students for excellent work, good citizenship, and other meritorious actions can help improve student enthusiasm, which may lead to a decreasing need for disciplinary measures. Some reward systems let students accumulate points throughout the term, which can be exchanged for prizes at the end of the year. Others might be as simple as letting “students of the week” sit in comfortable armchairs instead of their desks for a day. Using rewards balanced with discipline can prevent the classroom from turning into an unpleasantly authoritarian society, and may help keep learning fun and motivating for students and teachers alike.