Appropriate Disciplinary Actions
The disciplinary actions you choose to take should be based on a number of factors including the type of infraction, the age of the students involved, and any extenuating circumstances such as whether the student has disabilities that might have been a factor in the problem.
It can sometimes be difficult to determine the best course of action when students have caused disruptions in your class. Your posted discipline plan should be a guide to help you make these decisions. However, sometimes you have to take extra measures to ensure a safe and positive classroom environment for all students.
What do you do when you are dealing with a seven year old who hits other children when she is angry? How about a student who constantly talks and disrupts your classroom? Every year you will probably have at least one challenging student in your class. Behavior contracts are a great way to provide those students with the extra structure and support they need to change their behavior.
Behavior contracts are typically made between the teacher, student, and parents. Parents' involvement is key in order to make these contracts truly effective. A good behavior contract will include your expectations for the child's behavior, consequences for misbehavior, and rewards for acceptable behavior. It also should be easy for you and clear for the student and his parents to understand how you're going to track the student's behavior.
Try to make the behavior contract as measurable as possible. State exactly what behavior you are expecting from the student. For example, it is much more effective to state that you expect the student to stop talking while you are speaking to the class than to say that he needs to be quiet.
Behavior contracts should reward students for improved behavior and provide them with clear consequences for misbehavior. A good system of rewards is one of the keys to getting students to change their behavior. Make the system easy to follow. For example, they might get a prize from a treat jar or treasure box if they do not receive any negative marks on a given day.
Consequences for too many negative marks should be equally clear. You might say that two or more negative marks would mean that the student would lose recess for a day. Keeping behavior contracts clear and easy to follow will help ensure their success.
Referrals are an effective tool in middle and high school if they are used in a judicious manner. However, referrals should not be used for every infraction in your class. Using referrals for minor infractions will lessen the meaning and weight of referrals. A referral's role is to act as the strongest deterrent for students because they are no longer dealing with you but with the administration.
If you overuse referrals, the administration at your school may question your ability to handle discipline issues within your class and your classroom-management techniques. In addition, your students will receive lighter punishment if you overuse the referrals system. For example, if you turn in three referrals a week, the administrator giving students their punishments will probably be much more lenient than if you turn in only three or four referrals each year. When a teacher who rarely resorts to referrals writes one, the administration takes notice and realizes that this situation is important enough for their intervention.
In some schools, referrals are only encouraged in specific cases. One reason for this is that the administration may see numerous referrals as reflecting poorly on the school. Do not let this keep you from writing referrals as part of your discipline plan when you feel it is in the student's best interest.
If a student has been given in-school or out-of-school suspension based on your referral, you should expect a bit of awkwardness when she returns to class. The best way to handle this situation is to run your class as usual, making sure to include the student in the discussion or lesson. Then, when you have a moment, talk to the student and explain that even though you do not approve of her past behavior, you are willing to act as if it never happened.
In other words, you will not ignore future misbehavior, but you do not expect the student to misbehave either. If you meet the student with hostility, you will probably experience further misbehaviors. If the meets you with anger despite your best efforts, then you might need to call in an administrator as a mediator. Also, a call to the parent can be very effective in these instances.