An important part of behavior management is knowing what to do if a disruption occurs. Having class rules is not enough; you need to decide what to do when those class rules are broken. This is where the discipline plan comes in.
The best discipline plan is straightforward, easy to follow, and quick to implement. A good rule is the “three strikes” policy. This means that in most instances, the students will go through three steps to get to the highest tier of the discipline plan. Here's a sample discipline plan with three steps:
For the first rule infraction, the student's name is written on board.
After the second infraction, a checkmark goes next to the name.
After the third infraction, the student sits in time out.
This type of system needs to be adapted to the level of the students and your particular needs. Other examples of disciplinary tactics teachers often use include the following:
Giving after-school detention
Assigning sentences for the student to write
Requiring the student to help clean the classroom
Calling the parents
Giving time out
Sending the child to the principal, guidance counselor, or the administrator designated for disciplinary action
Once you have decided on your particular discipline plan, you need to post it where all students can see it.
Enforcing the Rules
You now have class rules and a posted discipline plan. However, that's not enough to maintain discipline — you need to follow through. When a student breaks a rule, you must follow the discipline plan you have in place. Only then will students learn that they are not allowed to break the rules.
At some point, you may be forced to deal with a physical altercation between students. The best plan is not to act alone to stop a fight. If you are alone, send a student for help, and try to ensure the safety of yourself and those students not involved.
To be fair and consistent, you should follow the steps of the discipline plan for every student. With that said, there will be times when a student misbehaves so outrageously that you have no choice but to jump right to level three on the plan. For example, if you have a student who gets up in the middle of the class, cusses at you and the rest of the class, and then leaves, you would write that student a referral.
Avoid Interruptions for Discipline
As you teach your lesson, make sure that you don't interrupt the flow to enforce discipline. Your discipline plan should not require you to stop everything to deal with minor misbehaviors. For example, if two students are passing notes to each other as you are holding a class discussion, do not interrupt your class to discuss this with them. This can easily escalate the situation into a confrontation.
Instead, follow your discipline procedure. Keep talking as you write the students' names on the board. This might take some practice, but it is well worth it. It shows students that you have a handle on things even as you are teaching the lesson.