Friday, January 30, 2015

A Collaborative Response to Discipline

Nothing stops learning faster than persistent disciplinary issues, and nothing frustrates teachers more than poor behavior that never seems to improve. Teachers are collaborating about instruction, standards, assessments and interventions, but how many teams take time on a regular basis to align their expectations for and their responses to acceptable and unacceptable behavior? 

School-wide rules are critical for student success, but they are most effective when grade level or department level teams personalize their united adherence and enforcement of rules and procedures.  It is very important for teams to take time throughout the year to review and refine how school-wide expectations should look and sound within their team.  The best teams take time to not only norm how they will work together.  They norm what they expect from all students in and out of the classroom, and furthermore they align how they will collectively respond when any student 
violates a classroom or school rule.  For positive behavior supports, teams work  together to create team-specific positive behavior supports and incentives that will  motivate students to make smart choices in their behavior and learning.  When  students commit a minor infraction, high performing teams align how they will  respond regardless of which teacher is responding to the behavior.   

Norming behavioral responses is important for three reasons.  

  1. New teachers or teachers who struggle with classroom management benefit from the expertise of others. 
  2. Team norms for behavior set the tone for commitment to school-wide rules.  
  3. Students rarely interact with solely one teacher, especially at the secondary level.  Students will encounter several teachers, and if students know that all teachers are on the same page when it comes to discipline expectations, students will be more inclined to respond positively regardless of which teacher is addressing them.  

To Respond to Discipline as a Team, 

Collaborative teams should establish common expectations for the following:

  • Behavior expectations, 
  • Corrective responses and 
  • Positive reinforcements
Teachers should take time to discuss not only those expectations but what behaviors trigger a response from the teacher, and which behaviors are ignored.  Going beyond the discussion of rules and rewards is what takes student discipline to the next level.  Teachers should share how they redirect without negatively impacting instruction.  The best teachers have strong disciplinary systems that empower kids to own their learning.  Collaboration is the only way that colleagues that learn those best practices.

Monitor and Adjust

Discipline changes likes the seasons.  Some days, discipline is going great, and then the full moon comes, and chaos ensues.  Behavior gets a little crazy from time to time, but the best collaborative teams see the changes coming and determine how best to adjust their collective response.  They develop new ways to set expectations for the behaviors that they want to see from all students, and they unify their response to the most troublesome behaviors affecting the majority of students.  A collaborative response to discipline is not just a team meeting to discuss behavior.  It is a collective responsibility to systematically teach all students the benefits of becoming self-disciplined individuals.  After all, discipline isn't about rules.  It's about being responsible and respectful members of society.

How does your team respond to discipline?

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