Friday, August 2, 2013

CONFIRMATION: Let's Talk Discipline

I was giving a presentation to a group of pastors and one asked, "My kids just don't behave while I'm listening to memory work. What can I do about that?" The response to this and many behavior problems is really quite simple. Give them something to do. Whenever you give middle school kids unstructured time they will fill it but let's be honest, they're not going to use it wisely. Give them something to do and expect it to be done by the time you've gotten through everyone. Never disrupt the whole class for one behavior challenged student. Any discipline required by you should only take a moment or two.

In my graduate paper, Confirmation: A View from a Professional Educator I have a section on classroom management. If you would be interested in reading it, please let me know. I've included a few brief suggestions below.

Classroom management suggestions:

  • Set expectations and keep them high. Don't EVER let them get away with disrespectful behavior. Ask them to step outside for a moment and call them on it, then tell them you'll give them a few minutes to pull themselves together and they can join the class when they can manage.
  • Be consistent. Have the same expectations and show them consistently to all students.
  • Keep them moving. Plan your class time. It keeps you from wasting what little valuable time you get with them and it keeps them out of trouble.
  • Transition after 15 minutes. The attention span of a middle school student is 10-12 minutes. You can tell when kids get bored and have stopped paying attention and it does neither you nor them any good to keep going down the same path when that happens.
  • Only get parents involved if the behavior continues to be a problem. You do not want to send the message that you can't handle these simple problems. Let the kids and parents know you'll be contacting them if this happens and be sure to let them know that s/he is missing valuable information and may not be confirmed. You don't have to confirm them! 
  • Students who are mean or disrespectful to other students should be expected to make it right.
  • Pull them out of class and ask them why they were asked to leave. Wait for an answer and if they don't give one tell them to think about it and you'll come back in a few minutes. They need to be able to name their inappropriate behavior.
  • Give a squirrely student a couple of warnings but no more than three and after that they may be required to write a couple (2) paragraphs of why they should be allowed to stay in class when they can't behave and/or what their plan is to do better. Do NOT stoop to why God wouldn't like their behavior. 
  • HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE. If they know you won't do anything they won't stop. Why should they?
Most importantly I want you all to know that it is YOUR JOB to hold them accountable. They need it and what you're teaching them is the most important thing they're learning in their lives at that moment. If you act like that is true they will believe it. If you don't, they will believe that too and it will show in both their work and their behavior. HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE!  

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