Discipline

Discipline is more than keeping a group of children or young people quiet while being talked to. Preserving good behavior is certainly one aspect to discipline, for learning it in an atmosphere of confusion is difficult. Children have to learn to conform to the rules of behavior needed in a classroom. Teachers have the right to ask for a quiet class, keep the students in their seats, and have the right to discipline them if they do not cooperate. When a teacher expresses his or her thoughts, feelings, and beliefs in direct, honest, and appropriate ways that do not violate the right of others, and when the message does not humiliate, degrade, or dominate the one being talked to, he or she is using Assertive Discipline. In order for a teacher to maintain control of his or her class they must use Assertive Discipline. In order for a teacher to have his or her needs met, they can influence the behavior of the children. Without influence a teacher is "powerless" and will become "burned out." (Canter, 2) There is no simple answer to why this happens. A number of complex factors have combined to create an environment in which teachers are having trouble in getting personal and professional needs met. Until the past decade, the teacher was looked at as the main person in the classroom by students and parents. The teacher, simply because of their role status, had respect and authority. Thus, the teacher was a "powerful" figure in the eyes of the students and could easily influence the student's behavior, often with just a look, smile, or a threat.(Canter,3) All of that is now changed. Today, a teacher has to earn the respect of both the students and their parents. A teacher's basic techniques of influence, or discipline, is no longer as effective as getting the desired results. The discipline approaches of the 1950's and 1960's do not work with the students of the 1990's. In addition, the teacher cannot rely on the strong support of the parents anymore. Many parents are openly questioning, the education that their children are receiving, and do not feel they want to support the needs of their child's teachers. Teachers cannot get their needs met in a classroom unless they have an effective method of discipline in which they thoroughly understand and comfortable utilize. An assertive teacher is: "One who clearly and firmly communicates his or her wants and needs to his or her students, and is prepared to reinforce their words with appropriate actions." (Canter,9) When a teacher is assertive, and clearly and firmly communicates their wants and feelings to a child, they send a clear message. This message simply states: "I mean what I say and say what I mean."(Collins, 155) Lee Canter, a child guidance specialist, has found that while most teachers make lesson plans as a routine matter, very few make discipline plans. Planning is essential to teaching well. Lesson planning is second nature to teachers. Lesson plans are part of a professional routine, and are done almost automatically when the need arises. However, planning for discipline is an entirely different story. The vast majority of teachers have learned or have been exposed to the steps involved in planning discipline programs, especially those to be used specifically with disruptive students. Because of teachers' frustrations, all we often hear is their complaining about how difficult the students really are. Such complaining may help to relieve the strain of dealing with difficult students, but it in no way helps to solve the problem. Planning your discipline efforts, and utilizing assertive principles, are as essential to teaching as a lesson plan. (Charles,128) Discipline planning will structure and guide classroom management efforts the same as lesson planning for academic efforts. Discipline plans are important and helpful to all teachers. Charles, urges to make discipline plans according to the following steps: 1) Identify any existing or potential discipline problems. 2) Specify the behaviors you want the students to eliminate or engage in. 3) Decide on negative and positive consequences appropriate to the student and situation. 4) Decide how to execute the negative and positive consequences.(Charles, 129) Discipline planning is the systematic applications of the assertive principles the teacher exhibits. It involves focusing your attention on any