I have a problem. My entire school district has been requested to update our classroom discipline plans for review by the new superintendent before the end of August. My principal knows how I feel about the punitive discipline approach used across our district. Last year he allowed me leeway––I didn’t have to post rules, consequences, rewards. However, with this latest pressure, he told me that I will have to comply with the new superintendent’s wishes. I am wondering if there’s any way of making DWS “look” like a conventional discipline plan without “being” a conventional plan!
Well, it’s tough to take two opposite approaches and make one look like the other, BUT––survival seems key in a case like yours! Maybe this might work:
1. Post classroom expectations or standards, instead of rules.
In this article, Dr. Marshall describes how standards differ from rules. He explains:
“Standards engender student empowerment. They promote an esprit de corps in the classroom, similar to what occurs with any team. Standards serve as expectations, and expectations are responsibility lifting. They tap into internal motivation and foster commitment, rather than compliance.”
He gives two examples of classroom standards that could be posted:
• Do my work
• Have materials
• Be where I belong
• Control myself
• Follow directions
• Speak considerately
• Be prompt
• Bring materials
• Listen for instructions
• Honor self and others
• Accept ownership of my choices
2. Describe how students are held accountable for consequences in your room, with a statement such as the following:
Consequences will be elicited from students as necessary, and directly tied to each particular situation.
3. Describe the rewards your students will reap from choosing to be motivated internally:
Students will be encouraged to reflect on the satisfying inner rewards that accompany responsible and high level behavior. Encouragement and acknowledgement will be given every day!