Discipline Key Ideas


I currently teach at the last stop for kids with behavioral problems along with drug abuse. Classroom management and discipline has to be consistent and talked about on a regular basis or the students that just arrived will not buy into the program. Your plan on discipline appears to be working. There are a few problems that I have noticed, such as:

1. It is hard to break old habits such as yelling and screaming.
2. Some students expect the yelling.
3. Some teachers won’t buy in on this style of discipline.
4. Some students don’t understand the mechanics of this style, especially when it works.
5. Teachers using different discipline plans tend to confuse the students.

I would like to use your plan as a template for classroom management and discipline. I understand the difference between the two. I feel that it is necessary to include both. I am looking forward to hearing from you.


When you refer to classroom management and discipline being consistent, you are talking about two different subjects. Classroom management (routines and procedures) should be practiced. Discipline, on the other hand, should be invisible.

Classroom management is the teachers’ responsibility.
Discipline is the students’ responsibility. See classroom management.

Superior teachers’ classroom management is so smooth that it isn’t even noticeable. The reason is that procedures have been taught, practiced, reinforced, and occasionally revisited. When these teachers have a discipline problem, they have established an approach where they rarely, if ever, use coercion with their students.

You mention that the system appears to be working but that there are a few problems, listed below as numbers 1 – 5.

1. It is hard to break old habits such as yelling and screaming.
Yes! That is why you need a procedure to redirect your habitual approach. See impulse management.
Think of your options: your questions, your tone of voice, and your kinesics (body language,e.g., pointing a finger vs. an open hand).

2. Some students expect the yelling.
So what? Are you going to allow them to direct your behavior? Does yelling enhance learning?

3. Some teachers won’t buy into this style of discipline.
They don’t because they think that discipline and punishment are synonymous. They use external manipulative or coercive approaches in attempts to change behavior. These are very unsophisticated and counterproductive approaches. Manipulation is not long-lasting, and coercion NEVER prompts a person to WANT do what you would like the person to do.

Coercive approaches are never joyful. They may be temporarily satisfying as with punishment—which may bring satisfaction to the punisher but has little long-lasting effect on the person being punished. A prime reason is that punishment is imposed. It is something done TO another person. This is in contrast to effective discipline which is done WITH or FOR the person. Nothing that is imposed has a long life because the person hasn’t any ownership in it.

4. Some students don’t understand the mechanics of this style, especially when it works.
They don’t need to. The only thing students need to know are the levels of social development and that they—consciously or not—always choose their level of behavior. No one chooses it for them.

5.  Teachers using different discipline plans tend to  confuse the students.
This is not a problem for students. Young people are very perceptive. They know that all teachers are different—as are parents.

Chances are that your students have been abused or alienated and feel victimized by society. If teachers want to successfully fulfill their mission at the school, they will stop using coercive approaches. They will start to empower students—rather than attempt to overpower them.