A teacher who practices the Discipline Without Stress methodology recently told me about an interaction in her classroom and wondered how she could improve. Here’s what happened.
She explained that she has a few children in her class who persist in behaving at Level B, even after she has “checked for understanding” and has proceeded with “guided choices.” On the day we spoke, she said that she had told one of her students who hit another child, “I want you to stay in our classroom, but if you act on Level B again, you are telling me that you want to keep on making your own rules for the class.” The child’s behavior did not improve, so she was struggling with what to do next.
I told her that next time the child acts up, she needs to ASK the student if he would like to stay in the classroom. Then she needs to ASK him on what level he would need to behave to remain in the class.
Once the child answers (and this child will know that the correct answer is to behave at level C or D), she should follow this up by ASKING him what he will do when he gets the same impulse again. Elicit a PROCEDURE he can follow when the same impulse occurs again (it’s okay to help the child with this step). The key is that the procedure needs to be simple. For example, he can stand and sit, rub his ear, frown and smile, or tap his toe five times—anything he can remember to do.
Then, ask him to role play by having him practice the procedure with you.
Finally, ask him to periodically think about and practice the procedure again so that when the impulse arises he will be in control, rather than being a victim of his impulses.
If he has difficulty, keep on asking him if he want to continue to be a victim.
Notice how everything outlined focuses on asking, not telling. Asking reflective questions empower students because they imply that the person is capable. And because they are noncoercive, the person is not defensive, which results in better choice-making.
One of the keys to success in this classroom discipline approach is that the responsibility is placed on the student, where it belongs.