Positive Discipline for Inattentive Students

Positive Discipline for Inattentive Students

No matter what subject you teach, you can practice positive discipline for inattentive students.

Inattentive students are certainly a challenge, but they need not derail your lesson plan. After all, at some point all students will ignore a lesson going on in class. Perhaps they are preoccupied with a personal challenge. Maybe they are tired. Or perhaps the information simply doesn’t interest them. Losing a student’s attention once in a while is normal. However, sometimes certain students ignore the lesson every day. Rather than listen to the teacher, they routinely do other things, such as homework for another class. This is when positive discipline is needed.

Here is a question a teacher wrote me recently: “I have a student in my high school class who continues to do her Latin homework in my English class. Her Latin class follows mine. Any suggestion would be appreciated.”

Here is my reply:

1. Focus on positive discipline by having a conversation with this student. Share the idea that you are teaching because you enjoy having young people learn, and that when a student is doing something else in your class, she is depriving herself of learning what you are teaching and ALSO depriving you of your joy of teaching.

2. Ask her how she would feel if she were the teacher and you were the student doing what she is doing in HER class. Then ELICIT from her a PROCEDURE to help her to refrain her impulse in the future.

3. Review for her that she is acting on Level B, making her own standards, and that a person on this level only follows a greater authority. Let her know that behavior on this level means that she has given you the authority to make a decision for her. Inform her that your decision will be for her to go to her Latin teacher’s classroom and complete her Latin homework in that teacher’s classroom—not in yours.



Notice the approach. You have given her the opportunity to see the situation from your standpoint. You have given HER THE OPPORTUNITY to resolve her acting on an unacceptable level (Level B – where authority, but without punishment, is necessary). You would do so—but have also given her the opportunity to be on a more acceptable level (C or D).

What do you think of this approach to positive discipline? Please share your thoughts on the Without Stress Facebook page.