The more I use the Discipline without Stress approach, the more I appreciate that Step One of Dr. Marshall’s Teaching Model is key to the whole plan.
We’ve just started a series of swimming lessons at our local Community Center for all the primary students in our school. This year I decided to be more proactive than in previous years. Instead of just talking for a couple of minutes–just prior to getting on the bus on the first day–about what behavior is expected at the swimming pool, I decided to plan for a time to discuss it the day before.
As soon as I really started thinking to myself in an organized way about what procedures we would need at the swimming pool, I realized that there were actually 4 sets of procedures to talk about! Going swimming with 21 little kids is no mean feat!
In preparation, on chart paper I wrote:
1. On the bus?
2. At the pool?
3. In the change room?
4. In the Water Safety lesson?
As part of our K/1 calendar time on Monday, I started by having the class look at our Discipline without Stress Hierarchy. We talked about how the ultimate goal for a person is to be self-disciplined by operating on Level D. In other words, the goal is looking after yourself.
We talked about how we could benefit from this type of operation on our swimming trips. In addition to feeling good about our abilities to act capably and independently, we would also naturally be building positive relationships with many people–the swimming instructors, the parent helpers, the bus driver, members of the public also using the swimming pool etc. These people would certainly enjoy being with us if we were operating on the highest level.
Then I asked the kids to give me suggestions for each of the above categories and I wrote a few pertinent words in each. (I worked in a few spelling lessons too as I recorded their ideas!) After we finished, I went back to each category and put large stars beside the most critical ideas.
On the bus?
- fairly quiet
- stay in seat
- sit back
- don’t forget swim gear
At the pool?
- listen to the swimming instructor
- be polite
- try to learn
In the change rooms?
- change quickly
- keep belongings in one place
- be respectful (of senior citizens in change room)
- remember all your gear
- come out and line up quietly
In the Water Safety lesson?
- listen to safety teacher
- hand up to speak
Although my teaching partner and I have quite a challenging class this year, on Tuesday when we went swimming, all the students were extremely well behaved. Several parents at different times laughingly mentioned that their kids came home on Monday and seriously told them all about what’s expected during each part of a swimming trip––so I know that our 15 minute discussion and chart made an impression on them!
It was a pretty positive start, to what in the past has sometimes been a stressful activity.