38 Chapters
Medium 9781934009253

Chapter 6: Seven Goals for Successful Discipline

Richard Curwin Solution Tree Press ePub

The more suffering caused by disciplining, the more likely hatred and alienation will result and the less likely students will make good choices on their own.

We have developed seven proven goals to help educators identify or create strategies of prevention that are likely to be effective with challenging students. Sometimes the most effective discipline strategies are those that help to prevent problems so that misbehavior is unlikely to occur. Effective discipline strategies of prevention should do the following:

1.  Create a caring classroom.

2.  Teach self-control.

3.  Promote concern for others.

4.  Establish clearly defined limits.

5.  Emphasize responsibility rather than obedience.

6.  Teach conflict-resolution skills.

7.  Combine and network with others.

Students who challenge our authority need us to be tougher at not giving up on them than they are at pushing our buttons and making us angry. They need to know that we welcome them, warts and all! However, because they are disruptive, only the most masochistic and dedicated educators actually look forward to their presence. It takes much wisdom, optimism, and a creative spirit to continue welcoming disruptive students. We recall a teacher who told Bob, a chronically disruptive student: “Bob, since I haven’t yet found a way to help you speak respectfully, I have no doubt that God put you in my classroom to help me become a better teacher. Maybe he’s testing both of us to find a way to get along.”

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Medium 9781934009253

Chapter 7: Special Discipline Problems

Richard Curwin Solution Tree Press ePub

Making mistakes is not failing; not learning from them is.

While educators face many discipline challenges, certain specific problems warrant our special attention. Although the following three problems occur frequently, little information is available on how to handle them:

1.  Lack of motivation and its relationship to discipline

2.  Students who have trouble paying attention and the classroom problems that result

3.  The growth and influence of gangs in our schools

Students who are hard to motivate are often hard to discipline. Although it is difficult to assess which is the cause of which, the connection is clear. And the problem is growing. Our seminars are increasingly attended by educators who question what to do with students who are not prepared, will not work, and do not care. Those who are both hard to motivate and to control often make us wonder why we should bother with them at all when there are so many others who do care and do want to learn.

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Medium 9781934009079

Chapter 3: The Process of Change

Allen Mendler Solution Tree Press ePub

In most instances, the problem of discipline is conceptualized as a student who does something wrong in the classroom or some other place at school. An explicit or implicit rule has been broken, and the student has interfered with the teaching and learning process. Action is viewed as necessary so that order can be restored. In most cases, the actions taken are done to or with the student with the expectation that the student will change his or her behavior so that it is more appropriate. Detention, suspension, time-out, reminders, warnings, and action plans are some of these methods. All share in common the belief that it is the student who must change in order for things to get better. The expectation that it is the student who must change is referred to as “inside-out” change. All methods that teach responsibility by furthering one’s internal locus of control are inside-out methods. A student’s plan represents what he or she will do differently to avoid future difficulty. The onus of responsibility for change rests squarely and exclusively with the student.

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Medium 9781934009079

Chapter 7: Working With Parents

Allen Mendler Solution Tree Press ePub

Parents can be partners in providing an effective program of discipline in the schools. Just as we need to know how best to relate to contemporary youth, our efforts must also be directed at reaching the many parents who are at risk of dropping out of their kids’ school lives.

Let us first explore the leading issues in the lives of parents that make for tenuous parent-school partnerships.

Many families are struggling for survival. Their attention is focused on living day-to-day and making ends meet. The growing homeless population and those who live below poverty level suggest that too many parents and children must focus their energies on safety, security, and survival as priorities over reading, writing, and arithmetic. Without sensitivity to the pain and hopelessness felt by parents, there is no way to connect with them at school. At an abstract level, almost all parents want their children to succeed at school because they know that school success is a way out of hopelessness. Unfortunately, making that desire a priority and accessing the energy needed to support children’s academic efforts take a back seat to the more prominent issues of survival.

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Chapter 2: Change Starts Within

Richard Curwin Solution Tree Press ePub

We cannot expect more of our students than we expect of ourselves. We must act the way we expect our students to behave.

If we want to work more effectively with difficult students, we must be willing to change ourselves. Although we rarely appreciate our most difficult students because of the time they take and the frustration they cause, their presence can lead to professional growth if we learn from the obstacles they throw in our way. Nothing new has been invented by people who are satisfied with the status quo. Dissatisfaction and tension caused by misbehavior can lead us to invent new approaches that could benefit all of our students. In his book, Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, Carlson (1997) suggests that instead of asking, “Why is he doing this to me?” when someone does something you do not like, ask “What is he trying to teach me?”

Difficult students do not always generate feelings of opportunity. They are frustrating and time-consuming and interfere with our efforts to teach. Even worse, they make us confront our own difficulty in changing ourselves. As we understand our struggle to change ourselves and find better ways to overcome our obstacles, we can better appreciate the difficulties our students face when they try to change. This understanding and appreciation will help us help our students.

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