38 Chapters
Medium 9781934009437

Chapter 1: Introduction to Strategies

Allen Mendler Solution Tree Press ePub

1 Introduction to Strategies

Managing student behavior … is a delicate balance between maintaining social order and meeting the unique needs of each student.

—Richard Curwin and Allen Mendler
(Discipline With Dignity, 1988, 1999)

In the original Discipline With Dignity (Curwin & Mendler, 1988, 1999), a “three dimensional discipline” model was presented with three components: prevention, action, and resolution. We suggested numerous ways to prevent problems from occurring, to act when problems occur, and to resolve issues with more challenging students. In daily classroom life, two types of strategies make for effective discipline—prevention and intervention. Prevention involves understanding why students behave inappropriately and then doing things to prevent problems. After problems occur, prevention is also concerned with what can be done to keep the same thing from happening again. Intervention involves stopping misbehavior quickly so that little precious time is lost to instruction. The strategies offered here are with the rubric of prevention and intervention.

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Medium 9781934009253

Chapter 5: Choosing the Best Discipline Strategy

Richard Curwin Solution Tree Press ePub

Whether or not student change is for the good depends on whether we care deeply about students’ welfare.

Since there are many, many things we can do when discipline situations arise, our effectiveness largely depends on our ability to choose a response that is appropriate to the situation. For example, if a student is out of control, our primary goal is safety. We are less concerned about changing the child’s behavior and more concerned about protecting others from possible injury. By contrast, if a student is constantly doing silly, annoying things to get everyone’s attention, our primary goal is finding strategies that meet the student’s need for attention while reducing his or her interference with instructional time.

When students are disruptive while we are teaching, we have little time to rationally review our choices and assess our options. In addition, the often conflicting and confusing advice we have been given by “experts” who advocate everything from no structure (Kohn, 1996) to firm obedience (Canter & Canter, 1997; Dobson, 1996) have often led many educators to choose interventions that are based more on habit, desperation, or random change than on a rational school of thought. This chapter explores the best ways to evaluate strategies to ensure they are as effective as possible.

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Chapter 9: Conclusion: Worth the Struggle

Richard Curwin Solution Tree Press ePub

In the end, test scores do nothing to improve a student’s character. That is determined by how responsible he or she is.

Success with challenging students requires knowledgeable, caring adults who refuse to reject them even when they behave in offensive, obstinate, defiant, unmotivated, and hostile ways. We must make it difficult for students to throw away their education and their lives. We must find ways of seeing past their behavior so that who they are is more important than what they do. They need us to believe in them and give them hope so they can believe in themselves.

We are more successful when we thank challenging students for giving us an opportunity to learn and grow in our own quest to become great teachers. For while the best students will reinforce us to stay the same, because what we do appears to work, the most difficult students force us to see clearly what does not work and motivate us to find what does. As we meet these challenges, all students benefit, even the best, because we have made their learning environment safer. We have also made it easier for our students to learn, because the new skills we learn when we work with difficult students make us more attuned to the needs of all of our students and better able to teach them.

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Chapter 8: Frequently Asked Questions

Richard Curwin Solution Tree Press ePub

Remorse without resolution and reparation is inadequate.

While most educators ask us questions about discipline, they are looking for specific strategies and how-to-advice. Most of this book addresses important concepts relating to discipline and responsibility and includes many practical methods of prevention and intervention. Throughout this book, we have stressed our belief that there are no simple formulas for understanding the complexity of human behavior and there are no one-size-fits-all approaches to improving it. However, there are many specific strategies within the guidelines we have presented that will help educators solve some of the difficult issues we face. This chapter provides guidance on 12 of the questions we are asked most frequently by educators who work with difficult youth.

Q: My frustration as a special education teacher is that while my students make good progress in my resource classroom, many of them have difficulty adjusting to mainstream classes. Those teachers constantly complain about how irresponsible the kids are, and the kids are always complaining about how unfair the teachers are. Any suggestions?

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Medium 9781934009079

Chapter 1: What Motivates Misbehavior?

Allen Mendler Solution Tree Press ePub

“Sammy talks incessantly—nonstop! By the 50th reminder, I’m ready to stick a sock down his throat!”

“Out of 30 kids in my class, at least 10 are not following directions or are refusing to do things at any given time. As soon as I go to one corner of the room, a brushfire starts in another.”

“Tim is an 8-year-old who has tons of potential and shows bursts of insight. However, most of the time, he either uses abusive language, falls out of chairs, crawls around, leaves the room, won’t leave when asked, wrecks the restroom, or throws wet toilet paper.”

“Leandra has a short fuse. She becomes physically abusive very quickly and has bitten people, thrown objects, hit, scratched, and pushed people.”

“Joy complains about unfair treatment, makes noises, is unable to sit still, destroys property, steals, lies, and denies.”

Students have changed. Experiences such as these have become all too commonplace in our schools. Many teachers become exasperated with politically motivated exhortations for more academic excellence while increasingly feeling burdened with kids flipping out. They are disgusted with comparisons to Japanese and Korean schools, which seem always to conclude that kids are doing better there than they are here. Often feeling pressured to cover the material so that scores will rise, many teachers are eager for the technique to use so that disruption to learning will end. There is no such technique! And this is neither Japan nor Korea. Children with behavior problems act out to satisfy their basic human needs, which too often are neglected by fragmented communities and unstable families. Solving discipline problems means doing things with kids that satisfy these basic needs. It means that teachers have no choice but to accommodate the diversity of today’s youth. The alternative is business as usual, look for the quick fix, and burn out after a few years on the job. All kids need:

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