Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Rethinking Discipline

Of all the responsibilities I manage as a school leader, student discipline is one of the most challenging, but perhaps not for the reasons you might think. I've worked in a variety of schools and experienced some downright scary behavior incidents, but I have always felt good about the colleagues and families in my communities, and our ability to collaborate to implement processes and develop plans to minimize inappropriate behavior and promote positive behavior.
The difficulty comes in balancing what I have been taught about student discipline, what I know about human behavior, and what it takes to create systems in schools. This article highlights the research and methods of Dr. Ross Greene. As far as I can tell (until I read his books), his basic premise is that the focus of behavior management should be communication with the student to figure out the root cause of the inappropriate behavior and develop strategies to address the need(s). I imagine that many parents and educators agree, as do I. Once we put hundreds of young people, their needs, and their rights all together in one building, providing the time, personnel, patience (of others' loved ones) to consistently respond as Dr. Greene recommends becomes complicated.
We have a wonderful (and soon, expanding) student services team that provides students with opportunities to share the causes of their behaviors, and supports them in developing coping strategies. We also have codes that describe citizenship in our classrooms, our school, and in our district.  The codes include consequences, which those who abide by the code often want to see implemented for those who don't.
This tension between the needs and rights of the one who is still learning to model citizenship and the needs and rights of the many provides students, parents, and educators great opportunities for collaboration, problem-solving, and growth. I'm fortunate to have the support of a great PLN (that includes you) to help me continue to reflect upon and refine my practices.

Note: Please don't expect (or maybe dread) daily posting. I just wanted to reflect on the article after reading.

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