Here’s what the definition of Discipline is according to merriam-webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com)
2obsolete : instruction
3: a field of study
4: training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character
5 a: control gained by enforcing obedience or order b: orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior c: self-control
6: a rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity
Punishment? Training? Control?
These are all words which we shouldn’t be using when we talk about helping kids to learn in the classroom. Everyone in the classroom needs to be caring, supportive and encouraging. The question is ‘How?’.
Teachers train to be teachers. Part of that training always includes sessions on “Classroom control” or “Classroom Discipline”. They prepare you by giving you talks on ‘how to control a difficult class’ or ‘dealing with class room misbehaviour’. From my experience, what’s important is to make expectations for the classroom clear. Such as arriving on time, having correct equipment, being respectful, being supportive, giving others time to speak etc. I mentioned in the last paragraph that everyone in the classroom needs to be caring, supportive and encouraging. This includes the students and the teachers.
The clip below shows an education training film for teachers made in 1947. It shows what they consider a bad lesson and then contrasts it with what they consider a good lesson. The good lesson example contains excellent advice for teachers which of course still apply today. We might sometimes describe some teaching styles as ‘old school’ or ‘old fashioned’ but this clip shows that good teaching has been around for a long time.
If kids see that you care, have a little humour, are consistent with behaviour expectations for all, relate learning to the real world in an interesting way and are ‘on their side’ ,then there is a good chance some excellent learning will go on in the classroom.
Dennis Littky in his book “The Big Picture – Education is Everyone’s Business” Published by ASCD says:
“We all know that in classes that kids enjoy, there are fewer or no behaviour problems. And we know that kids enjoy a class when they’re involved. If they’re doing a project on something they’re interested in, something thats real and has real world consequences, then they don’t tend to pass notes or ask to go to the bathroom 10 times”
Have a look at this clip. It’s about 14 minutes long.