24 September, 2012

Contemplating Discipline Systems

A few of the classes at my school - mine included - have adopted a clip chart to use to try maintain discipline. They are modelled after the one used by Teacher Squeaks (http://teachersqueaks.blogspot.com/), though we have made some slight modifications:

Brief overview:
All students have their names written on pegs and placed on "Ready to Learn". When they are being good, paying attention and supporting their fellow students we move their pegs up. When they are being disruptive and uncooperative, we move their pegs down. Often I will call up a student and make her/him move her/his own peg down. This reinforces the idea that s/he's done something wrong and (as I teach second language students) it gives me a moment alone with the student to ask her/him if s/he knows why s/he's in trouble - sometimes there are communication problems, rather than students being deliberately naughty.

Whilst Teacher Squeak's version had only two levels below Ready to Learn, we've made three. The point of this is to encourage students to realise when they're making mistakes, as well as giving them time to recover from it. "Uh-Oh" is there to let them know they're doing the wrong thing, and "Think About It" literally means that. If they remain on that level at the end of a lesson then they are not allowed to enjoy the break between lessons. Instead they have to sit with their heads on their desks and think about their behaviour. "Parent Contact" is reserved for those students who just don't care. For students who remain on this level for a day or two (or who are there at the end of the week) I write in their communication books which go home to their parents. Unless there is a major problem with the child, I just write about how the student is doing, where they can improve and advice for the parents in encouraging her/him to focus more.

This all said and done, I still feel that something isn't entirely right with the methods of discipline I, and many other teachers, use. I've been reading a lot about positive reinforcement lately, and I find that most of the reinforcement used at schools (this clip chart, for example) have a combination of positive and negative reinforcement. Many students don't seem to care when they are in trouble and, if they get used to it, expect to be in trouble and so have little motivation to try harder. What students (indeed, children in general) hate is being left out. I've been contemplating a system where good students are rewarded, while bad students just get nothing, but get to see what the good students are enjoying. That kind of exclusion makes children want to be involved, as the rewards aren't based upon marks or grades (which not all can achieve) but upon behaviour, discipline and the will to try. To properly implement a system like that requires the knowledge of what it is that the children want and then selling it to them, with them paying for it in the way they act. I'll get back to you on this, once I find out what it is that drives my students (besides the obvious of sweets, cake and less homework).

I hope to be able to tie my new system into the growing realm of gamification - the concept of gamifying education. It's a brilliant notion and here's a link to one of the best people to have it explained to you by:


1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad that you found my clip chart useful! If you check out my blog, I've put up another version of the clip chart, my most recent one.

    Extra Credits really are the best minds in gaming. I haven't had a chance to use gamification in a classroom yet, but fully believe that it can work with even young children. It's just a positive reward system, which many schools already use (stickers/stars), in a more structured form.