Classroom Discipline

Eleven Techniques for Better Classroom Discipline

Eleven Techniques for Better Classroom Discipline, A Primer on Classroom Discipline: Principles of Old and New As stated on the previous page, this article was written by Thomas McDaniel in the Phi Delta Kappan. This article has become a very popular manual for classroom management. The article mentioned eleven techniques to help achieve effective classroom management.

Focusing- Students should be focusing on you when you are teaching. Don't begin talking or teaching until you have the complete attention of everyone in the room. This means that you wait and not start until you have all students focused on you. Speak in a soft voice and students will sit still so that they can hear their teacher.

Direct Instruction- The teacher tells students what they will be doing before the lesson. Think of it as an outline of things to come. The teacher mentions that if they finish on time, there will be extra time at the end of the class for chatting or catching up on work from other classes. If you have to stand silently to wait for their attention, soon they will realize that this is cutting into free time.

- You monitor your students by walking around the room. Check their progress as they work. This is important because you can see if a student has started, if they are having problems, and stay on task. While you are doing this, don't interrupt the class. Speak to individual students in quiet tones if they need help. If students know you wander the room and could be behind them at any time, they are more inclined to behave.


The paddle is quickly becoming extinct across many schools.

Modeling- Quite simply, students can learn by simply observing behavior. We all know that students who use profanity in school more than likely have parents who use profanity in front of their children. The parents model this behavior and they imitate it. By modeling proper behavior, you teach them how to do it. If you want them to use quiet voices, use a quiet voice yourself.

Non-Verbal Cuing- Find a way to get your students' attention non-verbally. You can use the light switch, clapping a beat, using a bell, or other means. Students respond to non-verbal cues for attention faster than verbal cues because they are used to verbal communication. Something different gets more attention. Other verbal cues include facial expressions, body posture, hand signals, etc. Make sure students know what a non-verbal cue means.

Environmental Control- The atmosphere of a classroom says a lot about a teacher and determines the emotional feeling a student can get when entering the room. A cold, non-visual room may cause a student to think unconsciously, "Boy, this is going to be a boring teacher." Your visual learners will appreciate your use of color and visuals. Include a few personal items like family pictures or a display of your hobbies. The more they know you, the more likely they will want to please you.

Contrast that to a time-out area or an area you send a student to calm down. This area will be non-visual with no color or distractions.

Low-Profile Intervention
- The more a teacher reacts to a misbehavior, the more likely it is to escalate. This is especially true with students who have trouble with authority. For some students, negative attention is the only attention they are used to and negative attention is better than no attention. If you encounter misbehavior, speak in quiet tones and pull the student aside. Try to anticipate problems before they get out of hand. "Name-dropping" is also helpful. If you see a student getting "antsy," use their name in a sentence. Walk in close proximity to the student.


Assertive Discipline- This is explained in detail here.

Assertive I-Messsages- This is explained in detail by Thomas Gordon, the creator of the TET (Teacher Effectiveness Training) model. The focus is on you rather than the student. When you speak to a student off-task, say, "I want you to..." or "I expect..." When you tell him/her what you want, use it in the positive- what you want. Don't say, I want you to stop passing notes." Say instead, "I need you to pay attention so that you are able to understand the assignment. Usually when a teacher uses the negative form, the student gets defensive and denies any action. The incident will also probably escalate.

Positive Discipline- Last, but not least, describe behavior you WANT instead of what you DON'T want. Instead of saying, "Don't get out of your seat," say, "please remain seated." Instead of saying, "Don't chew gum in class," say, "Leave your gum at home." Use praise when you see students behave and use an award system. Even a simple "thumbs up" or a smile goes a long way.

Sample Student Contract

Name__________________________________________________ Date__________________________



Please copy the paragraphs written below once as soon as it is given to you. If you choose not to complete the contract now, plan to take it home and copy the paragraph and then get your guardian to sign it. Failure to return this contract will result in a phone call home and student will be placed on a Personal Discipline Contract.


I have been asked to copy this paragraph because I was being disrespectful or disruptive in my art class. I would rather cooperate and copy this paragraph than get an office referral. My teacher believes that I was disrupting class by choosing not to behave appropriately. Appropriate behavior means following the art room rules:


1. I will follow directions the first time they are given.

2. I will take care of ALL art materials (and school facility) -- use tools as demonstrated. Respect all property (including my own).

3. I will keep my hands, feet and objects to myself. I WILL NOT CHEW GUM.

4. I will be to class on time--AND PREPARED WITH PENCIL. I will stay in assigned seat or area unless given permission to do otherwise

5. I will work QUIETLY on projects and use time wisely (NO SOCIALIZING). I will respect others at all times.

6. I will ALWAYS clean up after myself.

I was not following all of those rules. To avoid completing more contracts in the future, I plan to make an effort to be more respectful to my teacher and my classmates. I will not disrupt art by misusing materials, being out of my seat, or talking when I am not supposed to. If I get a total of two contracts, I will have a phone call home from my teacher. If I have a total of three contracts, I will have an office referral. This contract is a reminder for me to make more of an effort to behave in art. I am responsible for completing my assignments without disturbing others and cleaning up my mess when I am finished working. From now on I will try harder to do what is expected of me. My classmates deserve to have a quality art education and I will do my part to insure that they get one. I will put forth more effort to make better use of my class time so my art instructor will have more time to help students with assignments. Disciplining students for their behavior takes up much of my instructor's time. I would rather receive praise –and spend my time making and learning about art than write more of these paragraphs.


This is my ______ offense.


Parent Signature:_________________________ Date:__________

See a behavioral worksheet here.

Discipline Directory

[ Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Page 4 | Page 5 | Page 6 | Page 7| Page 8 ]


Introduction to Direct Instruction - A proven instructional teaching method-in a format you can use. Direct Instruction is a system of teaching that focuses on controlling all the variables that affect the performance of students. From DI lessons appropriate for specific content areas to assessment techniques and school-wide strategies, this book provides a clear overview to this successful and timely instructional strategy.


Improving Student Behavior: The Success Diary Approach - a step-by-step guide to promoting your students’ personal development. This book introduces The Success Diary, a novel, easy-to-use method for involving students in their own behavior modification plans. Designed by an experienced school psychologist, this guide consolidates approaches from various schools of behavioral intervention and integrates them into a streamlined,


Positive Discipline: The Classic Guide to Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Problem-Solving Skills - For twenty-five years, Positive Discipline has been the gold standard reference for grown-ups working with children. Now Jane Nelsen, distinguished psychologist, educator, and mother of seven, has written a revised and expanded edition. The key to positive discipline is not punishment, she tells us, but mutual respect.


Discipline by Design- [Archive] A nice summary of these techniques. While you're there, click on the links in the left column for other great information on discipline.