In his seminar on classroom management, behavioral researcher and professor, Glenn Latham tells the story of a teacher who was simply particularly abusive to her students. Not merely was she heavy handed in her classroom, her discipline was often indiscriminate and patently unfair. To state that the students didn’t like or respect her will be an understatement, as was evident one weekend if they burned her classroom to the ground.
However, we would be wise not to come to in conclusion that discipline shouldn’t play a significant role in student behavior at school. What is essential is that they be treated with respect, even though they’re not doing what they know they will and that discipline, when it is necessary is applied appropriately. Tragic as it may be, this is not always the case in today’s schools.
As a teacher, there’s nothing more exciting than entering a well organized and disciplined classroom and few things less attractive than one that will not possess those qualities, but creating this kind of environment requires great planning and discipline on the the main teacher and administrators. Harry Wong makes this clear in his book, The First Days of School, as he tells us that success in the classroom is usually won or lost in the first short while, perhaps even the first couple of seconds, of the school year what is a course in miracles. Good teachers, he tells us, spend a lot of time get yourself ready for the fist few days of school, and then spend the first fourteen days developing and rehearsing procedures that may create the classroom environment to last through the year.
In his book, Teach Like a Champion, Doug Lemov tells of a teacher who spends the first hour of the first day of school teaching students to distribute papers. “We did that in 33 seconds,” he tells them, “let’s see when we can’t get it under thirty seconds this time.” Lemov goes on to indicate that such rehearsals aren’t a waste of time and estimates this teacher saves a long time within the span of the season by having this procedure in place.
However, this is not pretty much acquiring proficiency, it’s about developing a warm nurturing environment where students can learn and thrive. Systems and procedures need to be in position and well practiced to ensure that students know what’s required of them along with what the expected outcomes is going to be for his or her behavior. The net effect is a huge lowering of stress levels for the students and the teachers, and with less stress, teachers are free to interact and instruct at a very high level.
So how can we prevent vandalism and teach kids respect? We do it by first demonstrating ourselves the behaviors we should instill in our students, by treating them with respect even whenever we don’t think they deserve it, and by putting systems into place that may ensure growth. Kids for the reason that sort of environment are highly unlikely to want to destroy property and, perhaps even more to the point, are far more likely to make a significant contribution to the planet in the future.