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School discipline can be valuable when managing students with behavioral issues or just children needing extra guidance.

No teacher likes undertaking discipline issues in schools– and even fewer enjoy speaking to parents about negative behavior or handing out consequences to students still learning how to cope in an increasingly rules-led world.

But despite all those doubts, being able to handle discipline is a must to be an effective teacher. You cannot find this knowledge in your employee handbook; instead, personal learning and development are required to offer culturally aware and thoughtful approaches to discipline. If you’re struggling to strike the right balance in managing control with your students, this article might be an excellent place to start.

Read on to find out more about a few strategies you can utilize in the classroom to provide fair, constructive, and effective discipline.

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Keep an eye out for bias

As a teacher, bias can be a difficult word to hear. We like to think we’re fair to all our students and offer discipline in equal measure to all students that need it. But it pays to step back and look at the bigger picture of discipline in your school. These biases may include any of the following:

  • Gender
  • Race
  • Class

Being able to identify these implicit biases when it comes to student discipline can help us become better educators. By ensuring we stay aware of prejudice– even when it’s unconscious or not ill-intended– we can provide a safer and fairer environment for students and open conversations about privilege and similar issues. With black students in many schools experiencing bias in school discipline, maintaining equality in education has never been more critical.

Give consistency in your discipline

A transparent, easy-to-follow, and predictable discipline system can be just as valuable for students as it is for teachers. If your school utilizes restorative justice or peers usually hear student infractions, altering these processes for everyone or using them consistently for specifically-detailed incidents is vital. For schools that don’t use such formal systems, it’s down to individual teachers or the teaching body to provide consistent and appropriate consequences that are acceptable based on the actual infraction. A lack of consistency can not only suggest bias but also result in difficulty in gaining respect from your students over time.

Don’t remove your students’ dignity

Dignity and pride are both intensely personal and private things. With students and children, maintaining that feeling of safety and security can avoid incidents or further concerns. A student sent to the principal’s office is likely already feeling defensive, scared, or anxious; these are all completely natural reactions to their situation. By using value-free language, you can avoid adding to that emotion and keep the dignity of your students intact. Instead, stay factual instead of using emotional weight to your statements to avoid causing harm to your students in the long run.

Anticipate and work through feelings

Many negative emotions can be attached to the disciplinary process. Whether it’s the fear and defensiveness of the student or the anger and feeling of disappointment of the teacher, getting emotionally invested can be all too easy. Instead, take a step back and acknowledge the feelings that students are experiencing instead of dismissing them. This can not only help to clear the air but also normalize the fact that making a mistake isn’t the end of the world– while some actions deserve discipline, it doesn’t make that child a ‘bad kid’ permanently, an emotion that can all too often be the result of continued discipline where emotions aren’t anticipated or addressed.

Re-establish relationships

Once consequences have been handed out and the disciplinary process is complete, any ill will resulting from a disciplinary situation must be resolved. For the good of both the teacher and student, taking the time to reflect and establish a form re-entry process can help make the process more comfortable. Punishment isn’t intended to last forever, and for students, it should be made clear that when their discipline is complete, they can reconnect in relationships that may have been strained. As a teacher and authority figure in that student’s life, ensuring you treat them fairly is vital for this process. Make an effort to return to normalcy, and your students will soon follow.

Do you utilize formal discipline measures in your school? Have you considered implementing different forms of consequences for your students that are outside the ordinary?