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Managing disciplinary issues may be one of the most challenging aspects of teaching. This lesson describes discipline concerns teachers face in the classroom and identifies factors that contribute to them.

Discipline and Classroom Management

Martin is a teacher who knows how challenging classroom management can be. His first few years of teaching were rough; he made many mistakes as a disciplinarian, including classic mistakes like trying to be his students’ friend and then coming down too harshly when they overstepped the murky boundaries. Every day felt like a battle, and it left him exhausted.

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Things turned around when Martin stepped back and took a close look the types of misbehavior he was seeing, and then investigating why.One of the most important components of effective teaching is classroom management. Classroom management is the action teachers take to keep their classroom running smoothly throughout the year, enabling their students to succeed.

Things like organizing the environment and setting, communicating clear expectations, and providing instruction that keeps students attentive and focused are all methods of classroom management.

Types of Student Disciplinary Problems

Like most teachers, Martin can easily identify disciplinary problems. Students act out in a variety of ways, impacting their own ability to learn as well as those around them. Some of the types of disciplinary problems that are most common are:

  • Disrespect – students speak and act in a disrespectful way to adults and peers
  • Defiance – students openly refuse to listen to adults or follow directions
  • Bullying – students consistently intimidate others, often to make themselves feel better
  • Aggression – students become physically or verbally violent

These high-level disciplinary actions need to be addressed. Martin learned that student misbehavior on this scale isn’t always a result of poor management, but instead stem from reasons outside the classroom.

Students’ Choices

Martin started observing his students and attempting to find causes for their poor choices. Once he stopped to consider the reasons behind his student’s behavior, he was able to objectively work toward finding solutions and helping his students make better choices in school.

Many different things impact a student’s behavioral choices, most of them out of the student’s control. Things like a poor home life, interactions with peers, racial and cultural pressure, and illegal behavior outside of school, all filters into the classroom.Martin learned, however, that while he could use classroom management techniques to structure actions inside his classroom, he wasn’t always able to change a student’s life outside the school.

Impact of Home Life

One of the first things Martin noticed was that much of the student misbehavior was rooted in a dysfunctional home life, one that wasn’t operating in healthy ways. He found things like economic instability, parental disharmony, changes in family routine and relationships, and parental views on education and discipline, which all impacted a student’s ability to make good choices.

When a student’s family struggles with poverty, he or she is affected in many ways. The stress that results from lack of money, inconsistent employment, and overall financial instability, can cause students to feel overwhelmed at school. Martin has several students each year with changing family relationships due to divorce, death, or separation. These unstable times are confusing for students and often result in behavioral issues.

Finally, some families have a negative view concerning education and share their thoughts openly with students. These students then bring preconceived ideas to school that interfere with their ability to succeed.

Peer Issues

Martin also noticed that students often made poor choices in response to the actions of their peers. Students often want to fit in and succumb to peer-pressure, following the actions of others, even if they don’t believe in the action or know it is wrong. Some well-behaved and successful students may suddenly pick up disrespectful actions to be better liked and accepted by other students.

For example, Michael, a new student, started off the year on the right foot with good grades and behavior choices. By winter, though, Martin noticed that Michael’s grades were slipping and he was talking back more often. Eventually Michael’s new ‘friends’ talked him into bullying another student, and he got into a fight.Also, when students are bullied by their peers they often then cause disciplinary issues in the classroom. Some students who bully are being abused at home or by others, and bring their anger and aggression to school.

Racial and Cultural Pressure

Martin has students from many different cultures and races. Each of these families has its own unique lifestyle choices that impact their attitude toward education and their definition of appropriate behavioral choices.

Martin knows some students’ families allow them to speak openly to adults at home, which is often thought of as disrespectful in classrooms. Some families and cultures have beliefs about eye contact or a child’s role in the community that is different from classroom norms. This can be confusing and challenging to students and teachers.

Illegal Behavior

Finally, Martin found that some students were involved in illegal behaviors that impacted their choices in school. Some students were drug users or dealers, participated in robberies, or were involved in gang activities.

Martin was surprised to learn that even young students can become involved in illegal behaviors that led to disciplinary problems in his classroom.

Lesson Summary

There are many types of disciplinary problems in the classroom, things like bullying, disrespect, aggression, and defiance. Though some classroom management issues result from teachers’ lack of a plan, many come from issues students bring with them into the classroom. Issues such as a poor home life, interactions with peers, racial and cultural pressure, and illegal behavior outside of school, can all lead to disciplinary problems in the classroom.

Disciplinary Problem Facts

There are various types of disciplinary problems.
  • Disciplinary problems: When students act out in a variety of ways, impacting those around them and their ability to learn.
  • Disrespect, defiance, bullying, and aggression are the most common disciplinary problems.
  • A dysfunctional home life can impact student behavior.
  • Peer pressure can negatively impact a student’s behavior.
  • For some students, cultural and racial pressure can be a challenge.
  • Illegal behavior outside of school can play a role in a student’s classroom behavior.

Learning Outcomes

As you complete the lesson, you should be able to reach these goals:

  • Describe disciplinary problems
  • Consider the most common disciplinary problems
  • Discuss the factors that influence how a student may behave at school

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