Punishment V. Discipline

We have talked about the difference between punishment and instructional discipline before. The following is a guest post by Amy Baker:

"Parents and teachers both face the reality of trying to encourage the best from the children they are responsible for. Parents have an advantage simply because they know their child so well and, let's face it, not even the Duggars face 20+ children each morning. As a teacher, your situation is more challenging. How do you maintain a positive, results-focused environment while maintaining order among a large group of kids who are roughly the same age yet are all in widely ranging developmental stages?

One helpful concept is to focus on the difference between punishment and discipline. Punishment can be described as a penalty paid for poor behavior. The focus is on past behavior and the goal is to make the wrong-doer acutely aware that he has done wrong. Discipline, on the other hand, is training that corrects or strengthens character. If you focus on discipline, you are focusing on what a child can learn to do correctly in the future rather than dwelling on the past.

A classroom is never going to work if you try to run it like a democracy. However, there is much to be said for having your class help set some of the class rules. While you are working on the rules, have a discussion about the difference between punishment and discipline. Talk about the negative connotations/feelings that result from punishment. In contrast, discuss how discipline and logical consequences can help all of you grow and learn and thrive. Talk about what your class thinks a logical consequence might be in different scenarios.

The advantage of using discipline instead of punishment on a daily basis is that your class will trust you to be in control of yourself and the room and compassionate towards them. If you approach every difficulty with punishment, it can end up making you look as if you are desperate to maintain order or, worse, as if you are constantly angry. Punishment can easily backfire on you. Children who need to be corrected on a regular basis may, if routinely punished, take your punishments as a personal challenge. Their defiance can be contagious.

Make time every day to catch your students doing something right – and make sure they know you saw them! Constantly evaluate your methods of discipline to see what is working and with which kids the method is working. If something isn't working – get rid of it. Brainstorm with other teachers and parents you admire. You will never hit on a system that works 100%, but with a constant focus on the future, you will see results."

A job well done!

A job well done!

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