Schools need to be a safe learning environment in which students can flourish. While teachers focus on building meaningful relationships with students, they work hard at maintaining these relationships and are also expected to handle classroom discipline problems. When phone calls, letters, or messages sent home requesting to meet with parents don’t work, students then wind up taking a trip to the office.
Without question, consistent classroom management plans should be established. They should work in tandem with school wide discipline plans. Too often though, consistent behavior problems can threaten the classroom learning environment leaving teachers responsible for correcting student behavior in isolation while teaching 19 other students. It is only when an issue becomes too difficult to manage, extremely disruptive for other students, and after trying all other efforts are teachers left with little choice but to remove the offending student from the classroom. At this point, students who misbehave are usually brought to school leaders to resolve.
Some ways to support teachers and improve student behavior might include:
1. Adding SCHOOL DEANS to our middle schools and high schools. Deans are specifically focused on student behaviors, building relationships and ensuring quicker response times for referrals.
2. Establish a Zero Tolerance Bullying Policy with procedures that map out exactly what will happen and stick to it.
3. Create an environment where students can choose a vocational and technical program rather than the traditional classroom.
4. Provide more opportunities for teachers to help each other with student behaviour problems. This can be a helpful and sustainable approach for all teachers who teach the same student who is misbehaving or disengaged. This allows teachers to discuss the best ways of approaching the issue collaboratively. It is also a means for teachers to collaborate rather than going at the issue alone. They’d feel more supported and better equipped to deal with a discipline problem while building relationships simultaneously.
5. Provide more staff training on ways to connect with kids, manage student behavior in a positive school environment consistent with the school code of conduct.
6. Invite parents to become partners. This kind of partnership shows students their parent is involved; as well, it reinstates respect between the student and the teacher.
7. We need to have better communication and better follow up protocols to eliminate teacher frustration. Quick and effective follow up on referrals is necessary.
8. School leaders can also adopt a case management approach for students who exhibit challenging repetitive behaviour. This approach ensures students with ongoing behaviour issues are always attended. A case management approach would include a team of staff members finding and implementing collaborative solutions. Providing support through a case management team allows teachers to seek timely support from guidance counselors, administrators, student support specialists, and parents alike.
9. Free up teacher time for outreach efforts. Schools can provide time for teachers to call parents and meet with them. This allows for personal contacts with parents to discuss ongoing issues, rather than just informing parents of problems when they arise.
10. Another option might be to form a student or school placement committee. It would be the duty of the student placement committee to review the documentation after a teacher requests that a student be removed from the classroom.
Forming student or school placement committees of this type tells students their peers and building personnel are watching what they do. Creating committees can be an opportunity for students and staff members to hold others accountable for misbehaviors. It can remove the idea that decisions are made by adults with a “you against me” mentality. It also establishes an opportunity for students to self correct. The placement committee along with the above suggestions act as a medium for transparency and accountability all the way around.