Discipline systems. Where to begin.


People don’t even *like* that word. Discipline. Compliance. Defiance. Punishment. Etc.

I think, if we do something, we should do it all the way.  And if we decide to do something, it should be the RIGHT something.

I guess that’s narrow-minded, but really, I don’t think there are *many* ways to do one thing well, and I think extrinsic motivators are REALLY annoying.

In general, I really liked Rafe Esquith’s classroom management style described in Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire.  I implemented a classroom economy while also emphasizing the Five Levels of Motivation (Maslow) in hopes that one day, students would do things because they had their own code rather than simply to avoid getting in trouble or getting a reward.

I also really liked the idea of group incentives and individual incentives to jumpstart class buy-in balanced out by strict, consistent consequences.

I’m sure if I say this, everyone would agree. But it’s just so darn interesting to see how everyone implements it in their classroom!

Last year, I took to heart a few strategies from Whole-Brain Teaching as suggested by one of my super respected colleagues… and basically just trial and error and being super consistent led to a few tears, outbursts, but ultimately sanity and most importantly, steady, strong relationships.

This year, I’m just pretty frustrated.

  1. I don’t like to be the person that upholds a rule.  I’m a big rule-stickler, and I also notice when rules aren’t being followed.  For instance, gum is not allowed at my school. I am really good at spotting gum.  Dead-on good.  I am also really good at spotting phones and uniform violations.  But, I also know some kids have exceptions. I get super confused if a kid is blatantly not following a rule later on in the day (especially if I know they’ve been with another teacher), because I just assume there’s a reason that kid is not following the rule.  But then, if I’m suddenly upholding the rule, I become the bad guy.  And that just makes me mad.
  2. I get the whole idea for positive language – but is it really that bad to call a rule, “rule” instead of “norm” or “expectation”?  I don’t really understand the reasoning behind it.  I mean, I follow laws and I don’t freak out at the fact that there are laws.  Whatever. That’s a miniscule bone to pick.
  3. Warnings upon warnings is dumb. Today, I basically gave a kid 4 warnings before I sent him out to “do a reflection” which consisted of checking 3 boxes and then of him interrupting me in class to “check-in.”  We don’t do detentions because admin-led detentions “takes the power from the teacher” (naw man, TAKE that power – TAKE that power and RUN those detentions!), and we’re encouraged to have students “reflect” instead.  So… yeah, “reflection” is now a consequence…. which is exactly what I tried so hard not to make it in my class last year. I wanted kids to know reflection is a skill and strategy and that they don’t necessarily lead to a consequence.  But now, it’s basically step 3 in our consequence list.
  4. PBIS is just.. really annoying. I feel like every time it’s implemented, we’re paying kids to be good.  I get it that there are lots of different kinds of extrinsic motivators that we’re already doing… but if we DO do these, I’m not given ENOUGH incentives to give out to students and shouldn’t positive incentives also be balanced out by consequences?  What am I? A preschool? haha.

I think it’s just frustrating to be put in a situation where the systems are not strong so I’m not really set up to succeed.  I appreciate my coordinator’s philosophy because she’s saying that everything we’re doing is messy and it’s a bit unfair to hold kids to standards when we’re not having the smoothest plans.  I think though, that’s not really my fault.  At the end of the day, I’ve actually put a lot of time and thought into the lessons, and if other people are dropping the ball, why and how is it my fault?  If it’s not my fault, why do I have to deal with the aftermath of kids who are mouthy and mean?  Why don’t they deal with it?

Okay, I can’t just hand off the teaching, haha, but I did tell my coordinator that today was a day where if I only worked at this second site (with these ridiculous discipline policies), I would have quit, because there are many other schools who uphold a strict but warm system and I could easily work there.  I cannot work in a place where systems differ from classroom to classroom. That just adds way too much stress to an already stressful job.

My coordinator did bring up good points though.  We can’t bash a system when we’re not at our best either.  Also, it’s good that kids are testy – they shouldn’t just accept any person placed as an authority figure.  I guess I’m just sick of having to “earn my way” into a school. I did that last year.   It’s not that bad this year because I think I’m just more confident, but it still just gets annoying.  So basically, my coordinator encouraged me to be patient and just collect data and then show that it’s not working.

I guess for me, I’m being “fixed-minded” with the whole, “it’s not going to work, and now we’re just wasting two good weeks,” but whatever.

I just don’t like it when things aren’t organized.  When I had my own classroom, I could just put in the hours and make it organized.  At first, I was doing that, but now I’m sort of giving up.  It’s sort of like in middle school, I used to do most of the work during group projects, and in high school, I stopped because I figured a lower grade with less work was better.  That’s how I feel.  I don’t want to pull weight, I don’t want to do extra, because it doesn’t actually make my life easier.  I know that’s bad, but that’s just how I’m feeling.

So maybe the title of this post shouldn’t be “Discipline Systems”, it should have just been “systems” in general.

Anyway, now I’m going to go for a walk. *whew*.


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