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Discipline is the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behaviour, using punishment to correct disobedience. (Oxford Dictionary) Discipline in the classroom is a fundamental aspect of classroom management and whilst it invokes images of punishment it is focused on learning the rules of conduct that control behaviour to maintain order. Furthermore, establishing and maintaining discipline not only helps to promote a safe and enjoyable classroom environment but it also helps to produce an atmosphere conducive to learning. The degree that discipline will have to be maintained in the classroom largely depends on a number of factors including: age of students, reasons for learning/motivation, class size, principles and atmosphere of the school and respect between the students and the teacher. As detailed in the tefl unit 5, it is important to strike the right balance between maintaining discipline and encouraging a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. There are a number of reasons why students misbehave including: family problems, low self-esteem, peer pressure, lack of respect for teacher
and peers and class size. Boredom is another key reason why many students misbehave. It is the teacher's job to make sure students are on task with work and that they are challenged in all they do. The teacher needs to keep in mind the language level of the students and be ready to use a variety of different activities and teaching techniques to ensure that they are teaching to students correct level and that students do not loose interest. If a student is bored they are more likely to act out. McDaniel and Kappan (1986) identify some methods of discouraging problem behaviours and discipline methods for effective group management this includes using low profile intervention, assertive discipline, and proactive and positive discipline. Low profile intervention: Strategies include reminding students of rules and redirecting behaviour to an acceptable alternative. The teacher should change classroom dynamics to separate disruptive students and helps avoid detrimental effects of peer pressure. Privately reprimanding a student enhances the chance of a constructive discussion and minimizes class disruption.
Assertive discipline: Rules should be consistently enforced and logical consequences should relate to the behaviour, providing an obvious connection between behaviour and results. Where stronger action is necessary, the teacher should always remain calm and avoid power struggles. Shouting at students it counterproductive and is unlikely to prevent misbehaviour from reoccurring. Proactive and Positive Discipline: Describe behaviours you want, not those you don't. Reinforcement of expectations, genuine understanding of needs and praise for positive acts encourages proper behavior. Low self-esteem often leads to misbehaviour and praise and encouragement builds confidence: Consistency and predictability are the cornerstones of discipline and praise is the most powerful reinforcer of learning (Academy of Psychiatry 2006). Other ways to respond to problem behaviours is to act immediately- stop the action and don't let the problem worsen, focus on the behaviour not the student, use the knowledge of other teachers and colleagues and above all keep calm and be firm and consistent.
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