In his seminar on classroom management, behavioral researcher and professor, Glenn Latham tells the story of a teacher who was particularly abusive to her students. Not only was she heavy handed in her classroom, her discipline was often indiscriminate and patently unfair. To say that the students did not like or respect her would be an exaggeration, as was evident one weekend when they burned her classroom to the ground.
However, we would be wise not to come to the conclusion that discipline shouldn’t play an essential role in student behavior at school. What is essential is which they be treated with respect, even though they are not doing what they know they need to and that discipline, if it is necessary is applied appropriately. Tragic as it can be, this is not always the case in the current schools.
As a teacher, there’s nothing more exciting than entering a well organized and disciplined classroom and few things less attractive than one that does not possess those qualities, but creating this environment requires great planning and discipline on the part of the teacher and administrators school. Harry Wong makes this clear in his book, The First Days of School, as he tells us that success in the classroom is normally won or lost in the first couple of minutes, maybe even the first couple of seconds, of the college year. Good teachers, he tells us, spend a lot of time finding your way through the fist few days of school, and then spend the first fourteen days developing and rehearsing procedures that’ll create the classroom environment to last throughout the year.
In his book, Teach Just like a Champion, Doug Lemov tells of a teacher who spends the first hour of the first day of school teaching students to distribute papers. “We did that in 33 seconds,” he tells them, “let’s see when we can’t obtain it under thirty seconds this time.” Lemov continues on to point out that such rehearsals are not a waste of time and estimates that teacher saves hrs on the span of the entire year by having this procedure in place.
However, this is not pretty much acquiring proficiency, it’s about making a warm nurturing environment where students can learn and thrive. Systems and procedures have to be in place and well practiced so that students know what is required of them in addition to what the expected outcomes is going to be because of their behavior. The internet effect is just a huge decrease in stress levels for both the students and the teachers, and with less stress, teachers are free to activate and instruct at a high level.
So how do we prevent vandalism and teach kids respect? We get it done by first demonstrating ourselves the behaviors we want to instill inside our students, by treating them with respect even when we don’t think they deserve it, and by putting systems into place that’ll ensure growth. Kids in that type of environment are highly unlikely to wish to destroy property and, maybe even moreover, are more likely to produce a significant contribution to the planet in the future.