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Reflections On Cooperative Discipline In The Classroom

1978 words - 8 pages

I recently took a course on cooperative discipline and found that many of my own beliefs and practices involving discipline in the classroom were validated and reinforced throughout the class. Students do choose how they will behave and the best way (maybe even the easiest way) to get them to make the right choices in the classroom is to foster a feeling of mutual respect and to give them a sense of responsibility or classroom ownership. Kids want discipline, or maybe to put it differently they want structure and predictability. And the nice thing about Linda Albert’s cooperative discipline model is that it gives the students exactly what they need. But what are our responsibilities? Linda Albert tells us that “the ultimate goal of student behavior is to fulfill a need to belong”, so it is our job to fill that need by helping the student to feel capable, connected, and able to contribute (in a positive way) to the group.
To help students to feel capable, connected and contributing (or the three C’s) Linda Albert asks us to make five fundamental changes to our classrooms, or what she calls “Paradigm Shifts in Cooperative Discipline” (see figure 2). Firstly, we need to move away from a “hands-on” or “hands-clenched” approach to discipline, which is an authoritarian style of classroom discipline, to a “hands-joined” or democratic style of classroom management. Secondly, we need to recognize that student behavior is a choice, and not caused by some outside force, though these forces may influence student behavior it is ultimately the student’s decision on how they will act in your classroom. Thirdly, she asks us to abandon our long list of classroom rules and replace it with a concise code of conduct; shifting the classroom atmosphere from a “thou shall not” tone to one of individual responsibility and mutual respect. Fourthly, giving encouragement rather than giving praise. Encouragement places the responsibility for good behavior/work on the student’s efforts rather than on the teacher’s instruction. Lastly, we need to move away from a cause and effect style of punishment and move to the “four R’s”. Consequences need to be created around the “four R’s”, which means that consequences must be related, reasonable, respectfully delivered, and reliably enforced (Albert 2003; Albert, Kyle, & Gilbert, 2010).
How do we create a “hands-joined” classroom? The “hands-joined” classroom employs a democratic style of discipline and one of the first steps toward creating a “hands-joined” classroom is to form a code of conduct (see figure 5 for example code of conduct). The code of conduct can and probably should be created as a class. Building your code of conduct around student ideas allows the students to take ownership of the work and also increases their responsibility and obligation to follow the code of conduct because it is their own product. “Teachers who have developed a code of conduct report a significant decrease in power struggles in the...

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