Teacher’s Take on Using Positive Discipline in the Classroom

From a 1st/2nd grade teacher who shares that PD is about process and relationships, not just outcomes!

Pos Time OutI have duct tape on the floor in two places in the room.  These  pieces of duct tape represent locations on particular student can move to when they feel themselves getting wiggly or wanting to poke their neighbor. The student chose these locations. To choose the locations they dismissed other spots because they were too close to their friends.  I also contributed my thoughts about what would work with me.  This came out of my telling the student that I wanted  to think of a way to reduce chatting and also reduce the number of times that I was sending him out of the carpet to a chair for chatting and calling out….  This is just one piece of the puzzle, because I also realized that I was unconsciously supporting some of his calling put by responding  when his calling out was on topic!  I realized that I was sending mixed messages… So now I work on not responding and encouraging students to remember to raise your hand and also owning when I make a mistake and forget. This experience has given me some perspective on how difficult it is to change my own habits of behavior and this in turn has made me more patient with my students.

I used to think that if I didn’t see results right away, it meant that my Positive Discipline approach was failing but I am realizing that this is not the case at all.

Working on solutions with a student is exactly the same as working on a learning difficulty.  With learning difficulties my goal is to never give up…. to keep trying, to learn as much as I can about the student so that I can continue to support that student in learning,  to enlist help from others and be willing to try new things.  When I do this, I am communicating a ton of faith in the student and this is probably the most important thing. And so while having things improve is important, never giving up is equally important.

Positive Discipline is deeply reflective work.  I might think that the goal is to not give up on students, but it is also not to give up on myself and my ability to help others in my role as teacher.

Alfred Adler talked about how as individuals we are constantly creating a sense of meaning about ourselves and our world.  Another realization I have had is that how I perceive students and the class has a big impact on how things go and how others perceive themselves in relationship to me.  Am I seeing the the cup half full or half empty? Do I see my students efforts to support learning and do their best? Or am I only paying attention to their failures? Am I looking at what is going well or am I only seeing what is not going well?

This gets back to the whole idea of control vs. cooperation….  My life with students. In my class is incredibly rich because through the process of teaching/guiding them I get to know them and they  get to know me. When the process is mutually respectful and caring then cooperation flows naturally….  Control sets up a completely different relationship that undermines cooperation, because it really sends the message of a lack of trust and faith …. Lack of trust in myself and them.  This contributes to a lack of safety and that means that making mistakes can feel dangerous, instead of a natural part of the process.


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