"Discipline is the foundation upon which all success is built. A lack of discipline inevitably leads to failure." - Jim Rohn

When it comes to learning, students who lack discipline learn barely anything. That is why the responsibility of disciplining students is placed in the hands of the teacher. In fact, almost every staff member working at a school has the power and authority to punish students for bad behaviour, provided the discipline method chosen doesn't go against the law.

Teachers can punish students who misbehave, defiantly interrupt lessons, or who go against the school's code of conduct. In order for teachers to punish children for bad behaviour, teachers themselves must be well aware of what the stipulated rules of the school are.

Many schools place a strong emphasis on the dress code for students. Coloured hair, many piercings, and long hair for boys are often seen as going against the school's dress code. Teachers can call learners out for dressing inappropriately. Being law-enforcing with everything from the way students dress to the way the students behave in class makes you a good teacher and students start to realise that you are no walk in the park if you are firm about all rules of the school.

Speaking of dress code, there are ways in which teachers should dress too. Read all about what teachers should wear here.

Always use your position of authority wisely. You want to ensure that you are respected by your students and not taken advantage of. However, never discipline a student unnecessarily.

You can give warnings and even in worst cases expel students if they are behaving inappropriately, so always remember that you are in charge. As a teacher, you want to ensure that you are firm enough with your students so they do not try to disobey you or the school rules.

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Discipline in the Classroom

No teacher wants to ever punish students but there are times when discipline strategies becomes necessary, especially in the classroom. If you do not discipline students, they may walk all over you.

Children are quite demanding and they want instant gratification, so they don't realise that what they want the most is to finish school with good grades. They misbehave to catch the attention of their peers and in turn lose out entirely on the lesson being taught. Punishment allows you to curb bad behaviour immediately so that learners do not unnecessarily transgress. However, punishment needs to be constructive and have meaning. When you punish a learner, the learner must be made aware that the same behaviour that he or she is being punished for can't be repeated.

A good teacher constantly reminds students that having discipline is essential as it prevents you from getting what you want immediately so that you can get something better in the long run. Make sure that students always understand the reason for the punishment.

Why should you punish students?
We shouldn't punish them for making mistakes, but rather correct their behaviour and conduct in class. (Source: Vladvictoria)

“Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want the most.” - Abraham Lincoln

If you establish clear rules from the onset, you will succeed in maintaining discipline in your classroom. If you specify rules immediately, you can alert a learner when he or she breaks a rule that was made clear from the beginning.

As a teacher, you will realise that punishment can be educational too. You can use something that a learner did wrong to teach them a lesson, so that he or she avoids making the same mistake in the future.

Punishment must not be purposeless. If a student does not learn from his or her punishment, then the punishment seems futile.  Most of the cases you encounter require smaller punishments as opposed to larger punishment strategies like suspension or expulsion. Again only opt for severe punishment when warnings or explanations don't work.

Read all about how teachers can earn students' respect.

What is an appropriate punishment for a student?
Punishment shouldn't be cruel or unusual, it should teach the student what they did wrong and allow them to learn how to avoid it in the future. (Source: Anemone123)

Classroom Discipline Strategies

You are allowed to discipline within your classroom, however, punishment always needs to be in line with the school’s disciplinary procedure.

You can use the following discipline strategies like:

  • If your student is not respecting basic classroom rules, like raising their hand, warn the student and explain to him or her why he or she should be following the correct procedures.
  • Disobeying the teacher requires a more severe punishment, you can send a child to the principal's office if he or she is rude to you. (Again, if you are being disobeyed by a student, it is best not to let your emotions cloud your judgement in terms of deciding upon an appropriate punishment)

Whatever discipline strategies that you choose to use in the classroom, ensure that you never abuse your power. Never punish so severely if the transgression is not so serious.

More classroom discipline strategies will be learnt over time as you become more experienced as a teacher.

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Positive Classroom Discipline

If you are in a situation where punishment becomes essential, try to use positive classroom discipline strategies.

  • Keep a record of the transgressions of each student in a record book
  • Put your students writing skills into practice by making them write apology letter
  • If students are being punished for not listening in class, have them summarise the work done in class
  • Give students who are misbehave, extra enrichment tasks for homework so their punishment is more fruitful
  • In more extreme cases, reduce learners' break time
  • Detention (depending on the school’s detention policy) can also be a positive discipline strategy
What types of punishment are there?
Consider allowing students to learn from their errors rather than trying to make an example of them. (Source: 14995841)

Although sending a misbehaving student out of the class is a strategy used by most teachers, some schools vote against it. It is not at all a positive discipline strategy. Learners learn nothing from this type of punishment and some of them actually enjoy the freedom of being outside of class unmonitored.

Always keep in mind that you cannot humiliate or belittle any student as a way to discipline them. Humiliating learners is never a positive discipline strategy.

Teaching students how to concentrate in class may mean not having to worry so much of having to discipline them.

Maintaining Discipline in the Classroom

All teachers try their best to avoid situations where students have to get expelled or suspended. That is why it is most important for teachers to ensure that they are constantly maintaining discipline in the classroom.

Make sure to enforce rules so well that punishment is only required for very special cases.  Most schools predetermine what types of punishment is deemed acceptable and what types of punishment are unacceptable.

If a student behaves extremely badly, the decision as to what punishment is best is generally left up to the school. If the school takes the decision to expel a student, a meeting is usually held with the student and his or her parents. To decide whether a student needs to be temporarily suspended or expelled, it is good for teachers to have records of all the learner transgressions. This record can serve as a form of evidence which can help the school to make the decision of whether to suspend or expel a student.

Why are students suspended or expelled?
Generally, students only face suspension for being a risk or a danger to other students and teaching staff. (Source: mnplatypus)

Classroom Management and Discipline

"Without self discipline, success is impossible, period." - Lou Holtz

One thing you will start to understand from the moment that you step into the classroom as a teacher is that in order for you to enforce discipline, you need to be well-disciplined yourself.

Students know which teacher exudes self discipline and which teacher is not at all disciplined. In this way, you need to ensure that you always appear to be confident, assertive, as well as organised in front of your students.

You need to set rules to ensure that class management becomes effortless and so that students know what is expected of them in terms of how they should behave. You should also show appreciation for students who are well-behaved and barely ever act in undisciplined ways. Tell students who go against rules why what they are doing is wrong. Explain to students why it is important to follow rules. Utilise positive reinforcement strategies for students who follow rules and behave well.

You could offer certain rewards like a student who hasn't broken any rules throughout the term gets a certificate of appreciation or one less homework task than all the other students.

Also, remember, to keep parents informed about student behaviour as often as you. It is important to let the child's parents know that he or she is receiving punishment for breaking a rule, immediately when he or she breaks the rule.

You will slowly learn that forming a relationship with parents is also an effective disciplining strategy.

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Laila

Laila is an enthusiastic English educator and a fun-filled freelance writer. She has accomplished her dream of getting her first book published and has managed to write over 1 000 000 words since beginning her freelance career. In her free time, she is a travel blogger who explores all South Africa has to offer.