Tag Archives: discipline techniques

Think Time for Planning Lessons and Life

What exactly is think time? For me it’s a block of time that I actually set aside to just sit and think. What, you ask in shock? Who has time to just sit and think? Isn’t that just a waste of time, sitting and thinking? The short answer is no. Think time makes me more efficient so my job is easier. Therefore my life is more enjoyable.

But why do you have to just sit and think? Can’t you think while out walking or doing something else? Of course you can, but real think time for me can’t come with any distractions. It really requires all of my concentration. It’s meant to let me focus on one major problem. It makes all the gray matter work very hard. I sometimes visualize it as a fusion of all my brain cells coming together to problem solve.

I have been using think time for years. When I was in the classroom think time was a tremendous asset. Sometimes I would have a student who was having problems. I would allow myself a 15-minute block of time to just ponder about a particular child. I always started with questions, What was the problem? How did it manifest itself? Was there a trigger? Was I the trigger? Could something be re-taught to make it easier for the student? Was a behavior problem part of the frustration of not learning something? Or was there a problem at home I wasn’t aware of?

I’ve actually created a model for myself for think time. I start with a question and then think through the answer. This of course creates more questions and that creates an interior dialogue. I don’t allow myself to refer to experts or read about the problem, although that might eventually be part of the solution. I just let my mind move, although not aimlessly wander. It’s extremely important to stay focused on the problem I have posed to myself. Often times I recall some small detail that I had not remembered and it was all I needed to realize how to solve the problem.

One of these think time problems was a 7th grade student named Gilbert. Gilbert was really one of the worst behavior problems I’d ever encountered. He didn’t finish anything, took no responsibility for bringing any supplies to class, and thought nothing about talking back. You know it was good day when Gilbert was called out of class which was quite often. Since we were both going to be together in class for a whole year it behooved me to think about Gilbert and what I might do to help him.

I remember staying in my classroom one day during my lunch period just to think about Gilbert. I realized I had never met his parents. They never came to school functions. It took a lot of work, but finally one day I got Gilbert’s mother to school. There was no dad. I invited Gilbert to join us. To say it was an eye-opening experience is an understatement. Gilbert’s mom was just like her son. She had trouble sitting. What came out of her mouth was astonishingly rude. But at least I understood where he learned his behavior. Talk about modeling.

Did I solve Gilbert’s problems with my think time. I’m afraid I didn’t. But did I understand this boy better? Absolutely. I understood what some of his limitations were and why. We both got along much better after this, making my class a much happier place to learn. My think time had a positive outcome.

I still use think time. At TCR I often use it to concentrate on books and other editorial projects that just might need a bit of help when they are stalled. In my personal life it helps me to make decisions about all types of problems including some as simple as why the laundry isn’t getting done to whether we really need a new internet service.

Do you have your own version of think time? How does it work and how do you use it to help solve classroom problems?

Students Forgetting Their Homework? Try This Behavior Reflection Approach

If a student forgets his or her homework, a teacher may have the student stay in at recess or during study hall, do the missing work, and fill out a behavior reflection form. This form is designed to have students think about what they did, why it was inappropriate, and how to avoid this behavior next time. They need to answer in complete sentences and thoughtfully. This form is then taken home that evening, signed by the student’s parents, and brought back to school the next day. It is a great way to keep parents informed of late work and a great way to keep the student on track of his or her responsibilities.

This form is only effective for those students who forget occasionally. For the repeat offender, other measures will have to be taken to better help him or her remember. Also, the reflection form is general enough that it can also be used for other situations, such as a social problem that occurred that day in school. Filling out a sample reflection form together, as a whole class, would be a good way to model what is expected of the students.

If the teacher does not have a study hall, consider getting some teachers in the same grade level to give up one lunch period to sit for study hall. Study hall duty would be on a rotating basis. The more teachers involved, the fewer lunches missed per teacher. If this is not possible, the student should stay in from recess to fill out the reflection form and do the missing work.

The teacher may want to have a spot on a bulletin board or whiteboard for those students who are to go to study hall that day. This will also serve as a reminder to the teacher and the students that they have a reflection form that needs to be signed. It is recommended that student numbers rather than names are used on this board to avoid embarrassment.

Student Discipline Strategies for Teachers

A good teacher is never without a good plan for discipline in the classroom. Ask any teacher and you’ll know that good behavior management can go a long away. To help with managing student behavior, here are a few discipline strategies for teachers to keep in mind:

Discipline with Dignity
All students need to be treated with dignity. Even when a student is being disciplined, he or she needs to retain dignity. Private reminders and conferences with the child will preserve his or her dignity and yours.

One of the best things to remember concerning disciplining students is that they win whenever they get you to “lose your cool.” Take your time when students “push your buttons” and decide carefully on your response. In this way, you will not behave in a way that you will regret later.

Teach Students Responsibility
Students need to be taught that they are responsible for their own behavior. If a student does not follow the rules, it is best for natural or determined consequences to take their course whenever possible. When parents and others intervene, they take the responsibility for the student’s behavior away from the student.

Exercise Break
One of the best favors you can do for your students and yourself when students get wiggly and cannot seem to concentrate is to take an exercise break. One good time for a break like this is about 45 minutes before lunch. Take your students outside for 5–7 minutes of exercise led first by yourself, and then, after they know the exercises, the students. This is not to replace physical education, but it is a quick chance to do some specific physical activity when students need it most.

Another variation on this is to use low impact aerobics for children in the classroom. One caution is that many of the shoes the students wear to school might be dangerous for exercise routines. If this is the case, you might want to encourage students to bring some tennis shoes to school for their exercise breaks.

Reward Good Behavior
A good discipline system should also include positive reinforcement for good behavior. Award certificates, badges, or simple, sincere verbal praise can keep good behavior on track and build self-esteem.

There are, of course, many more strategies for student discipline, and what may work for one teacher may not work for another. What discipline techniques have you found to be effective in your classroom?