5 Ways to Decrease Disciplinary Issues in the Classroom

Many educators indicate that mastering classroom management is one of the most difficult parts of the profession. Teachers who struggle with poor classroom management skills will never get their students to learn at their highest potential. Their students are seen off task, talking to their friends, defiant, and disrespectful. These students are often assigned consequences for their actions that do little to change their behavior. These consequences include benching students at recess, after-school detention, parent/teacher conferences, sending students to the office, and Saturday school. The goal in these situations is to change the behavior, not to continuously battle for power with a child in the classroom. Sending them out of the classroom only gives in to what some of them ultimately want.

Here are five ways to decrease disciplinary issues in the classroom.

  1. Know The Home Environment of Your Students

It is important to know your students on a deeper level than just their existence in your classroom. You might see a particular student for an hour or two a day if you are a secondary teacher, and up to eight hours per day if you teach a primary grade level. A lot happens to a child throughout the rest of the day. It is important that you know about the environment they go home to at the end of the day. A child who goes home to an challenging home environment might not get a lot of attention from their parents, get little sleep because they share a room with their siblings, and likely comes to school without a good breakfast or breakfast at all. This child will have trouble staying on task and following directions due to environmental control outside of the teacher’s control. Punishing that student won’t change anything. We need to get to know them on a personal level. We need to show empathy, caring, and understand. That connection can change everything.

  1. Get Students to Respect You, Not Fear You

Never confuse fear and respect. Students, who are compliant in the classroom out of fear, do not have respect for their instructor. We often tell students that respect is earned, but don’t hold this notion true for ourselves. We must earn the respect of our students, not expect it from day one because we are their teacher. Respect is earned from getting to know your students on an individual basis and showing that you respect them. Show them you care about them and not look down upon them. Never use power to command respect. Chances are, they have enough people in their world that do that already.

  1. Set Clear and Concise Classroom Expectations

Long behavior contracts or classroom rules with complicated language will due little to quell disruptive behaviors in the classroom. Make your expectations simple and clear. I believe that the follow three rules encapsulate most expectations for a classroom:

  1. Treat others as you would like to be treated
  2. Respect other people and their property
  3. Be responsible for your own learning

There is no need to over-complicate this process. When a child breaks a rule, let them know which rule they broke, why it is important, and how they can make a better choice in the future.

  1. Address Student Behavior Individually and With Discretion

During the course of the day, teachers will have to redirect students and address behaviors that are in conflict with the expectations of the class. Instead of addressing the misbehaving student in front of the entire class, pull the child to the side of the room when appropriate or go up to them and address their behavior in a discrete manner. Addressing them in front of the entire classroom will only humiliate them and make them angry with you. Remember, you want them to respect you, not fear you. Above all, never make a child call their parent from the classroom phone during class in front of everyone. Humiliation at this level will only make their behavior worse in the long run.

  1. Create an Engaging, Innovative Classroom Environment

The best way to decrease off-task behavior is a good offense. Instead of always focusing on consequences, create a classroom environment that they want to be a part of. Students who are excited about learning are likely to be on-task, respectful, and will rise to your high expectations. Instead of having students sit quietly and listen to a lecture or work on individual tasks, create a learning environment of collaboration, project-based learning, and instructional technology. Many disruptive behaviors will disappear when you allow them to move around the classroom and engage with other students. This is even more important at the end of the school day when children have been sitting in desks for hours and hours already.

Dr. David Franklin, CEO of The Principal’s Desk, is an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions. He can be reached at david@theprincipalsdesk.org or at www.principalsdesk.org.

Published by David Franklin

Dr. David Franklin is an experienced school administrator, education professor, curriculum designer, and presenter. Dr. Franklin has presented at national and international education conferences as is available for school and district professional development sessions.

18 thoughts on “5 Ways to Decrease Disciplinary Issues in the Classroom

  1. The research-based character education movement would embrace these recommendations with the additional emphasis that expectations (all here did) have ethical foundations. Connecting the “rules” to ethical claims that can be expressed in core ethical values (respect, responsibility, care, integrity) is a foundational way to build an ethical learning community. Our friends in moral psychology would acknowledge there is a “moral claim” to motivation that can be encouraged when teachers help to make that link. Most students want to be ethical and the ethical claim of expectations and rules will help motivate them to support their own ethical classroom. For strategies to advance this colleagues are invited to visit — http://www.ethicsed.org


  2. #2 and #5 are so vital to school success. Students who don’t respect teachers and school leaders will never be able to really succeed. And that respect comes from constant engagement with students and their families, understanding their needs, and adjusting your school’s strategy to address those needs.


    1. Having been a teacher and administrator ,I certainly concur with the article . The trick with certain staff is if they are capable of inculcating each of these ,so that positive management and on task behavior is the result . Many can and to some these come naturally ,but to others they might just as well be learning five foreign languages at once . A good recipe for success in the classroom though !


  3. Great insight. Teachers must also focus on reinforcing positive behaviour rather than dealing with undesirable behaviour all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with all the 5 ways of dealing disciplinary issues, No doubt a teacher should plan well before entering into the classroom and always try to keep classroom atmosphere conducive to learning, but as far as movement of student in class is concerned I don’t think it is applicable in every subject and grade. for Junior classes it may be useful but in secondary classes this may be fatal and will distract student.


  5. I agree with all five. But believe that number five is so important. When a teacher comes into the classroom fully prepared, to keep the students fully engaged, while moving helpfully throughout the room implementing the day’s lesson, that is what will maximize the day for both the teacher and learners.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A thought provoking write – up. Another important way to contain uproar in the class is that the mentor is motivated from within. The discipline issues crop up and sustain when the teacher has stagnant practices. The self motivation of the teacher will surely cascade down to the students.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I believe that different skills work for different teachers at different times. Although consistency is essential, what works today with one class may not work tomorrow with another. Thus, having the wherewithal(withitness) to know what tools to use with what kids, and when, is key, as every teacher will have disciple issues no matter how good/great you are; that’s the nature of our business. Some teachers are just better at managing student behavior than others, mainly because they are better learners themselves, and are not afraid of learning and growing with their kids. This is the excitement they bring to the classroom that inspire kids.
    Don’t get me wrong, kids need discipline, and the teacher has to know when to remove a student from the classroom so that learning can continue. Detentions, parent conferences, suspensions etc., all these work; just not with all students, and not all the time!
    However, having the ability and creativity to plan interesting and engaging lessons takes care of most of your behavioral issues, regardless of what personal, developmental or environmentally complex issues students bring to the classroom. Great teachers have always had the ability to take students on exciting journeys, and they always will. 😎


  8. These 5 are hitting the nail on the head. It is the trap that most teachers fall into, the power struggle, our biggest enemy and a skill that “difficult learners” mastered to manipulate us with. Teachers need to have self confidence, inner strenght and a high EQ to “out smart” these learners and still earn the respect of the others, even the “difficult” ones. To loose your cool is to hand over the power… battle lost. We feed of each others energy wether it is posirive or negative. When you have discipline issues in your class start off by doing intro spection and then the rest will fall into place.


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