Rethinking Discipline in Schools
Rethinking Discipline in Schools
PUBLISHED: Wednesday, February 06, 2019 by Andilynn Feddeler

In many schools, students who act out are placed in a quiet room with nothing to do, or sent home for a few days without any guidance in addressing their behavior. The concepts of detention and suspension, no matter how well-intentioned, always seem to fall short of making any actual changes in how students behave. Rather than blindly punishing minor offenses without communicating and working with problem students, teachers and administrators nationwide have started to adapt restorative practices.

Restorative practices, in short, forego punishment and consequences in favor of understanding the reasoning behind student behavior and determining possible solutions on both sides of the student-teacher relationship. This approach emphasizes forgiveness, learning from failure, and repairing relationships. It places the student’s well-being over punishment in attempt to prevent academic setbacks from suspension, as well as to show the student support he or she may be lacking.

It’s also important to reflect on whether or not the consequences students are given actually make any difference in how they behave. More often than not, detention and suspension convince the students that teachers are against them, which strains the relationship and can even make their behavior worse. Employing preventative measures and rewarding positive behavior are, along with restorative practices, some alternatives to consider when having trouble with particular students. Revisiting classroom expectations and codes of conduct may also provide students reminders as to what is appropriate behavior and what isn’t.

There’s no way to completely eliminate problem behavior, but rethinking the consequences of it can provide some insights as to how to combat and resolve it. Remembering that students have lives outside of the classroom can be helpful as well—sometimes, what happens at home or with friends can manifest itself into misbehavior. All in all, try to approach students with compassion and understanding. It may be just what they need.