Positive discipline is a more effective way to manage misbehaving students in the classroom, rather than using punishment or rewards. It allows students to learn and adapt their behaviors to meet expectations in the classroom, while simultaneously teaching them how to make better choices in their path to adulthood.
If a student misbehaves in the classroom, a teacher must have a few techniques that they can use to reduce or eliminate the unwanted behavior. From misbehaving in the classroom to not doing the assigned work, there are many ways to deal with unwanted behavior including punishment, discipline, or even using rewards. However, the most effective method for dealing with students that are misbehaving in the classroom is using positive discipline. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are many types of positive discipline, and whatever technique is used to prevent or reduce misbehavior will only be effective if:
Both the student and teacher understand what the problem behavior is and what the expected consequence is for the misbehavior
The appropriate consequence is consistently applied every time the misbehavior occurs
The manner you deliver the technique matters (calm versus aggressive)
It gives the students a reason for a specific consequence to help them learn
In most cases, using punishment or rewards is not needed, as the majority of problems or misbehaviors can be dealt with using positive discipline.
Difference Between Punishment and Positive Discipline
The meaning of punishment is simple - it's an action or penalty that is imposed on a student for misbehaving or breaking a rule. However, the impact on students can be very detrimental, from inducing physical or emotional pain to not being effective in reducing future misbehaviors. Punishment is used to control the behavior of students, in two different ways:
Negative discipline involves verbal disapproval and reprimands
Corporal punishment involves severe emotional or physical pain
Alternatively, positive discipline is the practice of training or teaching a student to obey the code of behavior or rules in both the short and long term. Instead of controlling the behavior of students, teachers can use positive discipline to develop a child's behaviors through self-control and making positive choices.
According to Teachers Unite, which is a movement of public school teachers fighting for social justice, punitive punishment toward students — suspensions, aggressive policing and reactive strategies — go against human rights and fail to address the real problem. However, preventative and constructive approaches that use positive discipline create a positive school atmosphere and also teaches students conflict resolution and behavior skills. In the end, positive discipline can help shape a child, by using encouragement rather than meaningless and even painful consequences, like punishment.
Positive Discipline Techniques
There are tons of techniques that teachers can use to reinforce good behavior with positive discipline, including:
Set the classroom rules at the start of the year
Have consistent expectations
Set goals at the beginning of class
Appropriate behavior should be reinforced
Remain neutral during conflicts
Search for the root cause of the misbehavior
Student dignity matters
Create individual plans for students
Model appropriate behaviors
Provide students with different choices
Remove objects in the environment that cause distractions
Listen to students
Using these positive discipline techniques will help teachers maintain a positive atmosphere and support an inclusive learning environment. In fact, when addressing a specific child, it is important for teachers to work closely with the caregivers and the student to develop a positive discipline plan that works. One of the most critical parts of positive discipline is to help students learn the new behaviors that meet expectations in the classroom, home and elsewhere.
Using Rewards and Privileges
Another alternative to punishment and positive discipline is the use of rewards and privileges for good behavior in the classroom. A reward system can be put in place to encourage good behavior in students that are misbehaving, from helping out other students to raising their hand instead of blurting out the answer. On the other hand, a system that uses privileges, such as being able to go to class without an adult, focuses on good behavior over a period of time and accumulating points toward a certain privilege. However, using rewards and privileges in the long term can lead to negative outcomes, like rewarding students just for participating. To avoid a reliance on a rewards system, positive discipline uses positive and negative consequences to help students learn.
Benefits of Positive Discipline
Using positive discipline techniques can help teachers overcome the many challenges in the classroom and help students learn and make better choices in the future. In fact, using positive discipline in the classroom not only increases academic success in the classroom but provides many other benefits, including:
Students show respect for the teacher
Students are on task and engaged
Less disciplinary measures are needed
Fewer suspension and expulsions
Students see rules as fair
These are just a few of the benefits that can be seen from using positive discipline techniques in the classroom. On top of this, the benefits also extend beyond the classroom, into the home life, sports and social environment of the student, from being more respectful to everyone to understanding the social norms in different situations.
We asked the TED-Ed Innovative Educators to share their favorite ideas. Here’s what they suggest:
It’s 2018! Drop the double-negative zero. Let students revise until they get it right. And get your students to deliver TED-Ed Club talks! — Josefino Rivera
It’s time to realize that as long as we keep telling our students that their average matters more than the value of their creativity and the quality of their character, we will continue to graduate generations of young people who only see school as a hoop to jump through. Students deserve more. — Karen Goepen-Wee
Expose students to the process of design thinking. This allows them to solve real-world problems and to expand their creativity. — Jenny Lehotsky
Explore more technology options, so that students are exposed to a global classroom. Both teachers and students should be willing to change the way they learn in a classroom. — Maggie Muuk
Encourage students to embrace difficult and courageous conversations, leaning into discomfort of disagreements for understanding and empathy. — Nola-Rae Cronan
Empower students and teachers to explore Sustainable Development Goals. — Yau-Jau Ku
Let the kids think for themselves. Teach the kids to be curious and act upon it. Teach them to research. — Sharon Hadar
Bring mindfulness into the lives of our students and educators to create more peace in the world. — Pen-Pen Chen
I think its time to introduce more critical/independent thinking. I would love to have TED-Ed Clubs in the curriculum. — Malgorzata Guzicka
Let’s design more learning experiences that build on our students’ strengths. — Della Palacios
Assign a super-ambitious project, and go through the entire process yourself before the students give it a shot. — Jimmy Juliano
Transform schools into hubs for critical thinking, creativity and innovation. We can do this by supporting project-based learning, design thinking and maker-space initiatives. — Jorge Alvarez
Let’s allow students the flexibility in their research, writing, speaking, and projects to explore ideas and topics that matter to them. Let’s stimulate intellectual curiosity. — Mitzi Stover
I would love to see a concentrated focus on teaching conflict resolution skills and healthy means of expressing civil discourse. — Shannon Brake
Build/modify an activity that asks the students to interact with another student, teacher, parent, or friend outside of their classroom. The goal is to work with someone different as a team and be available for feedback or give a different perspective. — Corey Holmer
Create a classroom full of globally literate students with empathy and understanding. — Kim Preshoff
Inspire an overall LOVE of learning in your students by connecting them to people and places outside the walls of your classroom or school. — Jen Hesseltine
Empower students to create their own lessons about things that they learned and love and want to share with peers. — Lisa Winer
Use the power of interactive storytelling to create memorable and engaging classroom experiences. — Tim Couillard
I’d like to see teachers try thinking and operating outside their comfort zones. We come to the profession with our own biases, and I’d love to see people throw that out and try something that makes them uncomfortable and let their students watch them grow and learn alongside their students. And salsa dancing. Every teacher should try salsa dancing. — Carla Staffa
This blog is a summary of our new report “Translating competencies to empowered action,” which can be downloaded here.
Today the buzz around life skills education for girls is at an all-time high. Policy and civil society actors—from United Nations agencies to grassroots community-based organizations—have made great strides developing life skills programming to help girls achieve a wide range of empowering cognitive, health, social, economic, and political outcomes. But in many cases, such newfound empowerment is met with violent backlash by family and community members, particularly when girls attempt to apply skills like communication, negotiation, or leadership outside of the safe spaces provided by a program. As a result, the burden of social change has been largely placed on the shoulders of the girl-child.
At Brookings, we are examining how policy and civil society actors can do a better job shifting that burden of change from girls themselves to her broader social and political context. As part of our larger work on Skills for a Changing World, we’re asking questions about how girls’ life skills programming can be better linked to transformative social change and the disruption of structural inequalities that sustain barriers for girls and women.
One answer is that life skills education should be more than just about the girl’s own skills development. Practitioners should also be focused on the girl’s agency (her capacity to see and to make choices) and whether enabling opportunity structures (like policies, social norms, and institutions) exist in her environment.
In our new framework on girls’ life skills education, we draw on the fields of gender empowerment and the psychology of learning to help practitioners better design life skills programming that connects girls’ life skills development not only to empowerment but also to wider social change. We’ve summarized this into four guiding principles:
1. Consider a broader range of competenciesFor starters, practitioners need to conceptualize life skills as a range of competencies (what one can do) that enable girls (and boys) to function, thrive, and adapt in their lived realities, rather than a narrow set of skills for life. These competencies are comprised of networks of Knowledge (what one knows), Skills (what one has), and Attitudes (what one believes and values), or KSAs. Conceptualizing life skills in this way well help encourage practitioners to be more purposeful not only around the whats of life skills, but also the hows of applying such competencies to navigate unique challenges at pivotal moments across her life and in different contexts.
2. Design for five touch points in programming Moving the focus of life skills programming beyond the girl means designing programs that begin with 1) the dynamic process of building girls’ competencies, but continue on to focus on: 2) whether the girl can translate her skills into 3) empowered action amidst a host of mediating factors that can influence the degree to which her action is empowered. And, if actors seek to achieve wider goals for girls and women, programs must also take into account 4) the range of life outcomes impacted as well as whether 5) systemic change has been achieved. (Watch our animation below for an illustration of how these five touch points come together.)
3. Be intentional about development and changeEvidence from the psychology of learning stresses the continuous, dialogical, and non-linear nature of skills development over the child’s life. Life skills development is no different. Practitioners must therefore be more intentional about building upon foundational KSAs throughout key moments of the girl’s life, including early childhood through adolescence and young adulthood.
But tied to development is change. This rings true not only at the individual level of the girl, but also for her wider social context. As girls build KSAs important for her empowerment, there is a consequent reaction and response by her peers, family, and community that must be accounted for by programs. This interaction can lead to the strengthening of her agency, as well as to the weakening of it.
4. Support girls to “read” context, gender, and powerFinally, if there is one “life skill” that we believe is foundational for girls, it is the ability to read her social, political, and economic contexts with an understanding of how gender and power have structured her realities and opportunities. Life skills programs must support girls to recognize, navigate, and leverage the dynamic structures in her life if she is to translate KSAs into empowered action. Without this, programs risk girls’ life skills development getting “stuck” in the safe spaces in which they are learned.
As the girls’ education community continues to center life skills across program, donor, and government policy priorities, we must ensure that actors take into account the urgent need to focus on more than just the girl’s skills development—lest we continue to place the burden of social change on girls themselves rather than on the gender unequal societies in which she lives. We acknowledge that this will be difficult to apply in practice, but catalyzing transformative social change has and will never be a straightforward process. Our hope is that by focusing on the above four principles, policy and civil society actors will be to push the field even further to ensure that life skills initiatives move girls and women toward both improved life outcomes and wider systemic change.
The practice of mindfulness has become a big trend but it can be confusing when it comes to defining it, especially as a parent.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a practice where you use the five senses to engage physically and non-judgmentally with the world around you. When you do a task with mindful awareness, you do it with 100% of your energy and attention.
Any activity can be done with a sense of mindfulness, even eating dinner with your family. For example, you can teach your child to pay attention to the texture and flavors of the food. You can guide them to think about how the food nurtures their body and keeps their body healthy.
These lessons (arranged from lowest to highest grade levels) provide tools for developing empathy and understanding others, as students learn to value how diversity creates a strong and colourful classroom and community.
Helping Neighbours Grades: K through 2 Subjects: Art, Language Arts, Philanthropy and Social Studies Duration: One 30-minute session Materials: 4” x 4” colourful construction paper, or cardstock paper squares, hole-punch or needle and thread, yarn or strong glue, poster board or cardboard backing
Children work cooperatively to make a paper quilt displaying the strengths of the group as they make the neighbourhood a better place. They brainstorm their personal strengths and needs of the community and make a plan to take action for the common good.
Happy Faces Grades: K through 2 Subjects: Health, Social Studies Duration: One intro and one follow-up session and ongoing throughout the week Materials: Alexander and the Horrible No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst 3 happy faces per student
This activity helps students be sensitive to others, giving them a way to cross boundaries and bring cheer.
Everyone’s a Helper Grades: K through 5 Subjects: Language Arts, Social Studies, Art Duration: One session Materials: Handout: Sometimes I HELP, Sometimes I NEED Help at lesson plan links below, chart paper, construction paper, coloured pencils, oil pastels or crayons.
Students develop an understanding of the concepts of strengths, struggles, and what it means to help and be part of a community.
It’s Okay to Feel Different Grades: K through 5 Subjects:Art, Social Studies Duration: One session Materials:It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr or books with a similar theme of diversity, like Hair/Pelitos, by Sandra Cisneros and Why Am I Different, by Norma Simon, construction paper, oil pastels or crayons. For Grades 3-5 add: downloadable jigsaw puzzle template at lesson plan link below & poster board cut into jigsaw pieces, one per student.
Students explore the concepts of difference and diversity as they develop an understanding of community.
Place as Mirror of Self and Community Grades: 3 through 5 Subjects: Social Studies, Language Arts, ESL Duration: One session Materials: One Special Places handout for each student (at lesson plan link below), a world map for the extension activity
Students understand difference and community by exploring a special place in their lives.
One World: Connecting Communities, Cultures, and Classrooms Grades: 4-6 Subjects: Social Studies, Civics, Life Skills and Language Arts Duration: A ten lesson unit with extensions, although lessons can be taught individually Materials: See lesson plans
These ten lessons (and extensions) help teach students fundamentals in diversity, respect for others, and building communities. Although the lessons can be taught independently, each builds on the next, developing skills to promote empathy, dialogue, and respect for diverse opinions.
Put Your Hands in Mine Grades: 6 through 8 Subjects: Social Studies, Language Arts, Library/Technology and Philanthropy Duration: One 50-minute session plus extension activities Materials:A copy of Mighty Times: The Children’s March video (available free here), copies of attachment & handout at lesson plan link below
NOTE: Prior to this lesson, use the Blue Sky Activity in which students envision a better world. If you already have a Blue Sky display, revisit it before beginning this lesson.
The result of this lesson is that students connect the concepts/practices of fairness, justice, tolerance, togetherness and equality necessary to the advancement of human and civil rights. Students share ideas about how philanthropic acts can promote the common good and lead to positive social changes.
Sticking Together: Sharing Our Stories, Our Differences, and Our Similarities Grades: 6 through 12 Subjects: Language Arts, Social Studies Duration: One 45-minute session Materials: Teacher instructions & printable Handout #1: Storytelling Instructions for Students at lesson plan link below
This lesson uses storytelling as a way for students to learn about one another’s similarities and differences to create a sense of community in the classroom.
Valuing Community Grades: 9 through 12 Subjects: Social Studies, Language Arts, Library/Technology and Philanthropy Duration: One 50-minute session Materials: A display board, markers, copied attachment and handouts at lesson plan link below
Learners will define community, identify how community is/has impacted their personal lives, and share ideas and develop a plan whereby they might also make an impact on their community.