Assertive Discipline in the Classroom

When it comes to teaching, I've always considered 
myself to be good at managing behaviors in my classroom.

That is until just recently, when I finished up a class I was taking 
(to move up on the pay scale, I'll admit) 
through the Canter program called 
Assertive Discipline and Beyond.

 The course's main text was written by Lee Canter himself.


It is by far the best educational book I have read yet!

Classroom management has become a much more 
significant issue 
for today's teachers than ever before. And why is that?

Well, according to the book, there are 3 main reasons. 
See which one you think trumps the others.

1) There's a lack of respect for the authority given to teachers.

2)Classroom demographics have changed, 
including more special needs students than before.

3)Teachers still do not receive the classroom management 
training they need to deal with their students.

While I agree that these all are primary reasons as to why 
it's so much harder to manage a classroom nowadays than when I first 
started teaching, I will have to say that the lack of authority given 
to teachers by students and parents is the biggest 
one I've seen in my teaching career. 

A more recent struggle I have had has been trying to deal with students 
who do not respect my authority because their parents are showing them,
through example, not to respect my authority. 

Which sadly means the simple threat of "calling your parents" no longer 
works when students are misbehaving. 

Many kids are coming back with attitudes that say, 
"Go ahead. I know my mom will back me up 
and you'll be the one in trouble." 

I've had it happen more than once. I've even had one threaten ME with, 
"I'm telling my mom you disrespected me."
(This was after I put her in a think-about-it timeout because she refused to stop talking during instruction time, even after multiple warnings.)

It used to be that if your parents found out you had gotten in 
trouble at school, you were in even worse trouble at home. 

Now, I've got parents upset at me that their child was 
reprimanded for not following my classroom rules. 

I mean, how dare I expect any order and structure while I'm teaching?!

So, despite my need to move up on the pay-scale, 
this really was a class that I was interested in. Because the 
discipline plan I've been using was in need of a revamping. 

And I was in need of some encouragement.

While I could go on and on about the many valuable insights 
I gained during this course, I've decided to keep it short and whip it 
up quickly in a top 3 list of things I didn't know.  

So here we go...number one most valuable insight 
I gained on becoming a more assertive discipliner (is that even a word?)...

1) Use behavioral narration...not praise.

Praise “is a judgmental response to student behavior.” 
Praise causes students to do what you want in order to get your approval. 
The problem with this is that they will begin to think that they must behave in order to gain my acceptance. Another problem with this is
 that some students may not want my acceptance.

    Using behavioral narration means I will give a direction and then immediately monitor the class and make statements 
about what complying students are doing. 

For example, 
“Susie is crossing her arms in line. Ben is facing forward and not talking.”

This reiterates the directions for the students who are not complying.  
Also, repeating the directions through the behavioral narration 
gives students who didn’t pay attention to the directions 
a chance to hear it again

I mean, let's be honest, 
how many times do we need to hear the directions one more time?! 

2) Rules need to be observable.

Unclear rules such as "Be respectful to others." 
Or "Be nice." 
can be interpreted differently amongst the students,
 and therefore are difficult to enforce. 

Bobby's "nice" may not be "nice" to Bill. 

Observable rules might include "Keep hands and feet to yourself." 
Or "No swearing or teasing." Ones that are unarguable.


It's a good point, and one I had never thought of before. 
I've always incorporated the rule "Be Kind to Others" into my discipline 
plan before. This was definitely something that needed changed.

3) Use the broken record approach when students and/or parents argue with you. 

When students or parents keep arguing over and over again with you, 
validate that you heard them by saying, 
"I understand." 

Then remind them, "But that is not the point."

Reiterate your point again every so often. 
Keep saying that over and over and eventually they will tire of arguing 
their off-topic point with you! Love it! 
Have already used it on my own kids and it works wonderfully!

I could go on and on...
but you'll just have to get the book for yourself to find out more! 

I created some 
visual behavior clip chart posters 
to hang in my classroom this fall. You know, the ones on Pinterest
 that use the clothespins with kids names on them that are all over the place? 
You move the clothespins up and down on the chart 
based on student behavior. 

I made a few different sets with different designs.

Get it here.

It even comes in a bundle with matching number and colors posters:

Click here to get this bundle.

I made it in polka dot too! 

Get it here.

There's a bundle available for this design too...

And in black and white...

Click here to get this.

And a bundle for this one too.

"Rapping" things up (you'll get it in a second!), 
I thought I'd show you one of my favorite Respect 
videos that I used this year for my kids to watch/rap.
Respect Rap - for PBIS-

I also found this book! 

Find this book here, at Barnes and Noble.

Kids today need manners more than ever, and Dude, That’s Rude! 
makes it fun and easy to get some. Full-color cartoons and kid-friendly text teach the basics of 
polite behavior in all kinds of situations.

I may just be buying this book this summer to use with my own kids, and possibly with those that I have in my classroom in the fall.

Till next time~
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  1. Hi Bek- Great ideas here! I love the e-card you posted - very funny! I just found your blog, I’m your newest follower!
    Science for Kids Blog

    1. Thanks for reading...and for following! Looks like you've got a blog too, I can't wait to check it out!

  2. Thanks for sharing. Pretty good tips Congrats!!

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