Whenever I hear the word "discipline" it makes me think of coming down hard on students. What is Total Behavior Management's take on this?
Discipline has had a bad rap in some cases, when it is used synonymously with punishment. Think of discipline as teaching students the life long skill of "self discipline." How do people who are the best in their field (athletes, musicians, business) get that way? It takes self discipline to become the best that one can be. We at Total Behavior Management believe that children (and people for that matter) are not biologically programmed to be self-disciplined. They are biologically progammed to get their needs met in the easiest, most comfortable way possible, unless they see the bigger picture as to how decisions made today will benefit them in the long run. School and classwide management systems developed by TBM encourage and guide children toward a healthy self-discipline through respect, integrity and a sense of commitment to the community.
You talk about school and classwide management systems. What do you mean?
The school as an entity needs to have a system for appropriate behavior, so that it runs smoothly and benefits all people. Think of a traffic system. Everyone is given instruction, learns the rules, practices, and takes a test. Then drivers are expected to abide by the rules so that all people on the roads are safe. The same is true in a school and classwide system. All staff and students are trained in the rules, given instruction, practice and then expected to abide by the rules for the safety of everyone.
A good behavior management system includes clear expectations, limit setting and rewards for approriate behavior. It is consistently enforced. A key component to an infraction of a rule is retraining (think driving school if you get a ticket), so that you can be assured that your students are learning new ways, not just being reprimanded for inappropriate behavior.
Do you think students ought to be involved in the development of the management plan?
Absolutely! Research tells us that the more involved people are with the decisions that effect them, the more ownership and thus success there will be. Many teachers chose to hold a class meeting, or distribute a survey to students on the first day of class to solicit input. It is wise to have a general idea of the basic guiding principles prior to this - you as a teacher need to have a well run and orderly class. Solicit the student's input from your basic principles. Write them into measureable and observable phrases, and post them for everyone to see. Give copies to parents, students and administration. Constantly refer to the plan, be consistent in enforcing AND rewarding behavior. If you follow this, you will have the BEST year you've ever had in teaching. Guaranteed.
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You talk about rewards, but distinguish this from bribery. What is the diffence and what behaviors warrant reward?
Life is an If-Then experience. If you go to work, then you get paid. Human beings naturally gravitate toward things that give us pleasure and avoid those that cause discomfort. Our job as educators is to guide children toward appropriate behavior by aknowledging and appreciating their efforts. When done correctly, rewarding students gives them the motivation to perform despite their natural inclinatin to avoid these tasks. Conversely, bribery is manipulation that does not have lasting effect on behavior change
Total Behavior Management is a subsidiary of Phillips Associates, LLC