The best way of dealing with school misbehavior is by preventing it. Schools with good discipline not only correct misbehavior but also teach appropriate behavior and coping skills.
Prevention strategies include:
• Establishing clear behavior expectations and guidelines.
• Focusing on student success and self-esteem.
• Seeking student input on discipline rules.
• Using a “systems approach” for prevention, intervention and resolution and developing levels of incremental consequences.
• Enforcing rules with consistency, fairness, and calmness.
• Planning lessons that provide realistic opportunities for success for all students.
• Monitoring the classroom environment continuously to prevent off-task behavior, and student disruptions, and for providing help to students who are having difficulty and supplemental tasks to students who finish work early.
There are a number of programs that have proven effective:
Social Skills Instruction
There are many commercially available programs that teach social skills. These programs help students learn how to make good choices and teach them the social skills they need to behave appropriately such as listening, asking questions politely, cooperation and sharing. Social skills are described in behavioral terms. The skills are modeled and practiced. Students are provided reinforcement and feedback and are taught self-monitoring skills.
Character Education Program
The curriculum includes teaching children to think about how their actions affect others, how to manage anger, and how to make good choices. Example: Community of Caring Program (Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation l994)
Student Recognition Program Commonly held values are taught and recognized including pride, respect, responsibility, caring and honesty. An awards assembly is held periodically to honor students who demonstrate these values and an attempt is made to make sure all students are honored sometime during the year.
Students are given specific instruction in active listening, restating problem situations from their own and disputants’ perspectives, anger management, identifying feelings, brainstorming and developing solutions to problems. Peer mediators are trained to help disputants solve problems that might otherwise escalate into conflict and result in punitive actions against the disputants.
Internet Resource: OSEP Technical Assistance Center of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS)
This program gives schools assistance in identifying, adapting and sustaining effective school wide disciplinary practices. http://www.pbis.org
Second Step Violence Prevention Program
“The award-winning SECOND STEP violence prevention program integrates academics with social and emotional learning. Kids from preschool through Grade 8 learn and practice vital social skills, such as empathy, emotion management, problem solving, and cooperation. These essential life skills help students in the classroom, on the playground, and at home.
The SECOND STEP program is research-based and approved for funding on many federal agency lists. It has been shown to reduce discipline referrals, improve school climate by building feelings of inclusiveness and respect, and increase the sense of confidence and responsibility in students.
The program includes teacher-friendly lessons, training for educators, and parent-education tools.”
FAST Track Program
“FAST Track is a comprehensive and long-term prevention program that aims to prevent chronic and severe conduct problems for high-risk children. It is based on the view that antisocial behavior stems from the interaction of multiple influences, and it includes the school, the home, and the individual in its intervention. FAST Track’s main goals are to increase communication and bonds between these three domains, enhance children’s social, cognitive, and problem-solving skills, improve peer relationships, and ultimately decrease disruptive behavior in the home and school.
FAST Track is an intervention that can be implemented in rural and urban areas for boys and girls of varying ethnicity, social class, and family composition (i.e., the primary intervention is designed for all youth in a school setting). It specifically targets children identified in kindergarten for disruptive behavior and poor peer relations.”
Other alternatives and punishments
Restorative Justice Conferences
This is part of a process developed by the Colorado School Mediation Project which helps students learn to be accountable for their actions. These often involve conferences of the offender, persons offended, the parents, and school representatives who have an opportunity to tell the offender how they were affected and what they need to happen to go on. The object is for the offender to act to correct the situation: restore relationships, apologize, pay back, clean up, do community service, etc.
Other alternatives include:
Use of discipline codes which are fair and consistently enforced, emphasizing positive behaviors of students, use of school psychologists and school counselors and use of community mental health professionals and agencies.
In-school and out-of-school suspension programs, expulsion, Saturday Schools, restitution, detention and parent pick-up programs.