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Classroom management and student discipline play a significant role in the daily duties of an educator. Those teachers who have a good handle on these practices find that they can spend more time teaching and less time managing their students. Every discipline infraction serves as a distraction of some sort for all involved. Effective teachers can resolve an issue quickly and appropriately with minimal disruption of the learning process.
Managing Discipline Referrals in the Classroom
Teachers must be careful that they do not make a mountain out of a molehill. They must manage and evaluate a situation correctly. If the situation warrants a discipline referral, then the student should be sent to the office. A teacher should never send a student to the office simply because they "need a break" or "don't want to deal with it". Students must be held accountable for their actions. However, complete reliance on the principal for handling all discipline issues is indicative of a failure to effectively manage a classroom on the teacher's part.
It is important to note that it works the opposite way as well. If a teacher never sends a student to the office, then they are not taking full advantage of the resources available to them. A teacher should never refuse to send a student to the office simply because they are worried about what their principal thinks. Sometimes making a discipline referral is necessary and the right decision. Most administrators understand this and will not think anything about it if you occasionally refer a student to them.
For these reasons, every principal should develop a simple guide to discipline referrals for their teachers to follow. This guide should indicate what offenses should be dealt with in the classroom by the teacher and which offenses should result in a discipline referral. This guide to discipline referrals will eliminate guessing by the teacher and ultimately makes the principal's job easier.
Handling Minor Disciplinary Offenses
The following offenses should be handled by the teachers themselves. In most cases retraining the students in procedures will be sufficient, though establishing and following through with classrooms consequences will help reinforce and minimize re-occurrences. A student should not be sent to the office for violating a single offense. These offenses are assumed to be of a minor nature. It is important to note that one of these minor issues can become major when it recurs on a regular basis. If this is the case and the teacher has exhausted an array classroom management and discipline techniques including contact of parents, they should go ahead and refer them to the office.
- Possession of gum, candy, toys, radios, etc.
- Passing notes.
- Failure to follow procedures.
- Cheating on daily assignments.
- Failure to bring appropriate materials to class.
- Petty conflicts among students.
- Disruptive behavior in the classroom, which is of a minor nature.
- Missing assigned teacher detention the first scheduled time.
- Not working in class after parent contact.
- Tardiness to class (first two occurrences).
- Use of electronic telecommunication devices for non-educational purposes (i.e. texting, social media, etc.)
Handling Major Disciplinary Offenses
The following offenses should result in an automatic referral to the office for discipline - NO EXCEPTIONS.
- Blatant disrespect towards the teacher.
- Bullying another student.
- Cheating on a quiz, test, or exam.
- Missing detention twice after parent contact.
- Leaving class without permission.
- Obscene language or gesture.
- Obscene pictures or literature.
- Smoking and/or possession of smoking materials or tobacco.
- Possession, consumption, sale, or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Possession of fireworks, matches, lighter, or another caustic device.
- Verbal abuse of adults or students.
- Open defiance/insubordination.
- Threats by word or deed.
Many students never have serious discipline problems. This list will serve as a guideline for teachers who do have policy violations by students in their classrooms. The teacher should use fair and appropriate judgment in the exercise of any discipline. The goal of any teacher's disciplinary actions should be to prevent the inappropriate behavior from occurring again. In all cases, the administrator will have the flexibility to respond differently to various situations. The frequency, intensity, and duration of the misconduct are factors that influence the possible consequences.