alfie kohn, being a teacher, punishment, rewards

After Publishing my Discipline Management System

About 3 weeks ago, I chronicled how I had gone from a checks, sticks, and names discipline system to one based in logic, respect, and communication instead.  Little did I know that it would hit such a nerve with so many people.  So now with 33 comments,  81 re-tweets (even one by the very smart Alfie Kohn!), and more than 10,000 views, I think it is time to answer some of the questions that were posed.

  • Don’t you think it is just because of your great group of students that this works?  This has been a popular one, especially as I discuss it with colleagues who happen to know firsthand what an amazing group of 4th graders we do have.  My answer, well maybe, and yet, I do know that there are students in my room that would not have flourished as much if they had been subjected to last year’s rules. These would have been my frequent fliers, often spending recess with me or the principal.  Through communication, I have only had to keep a couple of students in on two occasions as we discussed behavior expectations and how to fix reoccurring problems.   I know that I have 23 incredible students, but I did last year as well and the year prior.  So really, since these are the students that I do have, it appears to be a mute point.
  • How did you come up with this system?  I didn’t.  In fact, many commentators pointed out that it sounded a lot like The Responsive Classroom, Love and Logic, or various other programs.  I did not read any of these programs, instead I went with my own commonsense and sense of right and wrong.  I wanted a respectful classroom, which also meant I had to give a lot of respect.  I also knew that this would not be a one time thing of discussion, but something to revisit throughout the year whenever we had time.
  • Why should I care, listen, use what you are using?  That’s the wonderful part about the world of blogging, you don’t have to!  All I am doing is chronicling my own decision to get rid of a punitive system to one guided by communication.  This approach works for me, but by all means, I want people to use whatever works for them.  I just want to let people know, particularly first year teachers that there are other methods than punishment to create a strong classroom.  I wish I had known more about that in college.
  • Will you use it next year? Absolutely!  As with many changes on my journey this year, I could not imagine going back to my old ways.  I do not know what my classroom will consist of next year, but I do know that I am going to have some very eager new 4th graders ready to learn so my job is to provide them with the very best experience possible.  That includes a room where they feel safe, respected, and listened to, not just by me, but by their peers as well.  There may be changes, but fundamentally my philosophy will only expand and gain momentum rather than completely change.

So keep them coming.  It is only through dialogue that we continue to push our boundaries and learn together.  

5 thoughts on “After Publishing my Discipline Management System”

  1. Missed this first time around so glad of the nudge now. Hate myself for constantly trying to impose discipline in line with school policy and being very unsuccessful about it. Teaching age 11-14 means that I don't have a strong relationship with any particular group of students, but I'm wondering if I could manage something similar in my own classroom and the students recognise that my way of dealing with things is different from other teachers. Lots to think about, and some old reading to revisit too – hmmm….

  2. Good stuff! I am excited to hear that you were not following anything but your head and heart in your development of these ideas. I will certainly go back and check out what Alfie had to say.

  3. I am going to challenge you a bit on this post, but not necessarily on its content. I noticed that you listed some stats on how many hits you have had, retweets, etc.. I also noticed that you listed that "Alfie Kohn" commented on it (like it was some kind of award that he did that). You have also written how you were disappointed that you did not get an edublog award: ( the listing of these stats (kind of like marks) and discussion of awards, are you somehow showing that you have a part of you driven by the same thing that you are saying we should take away from students in the classroom? Just some food for thought. I think that your posting discussing the importance of intrinsic motivation and not extrinsic motivators is contradicted by use of the stats of your blog hits and retweets.Is there room for both to drive us? I know I have a twitter counter on my own blog posts and love recognition.Just thinking out loud…

  4. George, what a great comment that really made me think early this morning. I think your questions prove avery valid point for me; we as adults struggle for the same recognition as our students do. However, the reason why I listed those stats etc with this particular post was because it showed that somehow this particular post really struck something in people, which I had no idea it would. I never expect anyone to read my blog so the fact that that many people took the time to share or read shows that this a debate that many others are either thinking about or engaged in.I f you recall, in my edublog award post, i also remarked on how easy it is to become swept up in reward fervor and how it twists everything that you then do. As with everything else, I chronicle what I truly think, so even though I am opposed to rewards in my classroom, i understand why rewards can be so darn tempting at the same time. So no, I disagree with you that what I post is combated by my use of stats, I think it is how you choose to view those stats. Was it a big deal that Alfie Kohn retweeted it, absolutely, the man is someone I admire so for him to even bother read my blog is a big deal, not a reward of any type. What a wonderful thought process, thank you for sharing!

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