Classroom Community

 

 
Community
 
A Letter on Positive Discipline in the Classroom


First Grade Families,

        I believe that students learn both academic and life skills best when they are in a caring and supportive environment, and because of this, my classroom management plan is based on the Positive Discipline in the Classroom program developed by Jane Nelson, Ed.D., Lynn Lott, M.A., and H. Stephen Glenn, PH.D. In my classroom, students will develop a sense of mutual respect, cooperation, and responsibility through participating in community-building activities, creating classroom goals, and working as problem-solvers during daily classroom meetings. Rather than focusing on “behavior management,” which deals with the short-term, my focus is on “behavior guiding,” which deals with teaching children the skills they need to change their behaviors and become healthy members of a community.
        In the first weeks of school, students will learn the basics of becoming a successful member of the classroom community. Together, the students and I will discuss the importance of having a safe and fun learning environment and develop our classroom promise, which will take the place of traditional “classroom rules.” The students will also learn the procedures for holding classroom meetings, and this is where the majority of the community problem-solving will take place. Each meeting begins with a community-building activity such as giving compliments, and proceeds with activities such as discussing problems that the children or I have placed on the meeting agenda, role-playing problem-situations, and brain-storming solutions (rather than focusing on punishments or consequences, which are ineffective at changing long-term behavior). At subsequent meetings, the community will discuss the outcomes of solutions and readdress issues as necessary.
        In addition to using classroom meetings to help students solve problems and change their behaviors, the students will also be taught to solve their own problems using a “cool-down” area and conflict-resolution. The “cool-down” area is sometimes described as a “positive time-out” in which the student is asked to take some time to calm down, consider his or her actions, and rejoin the group when ready to act appropriately. This technique is based on the idea that students “do better when they feel better” and it encourages students to make positive behavior changes while maintaining their dignity since this is not a punishment.  Additionally, the students will learn conflict-resolution steps so that they can try solving their problems without adult interference.
           Although my classroom management plan is based on teaching students to monitor their own behavior rather than having an adult monitor their behavior using rules, rewards, and punishments, this is not a “permissive” management style. My main goal is to “guide” students towards proper behavior, and not only do I make it a priority to treat each child with respect, but I hold every child to very high expectations.  When minor misbehaviors occur, I will first address the issue by presenting the child with the option to go to the “cool-down” area, to solve the problem with a friend using conflict-resolution, or to discuss the issue at a class meeting. In many instances once problems are addressed in this respectful manner, with the view that mistakes are opportunities for learning, they seldom continue to exist. This means problems are typically resolved within the classroom community rather than through involving parents or administrators. This not only makes the student feel better, but it can also make parents feel better since they no longer have to punish students after school for “pulling cards” or “getting in trouble.” Of course, in extreme cases or when a problem cannot effectively be managed by the classroom community, parents and/or administrators will be informed and an alternative behavior management plan will be instituted for that particular child.
        Overall, I feel that by encouraging students to take responsibility for their own behaviors, teaching them the skills necessary to participate successfully as members of a learning community, and providing the warm, supportive environment they need in order to thrive, I will be teaching my students not only the academic skills they need to be successful in life, but also the skills they will need to become responsible citizens in our society.  If you have any questions about the Positive Discipline plan I am using in my classroom, please contact me and I will be glad to set up a time to talk or for you to visit one of our class meetings. Furthermore, if you would like to learn how to adopt Positive Discipline techniques at home, I would suggest reading one of the books in the Positive Discipline Series by Jane Nelson or visiting the website www.positivediscipline.com. Thanks so much for your support!
        Sincerely,

Mrs. Brooke Hilderbrand

 

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