20 Signs YOU Might Be a Discipline Problem | Mindsteps Inc.

20 Signs YOU Might Be a Discipline Problem

One of my favorite definitions of a discipline problem is “whenever a behavior interferes with the teaching act, interferes with the rights of others to learn, is psychologically or physically unsafe, or destroys property” (Levin and Nolan, 1996).

That means, not only can students be discipline problems, but we can sometimes be inadvertent discipline problems as well.

Sometimes, we can interfere with students’ right to learn because we are unprepared, stray off topic, or interrupt them while they are working for something that could have waited. Other time, there is a legitimate discipline problem with students and how we handle that problem escalates things to the point where we become the discipline problem too.

We all get frustrated with our students, but how we handle that frustration may mean the difference between creating or escalating a discipline problem or refocusing the students on what’s really important – learning.

Below are 20 signs YOU might be the discipline problem: If you answer no to one or more of the questions below, you might be a discipline problem.

  1. Do I start class on time?
  2. Am I prepared for the day’s lesson (materials, equipment, in place and ready to go)?
  3. Have I planned effectively for the full time (do I teach to the bell?)
  4. Do I have procedures and routines in place to ensure the smooth, orderly flow of class?
  5. Is the classroom environment physically, emotionally, and psychologically safe?
  6. Is the classroom arranged to minimize distractions? 

  7. Do I have procedures and routines in place to ensure the smooth, orderly 
flow of class? 

  8. Are my consequences logical and consistently applied? 

  9. Are my expectations for students clear and do I model the expected behaviors in my interactions with students? 

  10. Are my verbal interventions as brief and private as possible? 

  11. Do I address the person rather than situation or behavior? 

  12. Do I avoid sarcasm or other belittling behaviors when addressing 
inappropriate behavior? 

  13. Do I avoid the use of threats? 

  14. Is my response to student misbehavior proportionate?
  15. Do I have strategies to avoid arguing with students?
  16. Do I effectively control my own anger and frustration during an incident?
  17. Are my consequences redemptive instead of punitive?
  18. Do I prevent students from bullying and teasing each other in class?
  19. Do I avoid unintentionally reward misbehavior (i.e. laughing at inappropriate jokes, allowing students unearned privileges?
  20. Do I maintain appropriate boundaries with students?

Take a moment to reflect on your practice. Are you getting in your own way? What would you add to the list above? What are some other ways that we can be discipline problems? Leave a comment below to add to the list.

  • anonymous says:

    Do I neglect to give my time to less disruptive and well behaved students.

  • anonymous says:

    Do I take care of my own needs (rest, health, emotional, etc.) so that I can think about my students well?

    Do my students know that I care about them? Do I value their input? Have I made personal connections with them?

    While my students can change from day-to-day in what they bring to my classroom because they are 7th graders, what I bring daily also impacts their behavior. My relationships with them, or lack their of, can help prevent or can add to discipline problems.

  • anonymous says:

    Do I maintain bell to bell instruction.

  • anonymous says:

    #3 Instead of do I teach to the bell? How about does learning take place up to the bell? Students need time to process, reflect and/or practice application of the learning.

  • jeannette dulan says:

    Do I name the behavior I want to see?
    (Indicate the behavior you want to see rather than focus on the misbehavior. For example, “Everyone’s desk should be clear,” rather than, “Wayne, you still have books and pencils on your desk.”

    Do I avoid associating a student’s name with negative behavior?
    (A name is important, our body systems rev up when our name is called. Avoid, as far as is possible, using a student’s name in a negative context. For example, say “I’m waiting for all talking to stop and eyes focused on the video,” rather than “Jill, stop talking and focus on the video.”

  • Agnes A-Kumi says:

    21. Good lesson planning is the antidote to classroom discipline.

    Thank you for all the 20 points. Such a confirmation to what I believe and know from experience. There are no short cuts to a good lesson and once I read or heard that we fail as teachers when we fail to plan.

    Thank you for the good job you are doing for educators.

    Agnes A-Kumi

  • anonymous says:

    A respected educator for many years I tried the classroom again. This list confirms why it didn’t work wish I had read and reflected on it before going into what seemed like a mine field. How students thanked me for sticking it out is beyond me.

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